In their own words: Times readers remember their toys (copy) – Quad City Times


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Hovercraft: ‘I could now carry out missions in the bathtub …””From Ninja Turtles to the SEGA Genesis, there are so many great gifts to choose from, but the one that still sticks out for me is the G.I. Joe Killer W.H.A.L.E. Hovercraft. This came out in 1984, so I was five or six when I received it.”This was a Santa gift because, unlike the other wrapped gifts that were under the tree most of December, this showed up on Christmas day already assembled. I remember coming downstairs and seeing this beautiful gift under the tree, and being filled with excitement and awe. How did Santa know I wanted this?”I was always a fan of G.I. Joe action figures, but the vehicles provided so many more options in terms of creative playtime, and the hovercraft did not disappoint. It came with an action figure, actual shooting plastic missiles, an escape life boat, and fans on the back that spun with the push of a button.”But the best part was that it actually floated. I could now carry out missions in the bathtub or kiddy pool during the summer.This toy “caught me at the right time in my love of G.I. Joe and Santa Claus belief. I wish I still had it, along with so many other toys from my childhood. After writing this, it sorta brings back that exciting feeling all over again. I may even buy it on eBay. It’s $135 …”— Chris Schlichting, DavenportSuper duper Daisy Red Ryder BB gun”My favorite present, like Ralphie in “Christmas Story,” was a DaisyRed Ryder, but mine was the super-duper model holding 50 BBs and was a pump action.”I, too, got mine in 4th grade with the admonishment from my mother not to “shoot my eye out.” Sixty-five years later, I can still hear her dire warnings.— Rob FiedlerOld catalogs were paper doll factories”When rural America was home to about half the population, the semi-annual arrival of hefty mail-order catalogs was a gala event. The “wish books” of the past season were turned over to children for cutting.”With scissors in hand on the clothing sections, the kids came up with large families of paper dolls.”I remember at first we selected one figure to be the mother doll. Then we’d go through the pages to find figures that had the arms and head to match, to be cut out for the clothes. Shoulder tabs were cut to the clothes so they could be fitted to the doll. After our mother had a full wardrobe, we went to the men’s and children’s sections to finish our family.”When each of us had a complete family, we moved to the stairway where each of us had a couple of step to set up a household.”— Marcella Heneke, Maquoketa, IowaPuzzletown, the FlintstonesJudy Stouffer, of Davenport, sent in stories of two favorite toys, one a Flintstones playset she received as a child for Christmas in 1960 or 1961, and the other a Richard Scarry-inspired Puzzletown that she bought as an adult at a garage after her two daughters were grown because she always liked Scarry’s books. Scarry (1919-1994) was an American author and illustrator of about 300 children’s books.”The Flintstones” was a 1960s prime-time cartoon show that inspired the playset that Stouffer still has.Puzzletown was a series of toy sets made in the mid-1970s by Playskool featuring plastic figures of Scarry characters as well as wood-board “wall” pieces and roof pieces that could be assembled in a variety of ways to build different structures.Stouffer purchased a couple of the sets, and then along came granddaughter Harper and the sets “became her favorite toy when she visited me,” Stouffer wrote.— Judy Stouffer, DavenportA doll with brown eyes”I first saw the doll that Santa would bring to me in Toyland at Younkers in downtown Des Moines.”I was the only one in our immediate family of four who had brown eyes. My mother said I noticed right away that the doll, a 20-inch Dy Dee baby doll, had brown eyes. That was a rarity in those days.”Years later, she told me that she had gone home and told my dad that I was going to get that doll even if it meant we didn’t eat! (I got the doll, and we didn’t go hungry.) I have the receipt from the purchase, which specifies the doll with brown eyes.— Kay Kramer, BettendorfEvil Knievel bike, Flip Wilson doll”Definitely my Evil Knievel stunt bike!!! Also I had a Flip Wilson doll that had Flip on one side and Geraldine on the other … “(Knieval was an American stunt performer and entertainer who died in 2007. Wilson was a comedian and actor who hosted a variety show in 1970-74 featuring the recurring character of Geraldine.)— Bart A. BakerRoller skates (because boys didn’t skate)”My most wonderful toy was a pair of roller skates. It was the one thing my three brothers left alone.”In Erie (Illinois) in the ’50s, it was just girls who skated. Every summer was better because I had skates. My brothers did end up tearing them apart to make a skate board in the 60s!”— Helen Null’Barbie was fashionista before fashionistas were a thing!'”My absolute favorite toy was my Barbie Doll. In 1959, as soon as they hit the store shelves for the first time, my grandmother bought one and gave it to me for my 10th birthday.”She hand-made an entire wardrobe for her as well. She even cut up an old mink stole that had gone out of style — you know the kind that had the head and feet of the mink still attached. She made the most beautiful mink coat, muff, and pill box-style hat that Jackie Kennedy later made famous. My Barbie was a fashionista before fashionistas were a thing!”I would absolutely love to send you a picture of her, in fact, I would love it if I still had her. Unfortunately, like most kids when they leave home for the first time, I left most of my collectibles and toys in a box in my parent’s attic, fully intending to retrieve them one day.”Eventually both parents passed away and the home was left to someone out of the family.”When we requested access to retrieve personal property, the man agreed to look for, and give us, family photos and nothing else. I have no idea what happened to my precious Barbie Doll. I would love to get her back, but I fear she is gone forever.”— Barb Reiland, Blue GrassHorse on springs subbed for real thing”As a child I loved the stick horses, the horse on springs that you could ride, my baby doll, Easy Bake Oven and Creepy Crawlers.”I always wanted a pony so my stick horses and bouncy horse took its place. Creepy Crawlers enabled me to make all kinds of creatures. And what little girl doesn’t love her baby doll? Plus a pink suitcase with white polka dots.”— Julie KruseBaby doll could be bathed”My very favorite was a baby doll. I was nearly too old for dolls, but my mother bought her for me for Christmas. She could open and close her eyes, had a rubber body so could be bathed, and was about the size of a newborn. She was the cleanest doll in town!”A church family had recently had a baby and the mother gave me outgrown baby clothes. I was in seventh heaven! I played and played with that doll. The body eventually deteriorated but the head is still intact — in a dresser drawer. I take it out and look at it every once in a while. I’m 96 years old.”— Jean AndersonMr. Ed, the talking horse puppet”My favorite toy was Mr. Ed, the talking horse pull-string hand puppet. His head was made of rubber, with a furry cloth body. His mane was fashioned from white yarn. There was a sound box inside the hand opening. When I pulled the string, he said phrases like, ‘My shoes are good luck’ and ‘Hello, my name is Mr. Ed.'”Mr. Ed was a birthday gift from my parents when I turned six years old. I slept with him every night and loved him. He fit easily in my arms. My sister and I watched the “Mr. Ed” TV show every week.”I kept him for over 20 years, even taking him to college with me. Then his rubber head got sticky, due to deteriorating rubber. I still regret getting rid of him.”— Gail Pusateri, Letts, IowaBaby doll survives 85 years later”As a little girl my favorite toy was a baby doll I received possibly when I was five?? It was almost two feet high with composition head, arms, hands, feet and legs.”The head was damaged. Doll doctors do German dolls but not composition repair.”Along with the doll there was a kitchen cabinet with “Blue Willow” dishes, a child’s Singer sewing machine in a table with a cabinet that really worked (Santa made). Still have that doll (with a daughter and eight granddaughters, but no one liked dolls.)— Darlene Koster, 91, DavenportBill Dings were the best”My father made my sister and me a large toy box with a hinged lid and faux green leather covering. The toy box held everything I needed or wanted in the way of toys, but it was a dangerous proposition to open it up and go exploring.”My father failed to put a hinge that would lock it tightly open. Instead, we had to hold up it up, scooch out the bottom and hope the lid stayed in place. Many a time, I was bonked on the head.”Strangely out of all the baby dolls, marbles, tinker toys, soldiers (left over from my brother’s days), and games, I simply loved the wooden ‘Bill Ding’ balancing clowns. They had been well-worn by my brother before me, and I loved the colors and endless “tricks” they could do before falling over.”Years later, long after my brother had died, I wanted to share half of these with my sister, both of us now grown too old to play with them.”To my surprise, I found out that I could order them from a company in Iowa that still made them. They came to me clean and new to join up with their old friends from the 30s.”My toy box has been long gone now, yet I can look and wonder at my Bill Dings and feel the pleasure of the time I spent with them.”— Gaye Dunn, Hampton’Blue Willow’ tea set: most wonderful gift”I received a ‘Blue Willow’ tea set in 1942 for Christmas when I was five years old. I lived on a farm and didn’t have many toys. I thought the tea set was the most wonderful gift. My grandmother lived with us at the time and we spent countless hours playing with the tea set.”I always carefully packed the set away in the box it came in when we were finished playing. The set has always been displayed in the china cabinet for the 63 years my husband and I have been married.”I gave each of my two little girls a tea set when they were five years old. Neither one was very interested in their set. They wanted Scooter, Skipper, Chatty Cathy, and Barbie dolls instead.”— Phyllis James, BettendorfToy piano inspired career”I’ve attached a photo of one of my favorite and most significant toys, which actually helped establish my eventual career! This is a toy piano my parents bought for me when I was probably about four.”I was so excited when I figured out how to play my first “real song.” All by myself, I discovered I could play a song from the “Howdy Doody” show.”I remember being bothered by my little friends pounding on the keys instead of actually playing it “right.” Plus, I didn’t want it broken! I always loved the little mirror behind the keyboard.”The keys still all work, some pretty well, others marginally — but enough to play the little “Howdy Doody” song! This toy spurred my desire for a real piano, which arrived when I was seven.”And,” the rest is history”… I have been teaching music lessons since my teen years, and majored in music ed. This toy was certainly “instrumental” in starting me in my occupation!— Jo Souder Vandecar, Davenport
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