Tuesday, July 21, 2015

End of an Era

I have to cross one vacation destination off my bucket list. Last Wednesday the FAO Schwarz toy store in New York closed for good. It was the oldest toy store in the country. You can see it in movies like Tom Hanks' Big; Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite; and the movie, The Smurfs.

I never went there and I know I never would have built a vacation around it, but if I had happened to find myself in New York City with an extra hour or so, I think it would have been fun to stop by.

It's a little like watching A Christmas Story; it takes me back to a nostalgic time when the thought of spending hours in a huge store filled with nothing but toys was a boy's dream.

That got me thinking. What was my favorite toy from my childhood? I had a bunch of good ones. There was the G.I. Joe with the brown beard, orange jumpsuit, and manly scar on his right cheek.

That guy went everywhere and did everything, including being drug behind my bike on a rope. But still, through all that, he never revealed his secrets to his captors.

One year for Christmas I got the Airfix Super Flight Deck with Power Launcher. That' right. I was livin' the dream.

It was an aircraft carrier with a joystick with a long fishing line attached to its deck. The other end of the line was attached to a pole that clamped onto a piece of furniture across the room. You launched your plane with a rubber band-powered catapult (Warning: "THE LAUNCHING CATAPULT IS VERY POWERFUL AND SHOULD NOT BE RELEASED UNLESS THE AIRCRAFT IS IN POSITION. KEEP FINGERS AWAY FROM THE CATAPULT.")

It flew up the line, slowed and spun around, then came back down the line toward the carrier, picking up speed as it descended. You had to have a pretty steady hand on the joystick to bring it in for the perfect landing on the deck.

Probably my favorite toy was one I got on vacation when I was eight or nine. It was a plastic, battery-powered boat: a Boaterific -- the "Atlas" Harbour Tug. It came complete with a lighthouse and string.

The next day I ran down to the beach, put the lighthouse on a mound of sand, then dug a circular moat that filled with water from the lake. I watched the boat go round and round and thought that was the most fantastic thing in the world.

It had a simple rudder to turn it to port or starboard or steer dead ahead. It even had a bailer that would shoot water out of the stern. It really looked cool back home when I used the bubble bath in the tub. Alas, that sweet boat is long gone.

But it makes me think of the little stool in the corner of the bathroom of the cottage on Lake Erie where we spent one weekend every summer. It said, "The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys."

I guess I didn't really outgrow the thrill of my boyhood. I just directed it to other places: my family, my hobbies, and my faith.

What was your favorite childhood toy? Think hard. Did you have one that stands head and shoulders above the rest? Did you have (do you still have) a collection of any kind: Matchbox cars? G.I. Joes? A train set? HO-scale slot cars?

You can enlighten us on what was cool back when you were a kid by clicking here and giving us the update.

1 comment :

Karen Caruthers said...

I am a an adult female, but was a bit of a tom-boy when it came to the "toys" that I loved most as a child. Most any toy that was for outside play time; bike, bats & softballs, basketball with backboard and hoop,Frisbee, and of course my bikes were very important to me. Inside toys were games and I had Barbies, but really liked my "Six-Million Dollar Man" action figure more. :-)