When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, my favorite things to play with (when I wasn’t reading a book) were dolls. I liked the limp kind that seemed like a real baby, where the arms and legs flopped around. The more realistic the better, especially the ones that had eyes that closed when you laid her down. And I was in sheer heaven when I got a Betsy Wetsy one year. I loved changing her diapers.
Then, when I got around ten or twelve years old my youngest sister and I became obsessed with paper dolls. We’d patiently cut out their clothes with tabs and dress them up. We’d make up stories and have the cardboard dolls act them out. We spent umpteen hours on end playing with them.
Back in frontier days there was little time for playing. Children of a young age on up had chores to do. Older children had to help get crops in and care for the animals. There were no shirkers when it came to living on a farm. Every hand counted. Even school was abandoned when children were needed on the farm.
But kids still found time for play, if only occasionally.
Frontier children were limited when it came to toys, but they were very resourceful. And sometimes it was the parents who showed great creativity.
For toddlers, mothers strung thread spools on heavy string or they handed their children a pan and a spoon and let them go. I did that too when my kids were little.
Fathers carved toys for their sons and made horses, spinning tops, drums, wagons, whirligigs out of string and a piece of metal. Whirligigs made some type of whirring noise when they were whirled really fast. Fathers also made cup and ball toys that had the ball attached to a string. The object of the toy was to flip the ball into the cup.
There were also little tin soldiers for a price unless the father figured out how to make them on a forge out of left over metal.
Boys also whiled away many an hour playing with a barrel hoop and a stick. It was versatile. It was a game that could be played by one boy or a dozen. If it involved a group of boys, they usually spit up into teams and tried to get the hoop away from the others. I’m sure they had some kind of goal to reach to score points. Or boys could race the hoops if they had several.
Baseball wasn’t played until around the turn of the century.
Native American children had similar toys and games. The girls had dolls and the boys had stick games they played. Of course, Karen Kay would know more about this than I would. Maybe she’ll come by today and comment.
Can you imagine the children today having nothing to play with except these primitive toys? I swear, they wouldn’t know what to do without their Game Boys, I-Pods, and X Boxes!
What toys were your favorites when you were young?