When Play Was Simple…

When I was born in the early 60’s, there was no such thing as video games…the toys we had were simple, and if we weren’t playing with toys, we were outside running around in the fresh air (what a concept, eh, kids?).

The first toys I remember playing with were stuffed…a sock monkey made by my Aunt Nancy, I think, (my mom cut his tail off short because she was worried we would strangle ourselves), and a sleeping puppy, light brown with black ears.  I still have both these guys – they’re getting a little decrepit after nearly 50 years!

This sock monkey is similar to mine...

My brother and I spent hours building with Lincoln Logs.  Ours were wooden.  I always thought it was a shame when they starting making the logs out of plastic in the 70’s.

This is the Lincoln Log container that I remember...

We also had Tinker Toys (my dad was keen on construction toys).  They were also wooden.  I used to get frustrated because it was so hard to put the sticks into the holes sometimes (and once you got them in, they might be stuck there forever!).

This set looks like ours...

Later on, Dad got my brother a Meccano set for his birthday…I think Dad had more fun with it than Jeff did!

This is the same set my brother had...

I was quite jealous of my cousin, Barb, the Christmas she got a Mrs. Beasley doll.  She talked if you pulled her string (the doll, not my cousin).  I had a baby doll which wasn’t advertised on TV, and had never appeared on a sitcom with Buffy and Jody!

Mrs. Beasley Doll

My brother got a red Tonka pickup truck for his fourth birthday…he still has it, more than 40 years later.  It’s in a specially-built glass case in his basement rec room, along with all his Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars.  Some of those are worth several hundred dollars apiece now.

Jeff has this Hot Wheels car, known as The Red Baron...

We had lots of fun playing with Play-Doh…it only came in four colours then (blue, red, yellow and white), and we never had the accessories it comes with now.  The smell of it still takes me back to childhood.

Play Doh...

Somebody gave me a Liddle Kiddle doll for a gift.  I remember she came on a little round pedastal stand covered with a clear plastic dome , and cologne that smelled like lily of the valley.  To this day, that’s still one of my favourite scents.  I spilled the cologne in the back seat on a car trip once…my parents were not impressed! 

These are some Liddle Kiddles dolls...

Another toy we used to take on long car trips was the Etch-A-Sketch.  I found it extremely challenging trying to make diagonal lines.  It was fun flipping it over to erase it too.


For my sixth birthday, my parents gave me a Skipper doll…she was Barbie’s little sister.  I immediately gave her a bob haircut with my silver safety scissors.  When we visited my Uncle Bob and Aunt Christina’s house, my older teenage cousins, Linda, Bev and Carol, spent the morning sewing me a bunch of clothes for Skipper – groovy bell bottoms, skirts with snaps,  blouses, even a cape.  I still have some of them!  Later, Skipper lost her leg in a tragic accident (somebody pulled it off, and I couldn’t get it back on!).

I had the brunette version on the right...

The Slinky was a fun toy…our favourite thing was to send it down the stairs.


When we went to visit our grandparents, my Aunt Connie, who is only seven years older than I am, had a Twister game.  There were lots of giggles as the six cousins struggled to regain their balance.  She had a Ouija board too, but we weren’t successful in getting it to work.

Twister Game...

One year I got Super Spirograph for my birthday.  It had lots of drawing wheels, and pens that dried up quickly.  I found it difficult to master using it, being somewhat challenged in the area of coordination.

Super Spirograph...

Some of my friends had Easy Bake Ovens.  How I envied them!  I never got one of those!

This is how the Easy-Bake Oven looked then...

All my friends at school had Footsies…I convinced my parents to get me one: it had a yellow ring that went around my ankle, and the flower on the end was a red tulip.

My Footsie was a little fancier than this one...

My cousin, Sandy, had all kinds of little plastic foods that you could play grocery store with…I had fun visiting her and her brother, Larry!  One summer, Larry and I had a “chugalug” contest with iced tea…I drank four plastic Tupperware glasses full, and was the first to upchuck on Aunt Jerry’s carpet…she was not amused!

This set is something like Sandy's...

“Gumby” was one of the first claymation TV shows on.  My brother and I used to watch it all the time, and were very happy to be given a toy Gumby and Pokey as gifts.  We twisted them into every conceivable shape!  Last year, I was in Fredericton, when I spied some replica versions of them.  I snapped them up, deciding to keep Gumby, and give Pokey to Jeff for his birthday in the fall.  Hope, who was eleven at the time, asked me if she could play with Gumby one day.  She bent his arms and legs around for about five minutes, and brought him back to me.  “I’m done playing, Mom,” she said.  “I just have one question: how did you find that fun?”
“We didn’t have computers then,” I answered…

Gumby Doll...


Filed under family, memories

8 responses to “When Play Was Simple…

  1. I still love TinkerToys!

  2. planejaner

    love the “old” toys…interestingly, so did my kids! (what we could find of them, anyway…)
    simpler times? more safe? hmmm….

  3. Spirograph! Loved that one. Plenty of value in those old toys if they’re still around. Neat post.

    • Thanks, Clay! I got my granddaughter an Etch-a-Sketch and a Magna-Doodle for Christmas…they were packaged together. She’s having fun with the Magna-Doodle especially. Wendy

  4. Debbie

    I had one of those scented dolls as well, and – like you – to this day I remember and love that scent. I find it periodically in candles and the like (I found one the other day in a shop in Estes Park, CO, and my husband can’t figure out WHY I am drawn to the flowery scent!) and when I close my eyes it transports me back to a simpler time.

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