Natural Playthings…


The National Toy Hall of Fame recently added “The Magic 8-Ball”, the card game “Uno” and “Pinball” to its ranks.

This is the organization that also includes the “stick”, added to the hall in 2008.

Many times, people question why a “stick” should be in the Toy Hall of Fame.

Obviously, you never played out-of-doors as a kid.

“Sticks” were our guns when we played “Cowboys and Indians” or “War”.

We’d use a stick to diagram a sandloot football play in the dust (or snow).

Didn’t take a lot of money to play with a “stick”.

Just a little imagination.

My grandson Keaton used to have a big, plastic flower pot on his front porch, full of  “sticks” and each one had a different purpose or use.

Not every toy needs a battery or needs to be purchased to qualify as a toy.

So, I want to start the campaign today to include some of Mother Natures other offerings for the  National Toy Hall of Fame.

First  up, I’ll start the campaign to include “leaves”.

We’d rake ’em into big piles and jump in them, run through them, throw them at one another and we’d collect the pretty ones to iron between two pieces of wax paper and take to school.

Remember doing that?

Our kids raked leaves into “rooms”  and played  “house” in the backyard on Lee Lane in Mansfield, OH where we had a maple tree that was prodigious in its’ production of leaves.

After we exhausted the leaf-playing options, we’d gather them up in the utility trailer and I’d hook ito to the lawn tractor.

I’d pull the trailer full of leaves and giggling kiddos through the garden and they’d toss them off to be roto-tilled into the soil for next years’ garden.

The National Toy Hall of Fame ought to consider including “the creek”.

As a kid, we played for hours in the creek in the “woods” behind our Crestwood Drive  home.

In the summer, we’d build dams with sticks (there’s that Hall of Famer again!),  mud and rocks and see how  big of a lake we could create.

Other times, we’d lash sticks together (thank you Hall of Fame!) and make “boats” to float down the creek, sometimes to race, but most often just to see how far we could get them to go.

On occasion when one of the neighborhood septic systems started misbehaving, our creek would get a tad stinky but we really didn’t seem to care.

In the winter, the creek would freeze and we’d play a modified version of hockey, using bigger branches  (Hall of Fame once more!) as our hockey sticks and usually a tennis ball or a can as the puck.

When we got bored with that, we’d pretend to ice skate or try to break up the ice with rocks and such.

How can we not include “snow” in the Toy Hall of Fame?

Mother Nature’s frozen precipitation was a great “toy for us growing up in northern Ohio.

You’d start with a snow ball and roll it around the yard to get a big snow ball to serve as the base and then you’d roll at least 2 more smaller ones to make your snowman.

The first snow usually included leaves that didn’t get raked up in the fall and our snowman was never that pristine white you see in the movies.

Of course, you’d use sticks or branches  (There’s another reason for sticks being in the Toy Hall of Fame!)  for the arms.

While Christmas and winterlore would have you believe coal for the eyes, we just used pebbles from the driveway.

We rarelly used carrots for snowman noses.

In my neighborhood, if you left a carrot outside, some kid would eat it.

Obviously, we spent lots of time sledding and tobogganing.

(Did you have one of those aluminum saucers with the two canvas handles?)

But we also built snow walls to hide behind for those “battle to the death” snowball fights.

Sometimes after the really big snows, we’d tunnel into piles and make modified igloos.

In northen Ohio, ‘snow” gave us a great way to endure winter.

I’d also like to nominate “rocks” for the Toy Hall of Fame.

And not just any rock.

The flat ones that fit nicely in your had so you could “skip” them when the lake waters were calm.

You can actually buy skipping rocks on-line!

I probably threw a gravel pit over the years into Pelee Island’s North Bay.

The object was to see just how many skips or pats you could get out of a rock before it sank.

You sort of had to side arm ’em to get the proper trajectory and it was a thing of beauty when a rock left a pattern of rings on the water surface.

Sometimes when the water wasn’t so calm, I’d toss Toy Hall of Fame sticks  into the bay and pretend they were enemy ships.

I’d throw the non-skippable rocks at them, attempting to hit the ships and score a victory for our side.

As a kid, put me  on a beach with lots of rocks and twigs and I was occupied for hours.


All toys don’t need wheels,  to be plugged in or  wound up.


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