I actually should have written this a couple of days ago, but I got busy over the weekend helping a friend get her house cleaned up, so I missed a couple of days.  Oh, well…

Today’s topic is about my favorite childhood toys.  Honestly?  What I enjoyed playing with more than anything else was my FRIENDS.  It didn’t especially matter what toys we played with as long as we were playing together.  I wasn’t a big Barbie fan as a child, but when my sister and/or other girlfriends wanted to play with Barbies, I happily joined in.  When the neighborhood kids (boys as well as girls) played cops and robbers, or cowboys and indians, or freeze tag, throw the statue, hide-and-seek, kick the can or any number of other games we knew or could make up, I happily joined in.

At one point, we had a neighborhood football team (I grew up on a street named Yellowpine, so we were the Yellowpine Yellowjackets).  Since I took ballet lessons, and had stronger legs than even some of the boys, I became the place kicker.  Granted, we only played in the street or in our yard (until my dad planted a hedge along the 50-yard line…), and we generally forgot to keep score or got bored well before “half time,” but it was all still really fun.  Much of the time, in any game that was a variant of “tag,” we spent more time arguing over who was supposed to be “it,” who was “it” the last time, who hadn’t been “it” in a long time, etc., than we did actually playing the games.  This frustrated and annoyed me, so I would often volunteer to be “it” just so we could PLAY!!!

In the rare times that I was alone, I tended to make up games and stories with my teddy bears or with my imaginary friends (who, coincidentally enough, also happened to be a family of bears), so I guess my favorite “toys” would have to be my bears.  I have still got the very first teddy bear that I was ever given, at my first Christmas, when I was not even 6 months old yet.  He’s well-loved, threadbare, missing an eye, and his stuffing has definitely deteriorated a great deal over the years.  He never had a name until one year, probably around Christmas, I saw a tv show starring an animated “Theodore E. (for Edward) Bear.”  I thought that was very clever.  Theodore E. Bear.  Ted E. Bear for short.  But I couldn’t remember “Theodore” for some reason, so I named him “Thomas Edward Bear,” all the while believing I had it right.  It was many years later that I realized my error, but by then it was, of course, too late.

I know I had other toys, but my teddy bears are the ones I remember the most.  When I was probably 5 or 6, I got a Buzzy Bear (from the Sears catalog, I’m pretty sure), and he had a string that made him talk when you pulled it.  The string (or the voice box, or maybe both) didn’t really last very long (although probably longer than an equivalent toy would today…), but I still loved him fiercely.  I had another well-loved bear, originally named Laughing Bear for (his) wide-open, apparently laughing mouth.  I later re-named (him) to Cindy Bear after Yogi Bear’s girlfriend, I’m not sure why, and he became a she that easily (no trips to Sweden involved).  I also had a stuffed Smokey Bear, and he had a place of honor by my side every year for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade so he could see the big balloon representative of himself on tv.  Those 4 were my constant companions, and I still have them, stored up in the top of my old bedroom closet at my Mom’s house.

In addition to those guys, there were yo-yos and Lincoln Logs and Play-Doh and Silly Putty and Slinky’s and Hula Hoops and metal roller skates that fastened over your shoes and Slip N Slides and badminton and croquet and many, many more that I know I am forgetting.  All in all, a pretty healthy, happy, “normal” childhood.

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