Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Toy's Stories

Humpty Dumpty Circus created by Albert Schoenhut, ca 1920s


The Galt is developing an exhibit focusing on Toys & Games that will run October 1, 2011 to January 8, 2012. We asked people in the community to share some of their play things with us and we have some gems to add to the exhibit.
We are collecting stories along with the borrowed toys and games and these will become a significant part of the exhibition. There is the story of the brother and sister who both wanted the Clue game and, even though the brother scrawled his name on the box, it is in his sister's possession.

Another family loves to play Pictionary at Christmas. The competition is keen and they have found that the scribblers with stick people are often more successful than the more talented artists.

A Japanese game has a playing board with 9 squares along each side and playing pieces that move in unique ways, much like chess. The game was a gift from a guest from Japan. To help his Canadian hosts play the game he drew an instruction sheet showing which way each playing piece moved.

Barbie dolls first came out in 1959 and they continue to be popular toys with children today. Speciality dolls were created for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary and the one we have borrowed never left its box because it was purchased as a souvenir. Another donor brought in a circus pattern printed on fabric. There is a trapese dress for Barbie, a clown outfit for Ken and a striped tent. But the mystique of the circus didn't appeal as much to the young owner as she much preferred sewing glamorous evening gowns for her doll so the circus pattern remains intact.

Another toy offered to the Galt for the exhibit was a two story tin doll house complete with plastic furniture. The doll house was a gift from Aunt Mary and the donor and her cousin spent many hours playing house. I remember owning a similar doll house when I was a little girl. When my sister and I no longer played with it, my mother asked if we would be willing to give it away to a family in our neighbourhood. It was Christmas and our parents learned of a family who were really struggling to make ends meet. We cleaned up the doll house and the furniture and on Christmas Eve we put it, some toys from our brother, food and some socks Mom had knit into the car and we drove to a tiny old miner's shack. Dad took all these gifts to the door and knocked. When the door opened he offered everything to the tired woman who answered. Dad returned to the car and with a lump in his voice he explained how grateful the woman was to receive the gifts. If not for our gifts she would have had nothing to give her children on Christmas morning.


What stories do you have about your favourite toys or games? Share them with us!

1 comment:

  1. I remember playing dress up as a little girl. I had a wooden toy box which housed all of my favorites from dolls and stuffed toys to dress up clothes and some of my favorite story books. To this day I don't know why my mother did this but she gave me her old clothes to play with. One was her old bridesmaid dress (it had a maroon slip with a see through long sleeved dress with silver sparkles that was worn over top - it buttoned up in the front and had a lot of frills) and more importantly, the other was her wedding dress! My mom's wedding dress was very simple with long sleeves and a high collar. It didn't have that many frills or a super full skirt but she looked so lovely in it. I remember being shocked that she would let me run around in her wedding dress, which eventually got ruined from the many weddings and games of house acted out by my friends and I. I will say that I probably got more enjoyment out of it as a kid than I would have as a bride because my mom was a tiny woman and I would never have been able to wear her dress.

    Maybe many people don't often think of books as toys but they were my favorites. I had more wonderful stories in my collection than even I can remember. From Grimm's fairy tales to "The Book For Peace" to "Dr. Suess" and more. I remember that my absolute favorite was the story of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Their father was angry about his daughters going through so many pairs of shoes and disappearing at night so he put out a decree to the kingdom that any man who could find the answer to his problem could have one of his daughters in marriage and half of the kingdom. It turned out the girls were going to all night parties with handsome princes. They snuck through a secret passageway under their floor. A poor soldier got the girl and the land in the end. I also remember that every year at Christmas, my mom and dad and I would pick out a book and read it together - each taking turns reading a chapter to one another while we all bundled up in our pjs with cups of hot chocolate. I looked forward to it every year. The best part about books was that they could take me anywhere I wanted to go. After all these years not much has changed - I still can't help turning to a good old fashioned novel in order to relax from a long day. I guess the good thing about books is that they can be toys for adults too!

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