My younger son is big into old-time video games . . . well, they’re vintage to him at age 16. He scored a Sega Dreamcast system (circa 1988) for Chanukah and a much-coveted (for some reason) Atari 7800 system (1984ish) as a
bribe reward for returning to his high school.
Recently, he was telling me how much he enjoys playing certain video games (which still include the Nintendo 64 and Game Cube, as well as the Wii and Xbox 360). Then he said, “Don’t you remember a favorite toy or game from your childhood?”
Which got me thinking. The only real toy I can recall from when I was a kid was a stuffed monkey (Pierre) I adored. And I loved my first camera, a Kodak Brownie.
But other than that? We were a typical middle-class family of four kids, an overworked dad, and a stay-at-home mom (until my little brother, the hotshot Chicago lawyer, was eight) trying to survive and thrive in the 1950s and ’60s in the Chicago area. There wasn’t a lot of extra cash around for frivolous things.
But who needed material items when you had siblings and friends? We played outside all the time, even when it was bitter cold. Moms wouldn’t let kids into the house unless it was time to eat, do homework, watch the “Ed Sullivan Show,” or go to bed. There were no exceptions!
I may not remember having toys, but I’ll never forget Tag, alley races, returning pop bottles for refunds, buying penny candy at the mom and pop candy shop, going to the beach (we lived far north in Chicago, close to Evanston and Lake Michigan), walking miles to and from the library (my mom didn’t drive), and just plain having fun with all the kids in our neighborhood.
For me, there was nothing better than playing with my siblings. That’s why my older son has a little brother.
Sure, the TV only had three channels, and, more often than not, it was black and white. But who had time to watch it when you were busy having fun? Few people were overweight, because we didn’t have fast-food places, and everyone seemed to walk—we were a lucky generation!
No, we weren’t wealthy in material items, but we truly were rich. Those were the days, my friend!
I’m sure after this long harangue that my #2 son was left with only one thought: Couldn’t Mom have just said yes or no?