BY IVOR JONES
While Lockdown has seen children out and about and getting creative IVOR JONES remembers a time when adventure was found on every street and toys and board games ruled.
IN 1913 A HOSPITAL WAS ESTABLISHED at Bexley, near Hurstville to repair dolls. It has since closed but my wife once went there to have a repair done to a doll and was told that it was a very early doll (pictured) manufactured in Germany.
I have been interested in all sorts of toys and games from a young age. I can remember around the age of four or five being entranced by a spinning top owned by my next-door neighbour.
At around the same time, I can remember badgering my father about a cut-out male doll I spotted in a local toy store when we lived in Bristol, UK, with cut out military uniforms that I wanted. He ended up going to the shop after hours and getting it for me.
At about that same period my grandfather, who died shortly after, gave me a toy petrol tanker that I dearly loved. At around the age of 10 or 11, my parents gave me a Hornby Clockwork Railway for Christmas and my father also made me a toy farm in which he used a mirror as a duck pond.
Children have imagination and enjoy playing games and activities and through this, their mind develops. Depending on the age, kids have enjoyed playing “peek-a-boo”, hide and seek, Snakes and Ladders, Snap, Ludo, TiddlyWinks and Draughts, all fairly simple games.
As we grew older the games became more tactical and complex. We played Monopoly to see who can build up the greater range of property and cash reserves.
Can you recall games such as Twister, Totem Tennis or Slip and Slide back in the 1980s? They kept kids occupied during school holidays or on weekends.
Kids also like to imitate and play dress up, borrowing mum’s high heels, lipstick etc. or perhaps they had a nurse’s costume or cowboy outfit. Superman and Batman costumes were also popular. Party games such as pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs, sack races, egg and spoon races and bob for an apple were common.
When there was much less traffic you would often see boys and girls playing street cricket, riding homemade billy carts down the street or playing marbles along the gutters. Quoits or horseshoe throwing was also another activity that was played by children.
Remember wheelbarrow and three-legged races? Making a shanghai (catapult or slingshot), or if you are from the UK playing “conkers”. You would also use knucklebones to play “Jacks”, drop sticks from a bridge into a creek and play “Pooh Sticks” to see which one came out of the other side of the bridge first.
At the beach, you would practice your engineering and architectural skills by building sandcastles. Perhaps you may have played “War Games” pretending to be a knight or perhaps a marine. In parks and playgrounds, we once had monkey bars, see-saws and roundabouts (razzle dazzles) as well as swings and slides.
In the 1800s most toys were made of wood during the early 1900s tin was used for toy trains and cars. Dolls were mostly either cloth and later also came in porcelain.
From the mid-1900s many toys were made from moulded plastics. During the 1990s, and later, computer games replaced many of the old favourite pastimes, unfortunately, and children are not as adventurous.