When I heard about the Child’s Play: Toys and Technology exhibition, it immediately triggered a “What do I have in the attic?” reaction.
A quick rummage produced a tank, a submarine and a rocket! Now in my late sixties, my childhood was not dominated by electronics and computers – these came later. But my toys were things that worked.
The tank could climb over obstacles built out of my wooden bricks: as the turret rotated, puffs of talc powder came out of the gun and the tank commander popped up and down.
Across the road from our house was a park. Superb for firing my rocket, long before the first satellite or manned space flight. Armed with a container of water, I could put some water into the rocket, pump up the airspace as hard as I could with a special pump, then release it amid a showering spray and watch it fly up to about 100 feet. Delight and technology in practice!
On wet Saturdays, I would spend many happy hours playing with the submarine in a bathtub full of water. It really submerged and my only regret was the limitations of the bath. There was no yacht pond near-by and anyway, how would you prevent it from getting stuck on the bottom of the pond or being stranded in the middle?
With the internet, we can call up a multitude of websites of toys and see so many items that trigger memories: “I used to have one of these” or “I really wanted one of these”. So we have to ask, “Why on earth did I still have that toy in a box in the attic?” Perhaps we are reluctant to relinquish the memories of these happy hours in the hope and expectation that our offspring might someday derive pleasure from the toys which once enhanced our childhood.
If this blog post has left you wondering how children’s playthings have changed over the last 150 years, why not explore our Child’s Play: Toys and Technology exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland? Showing until the 10 January 2016. Admission free.