Growing up, I lived in six different houses (IBM's nickname, "I've Been Moved," is certainly apt). I was therefore surprised to happen upon a treasure trove of games and toys from my childhood while visiting my parents' current home in St. Michaels. How did these relics make the cut through so many moves? My folks had a particularly no-holds-barred approach to culling when they sold the suburban DC house of my adolescence to retire to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I can only assume my mom stored these toys in her nursery-school classroom, then, once she retired, decided to keep them in case neighbors ever pay a visit with grandchildren in tow.
While I generally subscribe to the belief, like Jessica, that "the things are not the memories," in this case, they most certainly are. I'm old enough to have lived through several waves of 80s pop culture nostalgia, and some ubiquities (Chutes and Ladders, Rainbow Brite) need no recollection-jogging whatsoever. But latent memories of more obscure childhood toys are generally not unearthed so easily - unless you unearth the objects themselves.
I've been yammering about Pizza Party to Shawn since 2003, when I spotted plates at Pottery Barn that exhumed memories of my favorite game from my childhood. He ended up giving the plates to me for my 23rd birthday, and every time we use them, Pizza Party is mentioned. This past weekend, Shawn finally got a chance to play Pizza Party, something I thought could never be. Sadly, he did not seize this opportunity, so I refamiliarized myself with the rules while setting the pieces out by myself. It was as sad as it sounds.
If Pizza Party was my favorite game, Flower-garden probably was close second. The rules (and most of the plastic pegs) were missing from the box, so although I couldn't recall the point of Flower-garden, I remembered what I liked so much about it: the sense of tranquility those colorful little felt pieces and a leafy green cardboard square instilled in me.
Amongst the My Little Ponies in the SheRa Princess of Power bag was my long-forgotten but treasured Dream Dancer. Don't get me wrong, her dufflemates are great and all, but they aren't exactly hard to track down. Dream Dancer, on the other hand, is a toy I suspect many of you had but few remembered until now. True, she looks a little worse for wear: the years have not been kind to her. But if I had tracked down two working double-AA batteries, I bet she could still perform a mean pirouette.
I hope this little trip down memory lane was as magical for you as it was for me. On vacation, Shawn and I visited a toy store to buy our landlords' children some gifts, and we remarked that toys now are so garish. "They don't make toys like they used to" is a universal gripe, no matter which decade you grew up during. But oh, those poor bereft Gen Yers. At least a lucky handful of them (Rockville Nursery School students who attended in the late 90s/early 00s and had my mom as their teacher) probably got the chance to play with these cherished toys of my youth.