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Silly Putty, the Slinky and Etch-A-Sketch

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 2

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This statement is usually directed by the old at the young as some type of veiled warning. Instead, in this particular instance, it is directed at the old as a not too veiled reference to hypocrisy.

The young will have a hard time believing this fact but, when I was their age, old people would look at the marvelous toys we had, Silly Putty, the Slinky and the Etch-A-Sketch and loudly proclaim that life was too soft for the likes of us children.

Then, they would reminisce about their childhood. Back in the good old days, they would maintain that they had played in cardboard boxes and their friends would drop rocks on their heads in the middle of the road as birds would peck at their eyes. Now, THAT was fun according to them. You had to have imagination, they would say.

These oldsters had no tolerance for the wondrous toys of the moment. Wonder toys, indeed! Some plasticized putty, a spring and some semi-magnetic iron filings are the essence of my childhood toys. Still, they worked their magic. Here are the magical objects of my generation.

Silly Putty(84160)
Silly Putty
This seemingly innocuous little substance was a prankster’s dream. You could put it in the oven and it emitted a fouls stench, hold it under a ct’s nose and the poor animal would go ballistic and you could transfer the ink from any newspaper onto wall or other “unsuitable” surface. Its properties were simply magical to a ten year old boy.

The Slinky
It is hard to explain, to the uninitiated, the pure, unadulterated joy of watching this machine flow and then stop and then flow again down a flight of stairs. The dance of kinetic and potential energy kept many a small boy and his dog enraptured for days on end.

Etch A Sletch
The Etch-A-Sketch
By far, the most technological of our pre-Internet toys, the Etch-A-Sketch combined a magnetic faceplate with finely shaved iron filings that would let a talented and persistent artist create pictures of crude but identifiable objects. Mostly, we would limit ourselves to curse words or obscene images it was  still fun.


… and Then the Inevitable Happens
Each generation manufactures its own magic whether with tinker toys, D&D modules or PlayStation games. Adults forget that fun is not about the objects. It is about the people that surround you as you indulge in your favorite pastime.

Of course, children grow into adults and replace the toys of youth with games and sports in their teenage years and finally the with responsibilities of adulthood. Still, the toys of youth are always fondly remembered.I always wonder about the last time I ever played with a toy. Surely, I had intended to return to it on the following day, but something must have intruded.

I'm certain that I will again return to the things of my childhood. Perhaps, I’ll even learn to love them again in my senility.



Feb 9, 2012 3:57pm
Great memories...my kids look at me with complete bewilderment when I talk about the toys I played with as a kid. It's funny how when we were kids, being kept indoor was punishment; now it's being sent outside.
Feb 9, 2012 3:59pm
Too true, Inked. I grew up in the Bronx and the worst punishment was to be isolated from my friends.
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