Thursday, December 4, 2008

Toys at Grandma's House

Braiding a Crown
W.A. Bouguereau

At my grandma's house I learned to braid daisies. Store-bought toys were few: there was a bare-naked doll having a bad hair day, some pick-up sticks and a tiny china tea set. At the other grandma's house I remember Chinese checkers, a 1,000 piece puzzle, some finger handcuffs made of straw, and a little ball.

Agnes Lundgren, December 1959
Age 69

But I was never bored when I visited. Grama L. showed me how to pile rocks and draw with sticks in the dirt to create a playhouse. We gathered eggs and I held the clothespins while she hung out the wash. Then I hid in the white, damp tent created by the sheets in the whipping wind. I visited the cow, and rode the old abandoned tractor which sat in the orchard. The older cousins played Andy-I-Over while the younger cousins played Red Rover, or ran races on the huge front lawn, with Tuffy, Grampa's dog.

Axel Lundgren, December 1959
Age 74 (with Tuffy)

Grama B. hid the Thimble and played the piano while I danced or sang. She baked cookies which I cut out and frosted. I explored her ancient, musty smelling basement with the hand-wringer and wash tub or searched through the back room which was unheated but filled with broken furniture, clothes and junk.

I had a fort under the quilt she was working on, which always filled the living room, where I listened, fascinated by the old ladies' conversations and their rolled nylon stockings and grandma shoes. If I was quiet, they forgot about me, and I learned some intriguing tidbits about the events in the neighborhood, as well as some of the facts of life.

Adelila and Hawley Bagley and Aunt Marie
(I'm the 12-year-old in the white blouse)

I rifled through Grama's old sheet music, played dress-up with Aunt Marie's jewelry and purses, dusting myself with a dressing table powder puff. We watched Lawrence Welk and waited anxiously for the Lennon Sisters, or listened to Grandpa recite Little Orphant Annie, Hiawatha and Casey at the Bat. I blew bubbles with empty spools in the dishwater and got my fingernails painted with shiny clear polish. On Thanksgiving we watched The Wizard of Oz on TV after dinner and sang to the tune of a ukulele. I remember making Hollyhock Dolls, climbing the apple tree and rolling down the hill in the backyard.

I'm a grandma now, and I want to give my grandkids memories that will bring them back to the time when they felt secure, confident, curious, safe, creative, resourceful and most of all, adored. By the time I had three grands, I had a whole playroom decked out with easels, kid-sized furniture, stick horses, a stuffed zoo, and at least a hundred books.

Amy 1979

Now, with nineteen grandkids between three months and eleven years I've pared down because of space and common sense. But I still want to have some cool stuff that's only at Oma's house. Memory makers.

Remembering friends from 1985.

Gabi wrote a post about Legacy Toys the other day, with a great list of toys kids love. There were even more ideas in the comments she received. For my Oma Legacy Toys I have some challenging parameters. They have to be easy to store, not need a giant space to be played with, adaptable for boys and girls of all ages, and timeless. I want to collect toys that the kids will love, but might not know they want. I'd love your suggestions!

These are a few of the things I have in my Oma toy collection:
  1. Books
  2. Brio wooden train
  3. Tea Set
  4. Dress-Ups
  5. Puppets
  6. Pick-up sticks, checkers, chess
  7. Uno and other card games
  8. Magnet shapes, letters and figures for the fridge
  9. Wooden dolls with magnetic clothes
  10. Flannel board characters and shapes
Chess Players
John Lavery

What do you remember playing at your Grandma's house?


Sheri said...

I love hearing about your grandparents and your childhood--mainly because it reminds me of my own. My grandparents weren't great at keeping toys around for us to play with, but they loved telling us stories.

Vintage toys from our era which I would include:
Marbles (I had a huge collection-wonder what happened to them!)
Jump ropes

Kay Dennison said...

When I went to Grandma D's, I played with my Uncle Val's old toys -- he was only about 10 years older than me. I liked it best if he had his electric trains hooked up. Way cool! When I went to Wisconsin. I spent my days outside -- either enjoying the tree swing or going out on the hay wagon with Grandpa and the Uncles for am allllllllll day hayride!

mama jo said...

loved the pictures..i need those..i've never seen them.

gab said...

Great post and great pix!

I remember the cardboard blocks in Grama's basement on Melody Ann Way. My favorite of all time was the player piano in the Park City house.

Anonymous said...

I remember running up and down grama Lundgren's huge front lawn and all her rose bushes.. I played like I was phoning friends with her phone that sat outside their kitchen in the hallway. I loved Christmas eve at their house. Grama and Grampa Bagley's house was fun in the summer..going into the backyard and then into grampa's garden with him and picking raspberries, making Christmas cookies and carmel with Grama..I can't remember any toys at either place, only time spent with them.

Keri said...

This is something I haven't thought about for a very long time. One Grandma had absolutely no toys. Books. Only books. Though there was land and a cabin and old cars and drawers full of paper and a piano and an accordion. My other Grandma had tiny salt and pepper shakers with dishes and little dolls. She had children's books and fisher price toys tucked in the drawers of her coffee table. She also had markers, crayons, magnetic letters, and stuffed animals. My favorite things were not the toys though, they were her jewelry collection and old photos that I would spend hours looking at.

Your collection sounds like great fun!

diane said...

My grandma taught me how to make hollyhock dolls too. Thanks for the memory.

I keep craft supplies on hand for my nieces and nephews. Cotton ball pictures, and macaroni necklaces are fun to make.

I wrote a post called The only toys you'll ever need. It's in my archives if you want pics. Tangle is one and I don't know how to describe the other. It's a frame with pegs in it that you can make impressions with your hands.

Katy said...

Hi Oma!!! Yeah, you've got some pretty cool stuff. Love, Katy

Anonymous said...

Great collection I wish to have all of them for my kids, You are awesome Oma!!

Anonymous said...

Here's a place you can get classic flannel board story figures:

This is a great idea and I love your list!

Bev said...

Thanks for this post Marty!

I wrote my own post on the subject too: