You can read about the impeachment and Mexican drug lords and the President’s visit to Atlanta elsewhere this weekend. I have more pleasant things on my mind. Turn with me now to those not-so-thrilling days of yesteryear while I talk about — toys.
Why not? Christmas is just a few weeks away. Santa and his elves must be working overtime to meet what will surely be a record setting demand this year. Besides, the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, N.Y., just released their selections for the Class of 2019. Matchbox cars, the coloring book and a card game called Magic made the cut, just edging out the Fisher-Price corn popper, Jenga and My Little Pony.
None of the above really did much for me, although I did spend a lot of time with coloring books as a child — never staying inside the lines. But reading the press release about the new additions to the Hall did make me curious about previous honorees. The list was impressive and flooded my soul with precious memories.
The ball was one of the first inductees. Not a baseball or football or golf ball. Just the generic ball, which is very appropriate. Think about when you were a kid — or had kids. How many hours did you spend bouncing, throwing, rolling, kicking and striking various types of balls? I spent hundreds of hours throwing a big bouncy ball to my son, Jackson. He would implore me to “throw it high so I have to jump for it.” Like every dad, I imagined him one day “jumping high” for a ball tossed by a UGA quarterback, between the hallowed hedges of Sanford Stadium.
That didn’t happen. Jackson is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 141 pounds and teaches Advanced Placement calculus that has more to do with . . . well, I have no idea what calculus has to do with, but I still would trade much of what I own for a few more evenings throwing a ball up high, so my son had to jump to catch it.
Some toys in the Hall of Fame are as generic as the ball, like the baby doll, the cardboard box and the stick. Others are not so generic. The Easy Bake Oven, for instance, was an early inductee. My sister, Myron, got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas one year. The concept was to actually cook food, over time, from the heat of a 100-watt light bulb. The only thing I remember my sister baking was a 3-inch Chef Boyardee pizza that tasted worse than it smelled, which is saying something.
The Hula Hoop is in the HOF, as well it should be. I remember the Hula Hoop craze and was actually pretty good at keeping one going around my bony little waist. I could probably still be pretty good at it, if only I had a bony little waist again.
Tinker Toys made the cut. That was my generation’s answer to Legos. I made some pretty amazing creations with my Tinker Toys and never caused anyone excruciating pain by leaving one where it could be stepped on in the middle of the night.
G.I. Joe and Barbie are the only two named characters enshrined in Rochester, unless you count the Teddy bear. Did you know that the Teddy bear was named after president Theodore Roosevelt? It was. You can look it up. In fact, you can do it at the same time you Google Toy Hall of Fame, because I know you want to see the whole list.
Many of my favorites are there. Silly Putty, the Slinky, View-Master, Mr. Potato Head, along with a few of my favorite games, like Scrabble, Monopoly and Twister.
Lionel Trains, of course, are in the Toy Hall of Fame. I bought one for my grandson, Sir Henley the Adorable, the week he was born, and we have a layout in my basement that travels through three rooms. Sometimes I even let Henley play with it.
Also on the list is the Magic 8 Ball. You know, they still sell those. I have one in my closet that we bought in anticipation of Henley learning to read. I decided it pull it out for this column and ask it a few questions, just to see if it were really magic. I’ll share.
Magic 8 Ball: Is the impeachment movement a politically motivated sham?
“It is decidedly so.”
Will the political climate get better soon?
“Outlook not so good.”
“Who will be the Democrat’s candidate in 2020?
“Cannot predict now.”
See, it works. Actual answers.
Now, one more. Magic 8 Ball. Have I been good enough to receive a visit from Santa this year?
“Reply hazy. Try again.”
I don’t think I will. I asked the Magic 8 Ball three times if my wife would be nice to me this weekend. The replies? “Don’t count on it,” “My sources say no,” and “Very doubtful.”
That’s better than when I actually asked my wife, though. She told me to “go fly a kite.”
The kite. Also in the Toy Hall of Fame.