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Friday, 27 December 2013

The Book of Me - Toys and Games

This  post was prompted by Julie at Anglers Rest  and  her  series " Book of Me - Written by You", where she asks us here to describe our memories of toys and games.  

I was a "dolly girl" -  I loved my dolls and soft toys, which, as my mother was a dressmaker, were the smartest in the street.  With my best friend, Carol, we would wheel  our prams up and down  and put the dolls in their cot (an old box), with a crocheted blanket and lace trimmed pillow and quilt cover, again  courtesy of my mother, or set up the doll's tea set for a tea party.

My dolls were not particularly sophisticated, though I had one that said "Mama" if you pressed it in the right place.  My mother made rag dolls, but my very special doll she made me in 1953 for the Queen's Coronation, with a long fur trimmed purple velvet train, and embroidered, beaded dress.  I so wish now I had kept it as a family heirloom.   

I had a "Last Doll" for my 11th birthday, which seems in today's lifestyle, really old for a doll. The inspiration came from the book "Sarah Crewe or the little Princess", by Frances Hodgson-Burnett, where Sarah was given a grand doll with an extensive wardrobe on her 11th birthday.  I saw the book serialised on television and decided that would mark the end of my "dolly" era - it didn't really,  as I went on to collect costume dolls.

I cannot remember having a teddy and cannot recollect the soft toy I am clutching in this photograph.  but I did have that popular 1950's toy (and now very politically incorrect) a golliwog in  black and white checked trousers, a red jacket and bow tie - again made by my mother.   

We got a new jigsaw every Christmas.  The one I best remember was of a winter scene of skaters at the White Horse Inn, near Salzburg in Austria - 45 years later I actually visited the inn on holiday.  Games were popular such as dominoes, snakes and ladders, ludo, tiddlywinks and colouring books and join-the-dot books.

Getting a pristine notebook to write in, was a delight, as was a blank scrapbook to show off my collection of scraps and a new pencil case, with new pencils, rubbers and sharpener to take to school at the start of the fresh term.  The really classy one that everyone wanted was wooden where the top swivelled round to show the bottom compartment - the only drawback was it was heavy in your satchel. 

I remember being  given (from the TV series) a Muffin the Mule and a Sooty puppet and these formed a major part of the "make believe" games we played. Puppet shows were a favourite pastime with the clothes-horse and a sheet, as the theatre and simple glove puppets made from felt and bits and pieces from my mother's trimming box.  I was usually the script-writer  and heroine (of course) and my brother did the sound effects, with  my father the hero or villain role and my mother and aunt the audience.  At Christmas, led by my father  we usually put on a play for the family.  The one requirement was that should wear a long dress with a stole of my mother's, or as a maid wear a doily with streamers  on my head.  As you can gather,  I liked dressing up.   

I enjoyed playing at shops, so a toy till , with play money  was an ideal choice.   We also played at libraries, so I was in seventh heaven to be given a date stamp - and I went on to become a librarian!

Books remained one of my favourite presents for anytime of year, with Enid Blyton at the top of my list.

For my brother it was  meccano, marbles, his train set, Dinky cars and Airfix models.  Outside, he had his pedal car and football, whilst  I had my tricycle and skipping rope to practice  "crossovers" and "bumps".   Yoyos and then hula hoops  were a great fad in the playground - no doubt rejected these days by the "health and safety" brigade.

Looking back, toys seem very simple compared with the range today's children have in their crowded toy boxes, but none then  needed batteries!  I have happy memories of what we did have.  


  1. That was a lovely trip down memory lane. I'd like a ban on battery operated objects for children under the age of say 15.Judging from my experience I'm quite sure they would be happier etc etc.

  2. What a delightful post Susan? You obviously have very special memories and your story brought it all to life. what a treasure that story will be for your granddaughter in the years to come. Such a shame your coronation doll didn't survive...she could have been revamped for the Jubilee.


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