Post-Christmas Nostalgia

 

I had the day off today, So I spent most of it doing next to nothing – and the rest doing actually nothing.  I am cooking dinner now, still in my sleepwear. I was looking out the window, looking at the Christmas lights my neighbors still have up. I was thinking back on the toys I got as a youth, the ones that I spent the most time with — the most fun, most dangerous, etc.

This one has to be the most dangerous, but also the one my father and I spent the most time playing with. We would build meccano set machinery that was powered by the steam engine…

It lasted many years. It finally was destroyed when my cousin and I accidentally let it boil dry – the front plate fell out. We could have soldered back in place — the whole thing is made of tin — but my dad would never get around to fixing it.

The other toy is a compressed gas/water rocket. It’s not particularly dangerous. The only time we played with it was on boxing day — or maybe even on the afternoon of Christmas day. My dad was absolutely giddy watching us fill the rocket with water, going outside, and firing tit into the air. It went really high up… 30 or 40 feet at least. It was a bitterly cold day (maybe -20ish with a strong wind). As we launched the rocket, my sister and I got a facial of tap water as the rocket climbed…

We scrambled back into the house as quickly as we could. Our coats, mitts, and toques had been soaked. My dad was roaring with laughter. I think this was the only time we’d played with this thing, but my dad definitely got his money’s worth of entertainment value on this gift.

I hope you’ve had a Merry Christmas building pleasant memories with your families. Any memorable or dangerous toys from your youth?

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  1. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    I’ll never forget my Daisy BB gun…..

    • #1
  2. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    I never got my “toy” steam engines and “visible V-8” engines that I wanted as a kid, but I’ve gotten them as an adult!

    • #2
  3. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    I’ll never forget my Daisy BB gun…..

    Did you put somebody’s eye out?

    Or however that was said in the movie…

    • #3
  4. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    kedavis (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    I’ll never forget my Daisy BB gun…..

    Did you put somebody’s eye out?

    Or however that was said in the movie…

    No, my father made it very clear that I was not to aim it at any human…

    • #4
  5. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    We had the water rocket too. Nothing more dangerous that I can remember. 

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Lawn darts. 😜

    • #6
  7. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    I sent in some cereal box tops and received a water rocket much like the one pictured. Later, I was given a two-stage water rocket. The first stage was a larger version of the small rocket that had some kind of valve on top that the second stage fit into. The second stage seemed to go really high starting from the top of the arc of the first stage. I had a lot of fun with them. I received them in the summer, so the soaking I got on launch was an added benefit.

    Besides having several different kinds of balsa rubber-band propeller planes and gliders, I had a Wham-O Bird that flew by flapping its wings. 

    My father made me some nice home-made kites from hollow reedy weeds, newspapers, and string. We tied long tails on them made from left-over material my mother provided.  They seemed to fly better than the store-bought kind. I had one of them out to about 200 or 300 feet, but lost it while I was trying to tie on another roll of string. These were an autumn toy, because that was when the weeds were available. Dad always said that autumn winds were steadier and better for kite flying than the winds of spring.

    • #7
  8. Mad Gerald Coolidge
    Mad Gerald
    @Jose

    My Dad gave me a very similar steam engine – still got it.  He specifically liked it because when he was small (1920s) his father ran a stationary steam engine at a coal mine.

    Dad gave my brother and I a unicycle when he happened to fine one.  He’d always wanted one.  It never occurred to me to ask Santa for a unicycle.  Anyway, we put in a lot of time on it.  I could ride up and down the drive way – maybe 200 yards. My brother rode it in the homecoming parade.

    • #8
  9. Steve Fast Coolidge
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    I had a water rocket like yours, and it was so much fun! I wonder what happened to it.

    Thanks for reminding me of this.

    • #9
  10. Steve Fast Coolidge
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    I got a 160 in 1 Electronic Project Kit when I was in junior high. I think it was called a bread board with wires to connect capacitors, resistors, a transistor, a speaker, a flashing light, etc. and a book of projects that you could make. I learned so much about electricity from that set, and that knowledge has served me well to this day. It taught me how a transistor works and how to make an LED light up with different numbers. When I took physics in high school, that set had already given me a practical foundation of electricity.

    Recently I found it in my parents’ basement, and my mom said she had been disappointed that I didn’t like it when I got it. I was so surprised that she thought that because it was one of the most enlightening toys that I ever received.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    I got an electric set when I was in junior high. I think it was called a bread board with wires to connect capacitors, resistors, a transistor, a speaker, a flashing light, etc. and a book of projects that you could make. I learned so much about electricity from that set, and that knowledge has served me well to this day. It taught me how a transistor works and how to make an LED light up with different numbers. When I took physics in high school, that set had already given me a practical foundation of electricity.

    Recently I found it in my parents’ basement, and my mom said she had been disappointed that I didn’t like it when I got it. I was so surprised that she thought that because it was one of the most enlightening toys that I ever received.

    I had a couple of those too, been surprised to find out how many different types were made.

    On the more serious side, I’ve collected a bunch of the Heathkit/Zenith electronics courses including the books, parts, and “trainers” with the breadboards and power supplies etc.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    I had a water rocket like yours, and it was so much fun! I wonder what happened to it.

    Thanks for reminding me of this.

     

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/334700620859

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/325493821327

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/394118524640

     

    And more!

    • #12
  13. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Mrs. Tabby and I enjoy watching our grandchildren playing with the Little People toys that their mother (our daughter) played with 30 years ago and we stored in the interim. Many of the parts, and even the Little People themselves, are “dangerous” by today’s standards because their small size is perceived to create a swallowing risk, but it’s been a long time since our grandchildren (ages 3 and 5) put random things in their mouths. Today’s “Little People” are much larger. Our grandchildren are fascinated with the intricacy and the movement of the parts that the relatively small size of the 1990-ish version provides. It helps their amusement that the hand-crank on the car elevator on the parking garage triggers a bell (a physical bell, not an electronic bell sound). 

    • #13
  14. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    From my own childhood, but not particularly dangerous, we spent hours upon hours in metal pedal cars (late 1950s, very early 1960s). We pedaled them so much we’d wear out the drive mechanism. Our house was in an area in which many new houses were being built, so we’d retrieve scrap drywall pieces from the construction trash and use their edges as chalk to draw “roads” on our driveway. We had a large curved driveway, so we had plenty of space to “drive” around. (Southern California, so we could do this year-round.)

    Somewhat related category were Tonka trucks. Our patient mother let us have an entire section of the yard in which to dig and move dirt for our Tonka construction projects. [My mother had adopted the view that Erma Bombeck eventually popularized that our childhood was a limited time, and that she could have nice grass and pretty flowers in her yard after we were grown.]

    My parents were vehemently anti-gun, so my brother and I never had the wild west gun stuff that was popular at the time (such as Davy Crockett stuff), let alone an actual BB gun. Although my father worked on real-life rockets, I never got into model rocketry. 

    • #14
  15. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I sent in some cereal box tops and received a water rocket much like the one pictured. Later, I was given a two-stage water rocket. The first stage was a larger version of the small rocket that had some kind of valve on top that the second stage fit into. The second stage seemed to go really high starting from the top of the arc of the first stage. I had a lot of fun with them. I received them in the summer, so the soaking I got on launch was an added benefit.

    Besides having several different kinds of balsa rubber-band propeller planes and gliders, I had a Wham-O Bird that flew by flapping its wings.

    My father made me some nice home-made kites from hollow reedy weeds, newspapers, and string. We tied long tails on them made from left-over material my mother provided. They seemed to fly better than the store-bought kind. I had one of them out to about 200 or 300 feet, but lost it while I was trying to tie on another roll of string. These were an autumn toy, because that was when the weeds were available. Dad always said that autumn winds were steadier and better for kite flying than the winds of spring.

    Now you’ve given me a thought. Wouldn’t it have been fun to lift the kite up a fifty feet or so and try shooting the water rockets at it?  Oh to be a kid again!

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    You could make a decent model trebuchet with an Erector Set. Perfect for flinging a handful of Barbie heads into the doll house.

    • #16
  17. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Percival (View Comment):

    You could make a decent model trebuchet with an Erector Set. Perfect for flinging a handful of Barbie heads into the doll house.

    And you would know this because  . . . .?

    • #17
  18. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Percival (View Comment):

    You could make a decent model trebuchet with an Erector Set. Perfect for flinging a handful of Barbie heads into the doll house.

    The heads with the longest hair would fall short and would have unpredictable trajectories…

    • #18
  19. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    OccupantCDN:

    This one has to be the most dangerous, but also the one my father and I spent the most time playing with. We would build meccano set machinery that was powered by the steam engine

     

    I loved the smell of Esbit tablets in the morning. Meccano also made Dinky Toys.

    • #19
  20. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Percival (View Comment):

    You could make a decent model trebuchet with an Erector Set. Perfect for flinging a handful of Barbie heads into the doll house.

    Or so you’ve heard. 

    • #20
  21. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    I got a 160 in 1 Electronic Project Kit when I was in junior high. I think it was called a bread board with wires to connect capacitors, resistors, a transistor, a speaker, a flashing light, etc. and a book of projects that you could make. I learned so much about electricity from that set, and that knowledge has served me well to this day. It taught me how a transistor works and how to make an LED light up with different numbers. When I took physics in high school, that set had already given me a practical foundation of electricity.

    Recently I found it in my parents’ basement, and my mom said she had been disappointed that I didn’t like it when I got it. I was so surprised that she thought that because it was one of the most enlightening toys that I ever received.

    I see you added the photo.

    That’s not a traditional “breadboard,” which is just holes for inserting terminals and wires etc, the later electronic kits from Radio Shack and others – including the Heathkit/Zenith ones – you plugged in the components too.  Such as this Heathkit ET-3100:

     

     

    The various models had different varieties of fixed and variable power supplies, signal generators, etc.  But only a few of the controls are part of the main unit.  Everything else was done on the “breadboard.”

    • #21
  22. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    You could make a decent model trebuchet with an Erector Set. Perfect for flinging a handful of Barbie heads into the doll house.

    Or so you’ve heard.

    • #22
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    kedavis (View Comment):
    That’s not a traditional “breadboard,” which is just holes for inserting terminals and wires etc, the later electronic kits from Radio Shack and others – including the Heathkit/Zenith ones – you plugged in the components too.  Such as this Heathkit ET-3100:

    It’s effectively a breadboard. The connections are made by attaching wires to the little springs sticking up. The components are on the other side. It’s pretty neat because it has the wiring diagram of the component on top so the user can learn what they are. I had one too. It was a great toy.

    • #23
  24. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Percival (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    That’s not a traditional “breadboard,” which is just holes for inserting terminals and wires etc, the later electronic kits from Radio Shack and others – including the Heathkit/Zenith ones – you plugged in the components too. Such as this Heathkit ET-3100:

    It’s effectively a breadboard. The connections are made by attaching wires to the little springs sticking up. The components are on the other side. It’s pretty neat because it has the wiring diagram of the component on top so the user can learn what they are. I had one too. It was a great toy.

    Actually the components – resistors, transistors, diodes, etc – are visible on the same side too, on the “top,” and the diagrams are next to them.

    I’m not sure what the value was in having a 7-segment LED display in that set was, without appropriate circuitry to use it.  My project in one of the High School electronics classes I took was a “Temper Timer,” based on the old “count to 10 before you get mad…” thing.  It started at 0, counted to 9, and at the next count an “alarm” sounded.”  It used a 555 timer chip, 7490 Decade Counter chip, and 7447 BCD-To-7-Segment Decoder/Driver chip.  Plus the LED display “chip” itself, of course.  While it wasn’t much, it was the first digital (TTL) project in any of the 5 or 6 High Schools in Salem, Oregon.

    And I still own a Sencore TV RF field strength meter that I bought on ebay from Don Lancaster, author of various “Cookbooks” in those years, including the “TTL Cookbook” which I also still have.  (Somewhere…)

    • #24
  25. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Original (phenolic) breadboard didn’t come with pre-wired holes etc:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • #25
  26. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Original (phenolic) breadboard didn’t come with pre-wired holes etc:

    I’ve seen them, thanks. I’ve been using them for forty years.

    • #26
  27. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Percival (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Original (phenolic) breadboard didn’t come with pre-wired holes etc:

    I’ve seen them, thanks. I’ve been using them for forty years.

    Over 50 years for me.  :-)  Just didn’t see why you’d refer to those pre-fab experiment things as “breadboards.”

    • #27
  28. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    Member Full Size Tabby @FullSizeTabby 11 Hours Ago

    From my own childhood, but not particularly dangerous, we spent hours upon hours in metal pedal cars (late 1950s, very early 1960s).

    Red (Farmall) tractor, about 1952, rode the fool out of it.  Chillicothe, Texas.  Last time I saw it, it was a pile of rust.  (No plastic back then, you know?)

    • #28
  29. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I got some sort of ticking time ball made of hard black plastic. It was supposed to represent a bomb and you had to wind it up and throw it to the next person as it ticked, because when it rang it was curtains for you. I threw it to my sister and knocked out her front tooth.  That was a terrible day and a very badly designed toy.

    • #29
  30. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Original (phenolic) breadboard didn’t come with pre-wired holes etc:

    I’ve seen them, thanks. I’ve been using them for forty years.

    Over 50 years for me. :-) Just didn’t see why you’d refer to those pre-fab experiment things as “breadboards.”

    🙄

    • #30
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