As children my brother and I, for the most part, were free to explore the large properties that surrounded the homes in which we lived. We were rarely at a loose end and boredom was not something either of us would have known anything about. During sunlight hours we roamed without restriction, climbing trees, swinging off branches, hanging upside down from branches and amusing ourselves in the tall grasses in which we could lose ourselves.
The toys we had were more practical than those of other children with whom we played and the interchange between how we played with different groups of children provided us with variety and excitement. My brother and I showed our friends how to tie grass nooses with which to trip up others and how to avoid being ripped to shreds on the thorns of the large tree at the centre of our garden. We were intrigued by their indoor games and lost ourselves in the wonder of overflowing toy boxes.
A toy I was particularly attached to was a golliwog with a major role in our games and as real as any secret friend. The other “person” in tow was another stuffed animal, a monkey. In Kenya in the 1960s many families had monkeys as family pets so a stuffed monkey was not considered an odd toy.
What we lacked in the toy box we made up for in books, magazines and comics and the relative freedom of neglect (my mother was unwell and my father travelled away from home frequently). Each Saturday morning when my father was at home we drove in to town in the motor car and while my mother did her shopping my father took us to the book store, to select our magazines and comics for the week. My favourite were the Look and Learn magazines packed with pictures, history, geographic information, stories and word and number puzzles as well as noughts and crosses and mazes. There were also the Bunty and Casper the Friendly Ghost.
This piece was written in response to the November NaBloPoMo challenge prompt that asked whether we envied other children their toys and was there a in particular toy we would have liked. We never considered that we may not have been as well off as other families and boredom and envy are more recent characteristics with which children growing up pre 1960s would have been unfamiliar. How about you? Was there a toy that someone else had that you wished you owned?