It is a thrill today going to the stores and buying sophisticated toys for the children. There are the educational games and toys, the electronic toys, the expensive and bulky toys like motorized vehicles and cycles, etc. It is indeed a thrill shopping for toys today, not to mention the expense. Shopping for toys today can range all the way to one thousand dollars if you can afford it.
Not so 25 years ago when most of the toys we enjoyed were actually made at home. Dad used to fabricate those popular stilts, which were simply sticks or poles that allowed us to walk 2 or 3 feet above the ground. We used stilts to walk on areas covered with burrs and the fun of it was to watch someone fall on the burrs. We used to walk in the sea when were dressed. Oh, what a challenge. And the best race was a race along the beach on very sandy area. Stilts, we do not see them today. Oh, what fun and excitement our young kids are missing.
Tops were also made right at home. Not every dad could do them, but there were some guys who were experts. They used hard wood like the guava or ziricote. They shaped it nicely and balanced it, painted it and inserted a piece of galvanized nail at the tip.
Tops were made in light weight for long distance dancing and heavy for top fighting. The objective of the fight was to try to break or crack up the opponent’s top. Top dancing and making tricks was a very popular art 25 years ago. And why don’t we see any more top dancing?
Kites were also fabricated by most dads and taught to the kids as well. Using small pieces of sticks or the mid rib of the coconut leaf, some paper and glue we could do the regular triangular kits, rectangular, circles, half moons, birds, and the most popular boxes which was the only kite that did not use a tail.
Kites were made so that they could buzz or sing as we used to say. This was done with some frills that were placed on the kite. What a lovely sight to see children along the beach and by the park raising their kites in the air.
Sling shots were popular toys. They were made either using the crutch of a branch or carving a piece of stick into the Y-shape and using any piece of rubber that we could place our hands on.
To tell the truth, only once in a while were cars and trucks fabricated. But sailing boats were a popular art and they used to be able to sail also.
Do you know the “caparucho”? It is a small gadget hanging on a piece of string and the object was to fling it and have it land onto a piece of stick. These were also made locally. Other toys made at home were wheelbarrows, wagons, and the sling like the one used by David to slay Goliath.
Now as for girls, they were lucky. Nobody made dolls. They bought those plastic baby dolls whose heads were half the size of the body, and they used their imaginations to enjoy a day at playing mama. And so it was that we kids enjoyed the thrills of making our own toys 25 years ago.
- by Angel Nuñez, Columnist