Everyone’s favorite memory as a child was fondly receiving their favorite toy or game at Christmas time. I will write my favorites here in my new story. As living in the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago in the late 1960s, I instantly remembered the toys that I had were from Fisher-Price Toys. I had the toy Ferris Wheel, the locomotive engine, and the school bus. The Fisher-Price little people came included with the toys. It consisted of men, women, kids, and dogs and each of them had assorted colors of their hair, hats, and bodies. My favorite one was The School Bus. When I lived in Roseland in the early 1970s and attended a Greek private school, I pretended the kids at school were the same ones as the little people.
The places that sold toys in Roseland were at Kresge’s, American Toy Distributors, and Gately’s People Store. All located on South Michigan Avenue on the same block my family lived. My parents have purchased toys from other stores outside the neighborhood for us. Once my mother bought a box of dominoes at Sears, which was at State Street in Downtown Chicago. We also went to the Children’s Bargain Town USA Toy Store in South Chicago. I wrote a story about that toy store a while back and, it is on my blog.
The toy department at Gately’s People Store was at the lower level of the store. It was near the famous doughnut machine that everyone fondly remembered. The toy department wasn’t very spacious, but the toys displayed were beautiful. The particular ones that I recalled were the Tonka Toys. My parents purchased three of them for Christmas. My two brothers and I played with those toy trucks for days. They were sturdy, and we pretended to be moving men. The next toy that I remembered was a Duncan Yo-Yo. My mother purchased one for me at Kresge’s. The Yo-Yos that I had were the Butterfly and the Imperial. My favorite one was called The Tournament. It was black and covered with tiny traces of gold glitter. I am still looking for that one to this day.
Next, I will talk about board games that I had as Christmas presents. The first one was called Ker-Plunk. The game was from the Ideal Toy Company. The commercials that aired on television were classics. I enjoyed the board games that consisted of marbles. My brothers and I loved that game, and we played it for a long time. Another game that I wanted as a child was Toss Across. I didn’t get that one, but I wasn’t disappointed. I remembered the classic television commercial when the family was playing, and their dog picked up a beanbag with his mouth and dropped it in of the slots. Other games I had were Trouble, Headache, Perfection, and Superfection. Trouble was my favorite one. The most notable feature of Trouble is the “Pop-O-Matic” die container. The device had a plastic hemisphere containing the die, placed over a flexible sheet. Players roll it by pressing down quickly on the bubble, which flexes the sheet and causes it to tumble upon its rebound. The Pop-O-Matic container produces a popping sound when it is used and prevents the die from being lost (and players from cheating by improper rolling). The Headache game had the same feature.
There were other board games that I had as a child. The games were Monopoly, Clue, Parcheesi, and the Game of Life. As I got older, I lost interest in playing board games. When I graduated high school, I got into video games. My family bought the Atari Video Computer System Games. They were a lot of fun and, I played video games all the time at the Wizard of Games Video Arcade at Ford City Shopping Center in Chicago in the 1980s. I loved the toys that I had as a child at Christmas. Like most children, once you played them for a short time, you lose interest very quickly. If you a favorite Christmas toy memory, please comment here or on my social media accounts. Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.