Etch A Sketch, Slinky, Monopoly, and other eternally great toys

Probably the toy I wanted most desperately during my Manse childhood: an Etch A Sketch. And yes, I did get one.

Probably the toy I wanted most desperately during my Manse childhood: an Etch A Sketch. And what a thrill when there was one under the tree one Christmas!

I imagine that by now everyone’s heard that the inventor of the Etch A Sketch, André Cassagnes, has died. You can read all about him and how his invention came about in the New York Times’s obituary here. An excerpt:

“First marketed in 1960, the toy — with its rectangular gray screen, red frame and two white knobs — quickly became one of the brightest stars in the constellation of midcentury childhood amusements that included Lincoln Logs and the Slinky … in 2003, the Toy Industry Association named it one of the hundred best toys of the 20th century. To date, more than 100 million have been sold.”

Ah yes, “midcentury childhood amusements.” That of course brings us to my midcentury childhood at the Manse in Queensborough where, when I was about seven or eight years old, an Etch A Sketch was the toy I coveted above all other things. And one Christmas, it appeared under the tree, which was just the best thing ever.

The latest vintage games to arrive at the Manse: backgammon and a very old Monopoly set.

The latest vintage games to arrive at the Manse: backgammon and a very old Monopoly set.

Our period version of Twister, "the game that ties you up in knots."

Our period version of Twister, “the game that ties you up in knots.”

For the sake of nostalgia and my own amusement, I have been collecting some other toys and games that date to my midcentury childhood at the Manse, and the place is becoming rather well-stocked with them. Aside from some vintage jigsaw puzzles, there is a game of Pit, Ker-Plunk, Clue, a Peter Rabbit variation on Snakes and Ladders, one called Rack-O that I bought at a yard sale but don’t know anything about, and a Chinese checkers board that still resides in Montreal but will soon enough make its way to Queensborough. And as of today, when Raymond arrived at the Manse, there is backgammon and a very vintage Monopoly game (I think dating from before midcentury), and a Twister game from probably the early 1960s. (Both of the latter were bought at a church bazaar in rural Maine several years ago; apparently, I have been unconsciously preparing for years to stock the Manse with vintage games, even long before the possible purchase of the Manse was on anybody’s radar.)

And of course there’s a Slinky, because, you know, everyone wants a Slinky:

Oh, I should add that there are none of the Lincoln Logs that the New York Times obituary mentioned, but who in Canada had Lincoln Logs anyway? What we need at the Manse is a big tall round box (or was it a tin?) full of Tinkertoys.

And, of course, some little kids to play with all this stuff.

12 thoughts on “Etch A Sketch, Slinky, Monopoly, and other eternally great toys

  1. I ran across a copy of Masterpiece a while back at a garage sale and I’m kicking myself ever since for not buying it. I seem to have vague happy memories of playing it at Gelert with you guys when I was little. Which probably means I played it once and had the masterpiece.

    • That is a good recollection, Valerie! Yes, we pretty much played that Masterpiece game into the ground. Now that you have brought it back to mind, I am going to have to look for a vintage version of that, too, to add to the Manse’s collection. Thank you! (And I hope you did have the masterpiece.)

  2. Catherine, I have my own set of Lincoln Logs from when I was a kid – back them it was a wooden roof – not plastic. I bought my son his own set too. Must be a thing for my family as my grandpa built a log cabin up in the Ottawa Valley so the logs represented a way to make our own cabins. Maybe I should bring them up to Riverbend to sit with all the games we too have up there. They are a great play toy that seems to fit with Thomas the Train – another classic that my kids will speak to in another 30 years.

    • So Lincoln Logs were to be found in Canada! That’s interesting, Jo-Ann. Good information as I try to collect knowledge about old-time (mid-century0 toys and games. I think they would be an excellent addition to you Riverbend collection!

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