A while ago, Etsy admin asked the readers to tell about their favorite toys. It was fun to remember; this is what I wrote.
clothespins! I pretended them to be a pack of wolves and invented
stories about them. I had about 20 wolves in the pack, and each one was different -
I could tell one from another by the shade of wood, speckles and
stains and such. I remember there was a she-wolf, light beige in color -
almost white - she was young and beautiful. And then there was a pack
leader who was a veteran of many fights; he was dark brown and covered
with scars. And of course there was a romance, and many adventures, and
cute wolf cubs later on. I was about 6 then. Thank you for asking, it
made me smile".
(the clothespins were just like these, offered by vintiquesprims)
It is true that those clothespins gave me hours of happiness. I used to spend summers with my great grandparents in the Crimea; they did not have many toys at home, and I did not bring my own with me. They had many other interesting objects instead.
A tabby colored cat Dina (live).
Two porcelain figurines - a fawn bulldog and a white deer.
A chest full of crocheted doilies, yardage lace, embroidery and samplers; it smelt of camphor balls. I still love the smell. I know everyone hates it, but I love it.
A cupboard with items like cookie cutters, pottery, silverware (could be played with, too, but great grandmother would not allow me) and a very old and thick book entitled "How to Be a Model Housewife", with pictures of new look style dresses, recommendations on how to be a good wife and mother and lots of recipes. A bag full of buttons was also stored in the cupboard.
(and these cookie cutters from vintagewall closely resemble ours. actually I need to buy a vintage set, and this one is very nice, but I will try finding one locally).
...I actually wanted to say something about the clothespins. That is right, we lived in the Soviet Union and were not spoiled with toys. We had some, but not nearly like the choice and quality of toys available to the US kids. However I believe a child does not really need a lot of bright expensive ready-made toys; to a certain extent, they can even be... not harmful, of course, but probably not very useful, because they leave so little to the imagination. A Barbie can only be a Barbie, even if you put a Scarlett O'Hara dress on her. She is too discrete. On the other hand, a very basic doll, with a primitive face (there can be no face at all), can be turned into anything.
I also had several nails as toys (I was 6 or older so it was safe enough and they were not sharp). They were rather large iron nails; found them in great grandfather's toolbox. I would take a piece or rope, cut and untwist it, and make hair for them. Dresses and coats were made of leaves. I played with them in the garden - it was about half a mile from home and I was asked not to take the clothespins there so that not to lose them. Of course, the garden was full of amazing things such as Colorado beetles, tiny frogs, worms etc., but sometimes I just wanted to sit and play with something so I found the nails and they were great. There were a princess (blond), a warrior (read haired) and a wizard (gray haired).
(very nice old nails, even better than mine, by epochco)
Of course there were many more items I played with, which were not intended for play (I am not talking about knives now, although I loved them, too). Clothespins and nails are just very good examples of how a child can play with very simple things which cost nothing.
I know that now there are wooden dolls available which can more or less serve the same purpose. They have very little details, and a child can turn them into anything: this is what I call a good play! (I only need to explain to my girl that she will have clothespins instead of new Liv dolls from now on. But in fact she has a very good imagination and often invents new uses for things which I like very much).
And what were your favorite toys? Please tell me!
(basic wooden peg dolls by LaFiabaRussa)