Christmas 1958

Here I excitedly walk to the living room to inspect my loot. Dad looks just awakened and haggard - as dads usually do on the morning of December 25th. Mom and the Brownie Hawkeye have taken position on the other side of the tree. I am two and a half and life is exciting and fraught with joy. (And yes, somehow in this photograph's history a big chunk got torn out. I could conceal it in a grayscaled image but not in color.)

I'm posing with the tree and our Telstar tree ornament. I'm sure Mom made me put on the cap for the photos. You can see the exactitude with which she replicated the look of snow piled against the window with the aerosol snow. What looks like a cloudy earth at bottom left is, I suppose, a bowling ball for Dad. But I never remember him bowling. What's more, I don't recall a bowling ball anywhere in the house. Anything heavy and round would have interested me; I would have probably wanted to crush ants with it. Perhaps it was kept in a bag in a closet.

A boy and his toys... That wooden floor in my bedroom needed refinishing. I'm sure nothing I ever did in that room ever helped maintain its looks.

I'm playing with some of my toys. This is a Japanese toy dog that probably walks and barks by command of that module I'm holding in my hand, which also held the cheap, leaky Japanese batteries. I used to get battery acid on my hands all the time and thought nothing of it. I believe I also got that desk shown in the background this Christmas... it looks fairly new. I remember this desk well. When I grew a little I used to be able to brace my knees to the underside of the desk and scoot around on the floor. (Practice for something I'd also do as a high schooler.) Drawing a rocketship control panel on the chalkboard completed the illusion. Toy manufacturers call this sort of thing "unexpected play patterns."

The young executive! Note the kiddie phonograph with the tartan pattern in the lid. Oddly enough I have no memories of this at all. I guess there's a limit to what I can recall when I was only two. I would get a much more memorable upgrade in 1961.

Here I am with an impressive boxed metal truck set. You know what? I don't recall it at all, which tells you something about how much I probably played with it. What a pity - it looks expensive. That circular thing just below my ear is the little pompom at the end of the stocking cap. I was about to Photoshop it away, thinking it was a photographic flaw, before I realized what it was. I bet that cap irritated me. Never was a hat person, let alone a stocking cap with a pompom at the end person.

Inexplicably, that stocking cap pompom is still perched on my shoulder. Mom must have placed it there for the shot. I was way too kinetic for such a thing to stay there long.

I recall that tank very well because I eventually tore it apart. (More unexpected play patterns.) It was metal, and assembled with tabs and slots. One of the tabs sliced into my right arm, causing a crescent moon shaped cut. I still have the scar. But I gained insights of not only 1950s Japanese metal toy manufacture, but of what the motor looked like, how it was connected to the battery, etc. Well worth it - a most instructional toy!

Perhaps the fact that the Structo "Live Action" truck set was safe (see ad copy on box) made it less interesting to me.

That Christmas outfit Mom procured included footed bottoms - another thing I was never a fan of. But even at age two I understood the seasonal quid pro quo: I wear your clothes and you give me toys.

Note: These photos were originally shot in color, but the dyes in the prints faded to a horrible orange. I finally got a version of Photoshop that I could figure out how to use to correct the hues.

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