The Connal Sisters (and neighbour), circa 1919-20

How Toys Have Changed

Those of you who follow won’t be surprised there’s little in the way of toys in TWLG’s cupboards – computers, cameras, iPads, iPhones and the like notwithstanding.

But I do have some toy shots – of two generations of kids playing ‘horses’.  When I went through the boxes of old photographs and found the pictures of both Papa and his baby brother (circa 1912)  and Ma and her little sister (circa 1919-20) playing, I understood why one of them had captured my cousin and me (we were both sibling-less – though we were expecting the imminent arrival of a brother for S, I think) at our 1956 version of the same game.  Being older, it seems we sought to combine the thrill of the hunt with appropriate attire – it certainly looks as though we’d had an exhilarating day of it!

Thanks to Jake for this trip down memory lane – how toys have changed from rocking horses and brooms to his hyperkinetic robot puppy :)

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52 thoughts on “How Toys Have Changed

    • You too, eh? Do you have old toys stored away that have straddled the generations or did they all disappear in someone’s cleaning up blitzes?

      • Unfortunately all went with the flood in 2001… lost everything in my house… don’t even have a photo of old, no historic photos… but I still have my memories…

        • Unimaginable loss!

          I hope you’re writing some of those memories down to pass on to those adorable grandkids of yours some day :)

    • I think there are a lot of us out there harbouring a little nostalgia for beautiful things like that – photographs and paintings we saw as children must have imbued them with such vivid imaginings … :)

    • What I wanted was a real horse, Roughseas – I’d roam the countryside leaping onto the back of any tethered draft horse I came across, or catchable animal in a paddock near the road …

      Construction games would have been fantastic! Some kids I knew from a contemporary family had a mechano set – and I lusted after that Christmas after Christmas to no avail …

    • Wouldn’t it have been nice? I find it interesting that the ‘game’ persisted, despite the lack of a proper rocking horse – for Mum, in Queensland, just after the first World War, and me, in NSW, not long after the second (and the poverty induced by a flood that wiped out the farm, that year).

  1. Its wonderful to go down memory lane! we had a rocking horse till a few years ago when my kids outgrew it, now I wish I had kept it as its so rare to find these old toys. I had another one , a walker which would beat the attached drum when a child pushed it.

    • And I suppose the drummer has gone, too? What a shame! I think toys like that need to be kept and passed on from one generation to the next – there’s a lovely continuity somehow about treasures like that :)

  2. These are wonderful photos. There was a time when I use to buy photos old photos like these and frame them and hang them in my dining room. Whenever I had guests for dinner we would entertain ourselves making up stories about the people in them. It was great fun.
    Of course as the years have gone by I inherited many such photos from my own relatives and now all the stories are about my family.

    • That’s a fantastic game, Michelle – I like that, imagining lives …

      Now you have photographs of your own family, I hope you all remember the stores – they seemed to fade, for Mum and Dad, for lack of airing, I think – so that oftentimes neither really remembered shots of their childhood, though they did manage to reconstruct a few bare details from other shots, or vague memories of similar timeframes. It was sad.

      • It really makes me sad that I didn’t pay more attention when I was younger when they were telling stories or recounting events. You don’t realize that when you get older you will want all those memories pressed in your head.

        • Same here. I asked Mum, once, to write them down for me because I realised they hadn’t stuck and she said it was too late – the memories were too misty for her to put them in writing, in any coherent way at least. So they’re gone … :)

    • Thanks Tink … it’s amazing how the memory gets triggered by these challenges sometimes, and even more amazing that the photographs still exist – imagine, that one of Dad, back in England was a hundred years ago. :)

    • I doubt it, Bashar! I hardly recognise the toys of this generation, and since the only thing to carry memories from one generation to another is nostalgia this generation’s kids will be taking foreign objects into the next generation! Does that make sense? :)

    • With pictures that old, there was no alternative, Lady Blue! But I agree, memories are like dreams, we colour them to suit ourselves :)

  3. Great photos and memories. I’m going to have to look for a rocking horse for our newest grandson who is 15 months old. That would be a great Christmas present…of course it will be kept at our house, because I’ve always wanted one too :)

    • Of course it will have to stay with the Grandparents, out near the real horses, Angeline, and anyway, you’re the repositories of memories!

    • Mine too, Petchary, after my constant companion, the dog died – somehow exploring around the farm wasn’t so interesting without him to show everything to!

  4. we had a rocking horse just like yours. She was called Annabel and was painted yellow with big black splodges. We spent hours riding her or lying on the rocker part and just rocking backwards and forwards. Sometimes it was a bit of a squash to get all 3 of us on her at the same time. Thanks for taking me back down memory lane

    • What lucky kids you were T2006. I’d have loved a rocking horse, any horse, in fact … So glad you had a bit of a trip!

    • It occurred to me just now that the shot of Papa and the rocking horse was taken 100 years ago – hard to imagine … sweet little chap he was, with his bare knees and nonchalantly crossed ankles!

    • I remember going through the photos – as kids do – with Ma and Papa when I was young but of course, back then the marvel was that they had been as small as me, once.

      Later, when the scenes were like 80 and 90 years old, the sadness was that they couldn’t really remember, but rather would have to reconstruct memories from fragments, and other photos. But it was extraordinary how little details remained as clear as a spotlight – Papa for instance remembered the name of the uncle, in the rocking horse shot – and we looked through all the photos we had, that his sister had sent over before she died, and there wasn’t another picture of him. He was four and a half that summer he and his mother and baby brother travelled from Shanghai to England, the summer he was placed in boarding school – that man must have done something special for his name to remain accessible to the 90+ year old Nevis.

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  7. Ahh, yes! Playing horsies with the brooms. An era when your imagination could fill in huge gaps of time in the day. Love these. I wonder if kids still play imaginary horsies?

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  9. I remember having a hand painted rocking horse too! Have no idea what happened to it. Lovely, lovely post Meredith! (Seems silly to call you TWLG now that I know your name)

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