Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Terry B. deMille

I had a lot of little cowboy and Indian and horse toys when I was a pre-teen. Each one was different. There were some cowboys and Indians that were permanently bow-legged so you could snap them onto a horse. They'd stand on their own but they stood with their legs spraddled in a wide inverted U. I didn't care, I played with them as though they were normal.

I also ignored scale. I had a plastic Palomino about 10" tall at the ears. He was at least 25 times the size of the other toys, but he was part of the cast anyway. He stood stolidly on all four hooves, legs straight, looking straight ahead. To make him trot, I'd pogo him up and down in short hops. For a gallop I'd rock him, back hooves to front, back to front, along the floor or sofa or coffee table.

The furniture -- mostly in the living room -- was my cliffs and mountains surrounding the canyon of the floor. Little Indians hid behind the tops of the sofa cushions, lying in wait for the unsuspecting settlers (or bandits, or cattlemen) to come trundling into the canyon.

The good guy was a spraddle-legged cowboy with his right arm extended forward holding a six-shooter, and he always rode the white trotting pony. There was another identical pony, except he was brown, and the Indian chief always rode him. I don't think I did a lot of battle scenes -- often the cowboys and Indians were all mixed up together in the good guys' and bad guys' camps. I spent many hours Saturday mornings playing with this assortment.

When I got a small package of Army green G.I.'s, they were just folded into the mix. Sometimes I played G.I.'s and Japs (I was born 5 years after the end of WWII), and then the Western figures got assigned new roles.

Then I got a Barbie doll (TM) and she fit pretty well on the Palomino -- I ignored that her legs stuck straight out in front of her as she perched on the saddle.

Many hours. I wish I could remember some of my scenarios, but they just "passed through" me, as Goldberg says, just flowed through my child's imagination and were forgotten, like water in a stream.

I wonder where all those toys are now. Probably in a landfill. Or maybe -- and I hope this -- they got sent to Goodwill and other children got to play with them. I like that idea. By now they might be in some 1960's buff's collection. That'd be great -- they'd be ready for retirement by now.

But I bet they'd like to be on display together, maybe in a basement rec room, watching their owner's busy life. Maybe someday a grandchild will come along and say, "Grandpa, can I play with those?"

I hope he says Yes.

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