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Harris Blackwood: Toys found at the 5-and-dime ran on imagination
03182018 TOYS R US
A Toys R Us store seen Jan. 24, 2018, in Wayne, N.J. Toys R Us’s management has told its employees that it will sell or close all of its U.S. stores. The 70-year-old retailer is headed toward shuttering its U.S. operations. - photo by Associated Press

I spend some time these days thinking about my forthcoming grandson. For those of you who don’t know, we are awaiting the arrival of this fine boy in about two months. Go faster, clock, go faster!

Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood
A few weeks ago I was driving by Toys R Us in Buford. I was thinking, now that’s a place I wanna bring that lad. We’ll try on funny hats and play with push toys and life-sized reptiles.

Now comes word that Toys R Us may be gone before that little fella gets here.

They declared bankruptcy last year and now are going to sell off all the stuff. Yes, I know that there are other places that sell toys, but this was a whole gigantic store devoted mostly to toys.

I haven’t had the need to shop there recently; our kids have been out of the toy aisles for years.

I went by about a year ago and bought my wife a train. It was one of those replicas of The Polar Express, including the voice of a conductor that sounds like Tom Hanks. I think it speaks volumes about the cool factor of my bride when I tell you that she wanted a train for Christmas. We set it up around the Christmas tree.

Toy stores and toy departments have always had a place in my heart.

When there was a department store called Rich’s, they had an over-the-top toy department that took up most of the sixth floor. The Pink Pig would fly you over Toyland where you could look down at all the stuff. It also took you by the Great Tree at Rich’s. It was on the bridge between the Store for Homes and the Store for Fashion.

Let me make it very clear, there is no such thing as a Macy’s Pink Pig or a Macy’s Great Tree. They are imposters. I digress.

When we moved to Social Circle, I was allowed to ride my bike to town. My rounds on any given day often included a stop at Bessie and Clarence Morrow’s Five and 10 Cent store.

I loved little cheap toys like Bolo paddles and marbles. We shot marbles during recess at the Social Circle schools. Sometimes we played “keepsies” where you kept the marbles you knocked out of the circle. A kid with a pocket full of marbles rattling around was not someone you wanted to play “keepsies” with. There were all kinds of marbles, such as aggies, cat’s eyes and steelies. Our steelies were usually ball bearings that someone acquired and were usually used as “shooters.”

I also loved those little wooden glider airplanes with a metal clip on the nose. We lived in a two-story house and it was great fun to launch airplanes from the upstairs balcony.

But store-bought toys are not all a boy needs. We would get a beach towel and tie it around our neck and become Batman or Superman. This is where we learned about gravity and how a towel around your neck will not get you airborne.

We also played with trash can lids and used a stick to make a sword.

Having written all this, perhaps my job is to teach this little guy to use his imagination. Yes, it was fun when we spent a quarter or two at the store and had a toy. But we will find fun things to create a new adventure.

Meanwhile, I’m going up stairs and pin a note on all the beach towels: “Not to be used when jumping off the porch.”

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear Sundays.

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