Sunday, November 09, 2008

Stick Enters Toy Hall Of Fame

A stick was entered into the National Toy Hall of Fame yesterday.


Curators said the stick was a special addition in the spirit of a 2005 inductee, the cardboard box. They praised its all-purpose, no-cost, recreational qualities, noting its ability to serve either as raw material or an appendage transformed in myriad ways by a child's creativity.

"It's very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price -- there aren't any rules or instructions for its use," said Christopher Bensch, the museum's curator of collections. "It can be a Wild West horse, a medieval knight's sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. ... No snowman is complete without a couple of stick arms, and every campfire needs a stick for toasting marshmallows.

"This toy is so fantastic that it's not just for humans anymore. You can find otters, chimps and dogs -- especially dogs -- playing with it."
One other aspect of the stick is its cost. It is free and is abundant. Even poor families had access to sticks.

Well, except for those children from poor families living on the treeless plains of western Kansas in the middle of the Great Depression.

My neighbor, who grew up in western Kansas during this time, where there are few trees and thus, few sticks, told me his family was so poor and destitute that they could not spare any sticks for toys. Sticks were gathered and hoarded, to be used for fires for cooking and heating.

For poor families in western Kansas in the 1930s, he said, sticks were not playtoys. He also noted his family was so poor that if he weren't a boy, he would have had nothing to play with.

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