Published In The Great North Arrow, February 2021: For Your Added Enjoyment / Boys And Their Toys

- a message from jim Young

For the most part, for personal reasons, I have made it a habit not to submit more than one article each month to the Great North Arrow. (There have been a couple of exceptions to this rule where circumstances have warranted it.)


However I am breaking my self imposed rule for this edition that is only available online due to the pandemic.


I remember years ago when 8-tracks were becoming popular, reading an article about Rod Stewart. At the time vinyl records were often filled with “extras” and packaged with liner notes that included biographies, lyrics to the songs, background on the making of the record or photographs of the band.


Sometimes LPs were packaged in Gatefold Covers (a folded double cover). None of this packaging was available during production of 8-tracks. Rod Stewart felt his fans that purchased his albums on 8-tracks were being cheated so, to make up for it, he included an extra song to be included on the 8-track version of his albums that was not available on the vinyl.


So, in that spirit, even though the digital copy of the Great North Arrow does include everything available in the hard copy version, as a gesture of gratitude to the readers who prefer the hard copy for whatever reasons they may have, I have included some extra material for your reading pleasure.


Boys And Their Toys

- jim Young


“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” - George Bernard Shaw.


I don’t really subscribe to the adage “The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys,”  because many of the toys I have are not expensive at all. They are just toys.



Sure, I have some more traditional expensive toys like our snowblower or riding lawn mower but the toys that bring me the most pleasure are typical childhood toys.


I will soon be approaching my 8th decade this time around on earth and I still like toys of all kinds and costs. At Christmas my grandchildren often still give me a set of Lego. (Of course that is not to suggest that Lego is cheap these days.) But they are just as fun as they’ve ever been.


When I visit Trash & Treasures, the treasures I often seek out are among the box of toys in the children’s section. 


My latest gem from Trash & Treasures was a “Loon Tune”. (Click the link to see the Loon Tune.) It’s a small round disc attached with some string to two wooden handles. When you wind it up and pull the handles apart, the wind blowing through the strategically drilled holes in the sides of the disc will imitate the call of the loon.


I immediately recognized it sitting there in the toy box because one of my classmates, Heather Reid brought hers into school one day in Grade 5. That was almost 60 years ago and I finally fulfilled a lifelong desire to have one of my own.


Some of my toys are more expensive than others but it is more often by happenstance than design. My father’s “American Flyer” Electric Train for example may be considered valuable, but I inherited it many years ago when it was not.


My ViewMaster collection has some rare old items that are considered collectibles but I also like to buy the newer, cheaper ones at garage sales to complement the set. When I came home from a garage sale one Saturday afternoon with my latest acquisition of a ViewMaster that I had picked up for 25 cents, My Shirley asked me, “How many of those do you need?”


I didn’t really understand the question and simply replied with, “All of them.”


Girls don’t understand a boy’s fascination with toys. They may have a few stuffed animals on the bed or a favourite doll from their childhood, but that’s about it. They don’t even play with them. And girls are all too quick to “pooh-pooh” their boyfriend’s or husband’s obsession with toys. This happens because girls grow up much more quickly than boys do. I feel sorry for them.


I grew up in a household with five sisters. Two were older and three were younger.


I remember one Christmas morning when I was about twelve. I had opened most of my presents when I paused to look around the room to see what neat stuff my sisters were getting from Santa. I was surrounded by a pile of cool toys like ViewMaster Reels, Cowboy Guns, Dinky Toys and more.


I looked upon my sisters in horror as I saw Kathy, Leah and Lennie opening the worst Christmas Present any boy could ever imagine getting for Christmas - clothes. But when I looked at their faces, I discovered all of them were smiling and laughing. Frankly I was unable to comprehend what I was witnessing. Could they actually LIKE getting clothes for Christmas? I was never so happy to be a boy.


Then I looked over to see my two youngest sisters, Gina and Lori, sitting at the feet of my parents. They were just toddlers and thankfully - like me - they, at least, were getting toys. I just shook my head and thought "Enjoy it, girls - you don't have much time." 


It was then that I decided, like Peter Pan, I would never grow up. There just didn’t seem to be any real benefit.


Nature had other plans in mind for me however and I was forced to at least grow old if not up. To this day, however, I stick to this philosophy, “Just because you get old doesn’t mean you have to be mature.” - anon.


I have a cousin about my age that shares this outlook on life. Steve lives on the West Coast now so although we can’t be together at Christmas as we did when we were young boys, we still bond all these many years later and make a point to enjoy listening to this very special song every Christmas Eve. 


Doris Day - Toyland (Click the link to play the song.)


Steve and I take great care to never cross those borders.


- 30 -


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