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Monday, June 6, 2011

Toys: pass them on, not to a landfill

bought 1969-1978
A question
is on my mind, but first let me tell you a story.

Saving toys
I have been an inveterate saver of my children's toys. Over the years self-serving advice-givers have tried to "help" me:

"Why are you saving all those things? Your children are all in their 20s (or 30s). They won't want these!  They will want new things when they have children."

"Hmmm, maybe you are right. I could put them in a yard sale or give them away....sigh..."

"My grandchildren would love those! Since you are getting rid of them, I will take them."

LOLOLOL So it has gone for over thirty years. But, I never gave in to that kind of talk.

The toys in the picture were bought for my son (born in 1968) over the course of  about nine years. I am sure that many were lost and many were destroyed by the vacuum or the mower. There's no telling now many were lost in motels, at his grandmother's house, in stores, at school, or where ever. No, he was not supposed to take toys to school said the teacher. So, I had to frisk him before school....seriously! I did a pat down and search of books and bags, even the lunch I had just handed him.

Actually, I was not sure what had happened to these and a bucket of tiny cars, bought during the same period. Maybe some of these were bought for the girls, but none were bought later than 1978. Ex bf brought them to me when I asked what else was in the closet upstairs.  I washed and sent the cars to my son over two years ago. The same trip awaits the cowboys and animals.
Bucket for the animals
This bucket was bought in 1969 and played with almost continuously for nine years, maybe more. Notice, not torn up. It was not used to sit or stand on or to carry anything else. Once the animals were dumped (is there any other way to do it?), the bucket was put back on the low shelf.  At first, I put the bucket back, but I instructed him and the girls how to store the bucket. No, not a mean

Washing toys
Today, I put the animals in a lingerie bag and dunked them up and down and all around in a gallon bowl of Dawn and warm water. Then, I picked the animals and people from the lingerie bag and put them on a towel in my lap. That went outdoors to dry in the sun. Nope, not happening after I saw the first fly try to land on one. So, they will dry in the car on the dash for a bit, in the sun but not long enough to Never put these animals and people in a lingerie bag because tiny feet, horns, legs, guns and knives get caught! I have never sent him a toy that was not washed first, but this picking them one by one from the sides of the mesh bag was a trial!

Now, for the question:
Why are people so quick to toss old, still-serviceable toys? Most things go in the trash. Remember, that is landfill space. Some go in yard sales with unsold toys sent to street trash. Even if you donate a toy, likely it will be landfill filling if one little thing is wrong with it. Or, if it gets broken or pieces separated in transit.

I was going to donate a tiny, toy vacuum that was missing the front part where popping balls go. The woman at the the women's shelter said most women there wanted new toys for their children so they would just throw it away for me. So, I removed the little vacuum cleaner from the donations and set it in the gutter in front of my house, removing it on garbage day to save it. One day about two weeks later, a man in a nice truck stopped and got it. I don't know if he was going to resell it or let a grandchild play with it. Either way, I was happy with its destination.

Lack of space could be one good reason people do not keep children's toys. Lack of space has never been a problem for me. That has not led to hoarding because you will notice there are no broken toys. Okay, so hoarders save broken and unbroken things. Nothing had to be piled willy-nilly, stacked, or stored anywhere but in their proper place in the emptyish rooms. Eventually, I did consolidate toys into one room and used the other for fabric storage, but still there was room where toys resided.

Lack of interest is another valid reason. If you just don't care whether your grandchildren play with their parent's toys, okay.  But, I cared and have sent toys off to my children as they had children.

Do you remember reading about my dilemma here? (halfway down the post) I wanted to buy a pack of farm animals with a chicken. These little animals were upstairs all the time! No, they were not hidden under mounds of anything. They were on a shelf in a little bucket that was bought in 1970, specifically for the animals, fences, and people. I just had not been up there in about three years and ex bf said he did not see them....sigh. Well, he did see the bucket last week.

I won't try to show you the details on the animal. But, the goat has a little bell around its neck, a bell on a collar, both still visible. The collar is molded onto the animal shape and painted; the plastic, minuscule, molded bell is separate from the animal, hanging by some magic molded plastic for 40 years. The hippopotamus is wrinkled, deep wrinkles, not almost smooth like the newer versions. It is very easy to see the quality of the older animals is higher. These old plastic animals and people were only about $1 for a bag.

Still there is no chicken in the bunch. It was probably lost to the vacuum. Remember, a chicken was what I wanted so badly.

Last Christmas I could have saved $10 since I bought a set for each child! I just wanted the children to have this type toy. Now, there will definitely be enough for both children.

One of my friends who is actually between my two older children in age said his mother has saved ALL his toys in their attic that is climate controlled like the rest of the house. He is an antique dealer. Maybe these old toys will be worth a fortune by the time he is an old man. In the meantime, they are organized, and out of the way. He is an only child.

Yes, I am sentimental. However, if a child says he or she does not want something I have saved, I am practical and sell it. Never ask a teen. Ask the adult that teen will later become. I was a sentimental teen. Most aren't.

Rats! These will not fit in one plastic, gallon bag. There goes two bags!

If you have a little chicken about 1/4 to 1/2 inch high that you are discarding, I will pay postage if you will send it. Or, I can pay for it and postage.

Your turn
Have you ever saved toys for over thirty years? Actually, the oldest toy from any child is forty-three years old. Would you see yourself as a hoarder? Would others?  Does it please you to see your children play with your toys? If you are a grandparent, do you have toys your children played with stashed away for grandchildren?


  1. Well, as I stated in my first post, I'm only 24 (and a 1/2!).. so my toys aren't that old. But I've saved a few special things throughout the years. My teddy bear Buddy that I got when I was born, missing eyeball and all. My Barbies , Polly Pockets, Little Golden books, and a few VHS movies (black and white cartoons and ones most people have never heard of, i.e. Sylvanian Families). No one gets any use out of them NOW, but they bring back a lot of good memories. They're not goin' anywhere!

  2. tlc,
    You are growing your own antiques--not that you are going to sell them! If they bring back good memories, then you are getting use out of them right now. Good for you for not tossing them out.

  3. My children are teens but yes, I am saving their toys. Recently, I asked my son if I should consider giving away his box of knights and horses he said, "no way! that's a piece of my childhood!" lol I did not expect that from a 17year old boy.

    I don't have any toys from my childhood, sadly. I do have a couple of my father's toys that my children played with and I have put away for grands. They are over 50 years old.

    As a professional organizer who works with hoarders, I can say absolutely that saving toys does NOT make one a hoarder.

    (just found your it!)

  4. I am so sorry you don't have toys from your childhood. It is wonderful your son sees the connection with his toys to his life. I have known people who said they were so happy their mothers saved toys that they told her to give away. I have a teddy bear that is 58-yrs-old that was mine and was played with by my son.I love the toys!

    Did you see my "shelf of shame" post?

    Yes, I am so sick of one of my friends trying to label me as a hoarder. The moment she is through with something, she throws it out. She says she will buy another one next month if she needs it. I asked exbf who has known me for about 5 years, he said I was not.

    Glad you like my space and will visit often. Welcome.

  5. I also don't have toys from my childhood but I just had an arguement with the family since we are packing for the move. They wanted to toss the Barbies, Barbie clothes, Legos, Spiderman paraphernalia, etc. No way!

  6. LindaM, Ha, it looks like those toys are yours now! Good for you.

  7. LOL...Okay, I just read your "shelf of shame" posts. If that shelf is shameful you are definitely not a hoarder. I would love to take your friend to work with me sometime. ;)

  8. Lorie, Thanks for reading them. No, not a hoarder by any means! She has things to say that are not helpful at all about all aspects of my life. You know the kind. But, she is a good friend, really!

  9. I think that's so nice, you keeping all those toys.
    We moved around a lot but kept a basket of leggos and toy cars. They ended up being played with by our grandchildren, and they enjoyed them.
    I do wish I'd kept more on reflection though :D)

  10. Susan, It is always easy to see what we should have done! We moved lots, too. But, this house was large enough that it was easy to be sentimental. My mother just put things in the attic. I don't have to. I hope you took pictures of the grandchildren playing with your children's toys.


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