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But I was proud to be Mother to Betsy Wetsy, one of the first drink and wet dolls, who was not quite so costly as the others, and my grandparents gave me Gloria, a large doll that didn’t talk, cry real tears, or dance the jig, but whom I loved dearly, just as much as Linus loves his blue blanket.
In Parts 1 and 2, Helen and I discussed her childhood and toys of the 1910’s and 1920’s. Now I’m going to spin the top in a different direction by drawing on a few of Helen’s poignant tales, which demonstrate that a houseful of toys, though a blissful proposition for kids of any decade, is not necessarily a prerequisite for a happy childhood.
I was amazed. “Wow! You got your quarter’s worth.”
Helen smiled wistfully. “And that was really something.”
It surely was for a young girl in Wilkinsburg who had few toys to call her own but was blessed with an extended family that she was proud to call her own. Which reaffirms the premise that, whether 1914 or 1964, or even 2014, whether toys or no toys, a loving family life is the key to a happy childhood—a childhood that one can look back on with affection even 100 years later.
“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.” —Sam Levenson, American humorist and writer
Read more on toys of the 1920’s at the People History website. Did you have a favorite toy that was all the more special because it was a gift from Grandma and Grandpa?
Out of respect for their privacy, I have changed the names of those mentioned during the interview.
The fourth installment of my interview with Helen addresses the toys of her preteen years circa 1925 and 1926, and it chronicles her teenage years, which were assailed by the Great Depression.
Karen Gennari is the author of The Crab Hollow Chronicles, a fictitious memoir based on her experiences growing up in a neighborhood full of boys in 1961/62. It also explores the merits and challenges of life in a Catholic family of seven. The paperback and e-book can be purchased online at eLectio Publishing, Amazon, or Barnesandnoble.com.