Letter Re: Toy Making, an Overlooked Traditional Skill

Greetings James and Family,
I just wanted to interject a category of books that should also be included in any home library. The category of ‘make it yourself toys’. I know it sounds odd, however children reared in the earlier industrial era as well as pre-industrial eras learned how to make there own toys. Several years ago I attended a book sale at our local library. They were discarding ‘old’ books on toy making and other crafts among their other titles. These books were published in the 30s through the 50s and were considered ‘out of date’. I picked up on as many as I could find at the time and wished that there were more. The books had ways of making toys from wood and other ‘low tech’ materials, which was part of their era. One book I loved was on making wooden sail boats, at a kid’s level. If one were to take this a step further the skill of making simple, yet fun toys, would be a valuable skill during the long-term grid down situation. Face it, children need to be children. And play is a way to help them cope with a situation gone bad, as well as to occupy them while adults go about the daily chores. Granted they need to learn vital skills and time to play would, in all likelihood, be very limited. But during every pre-modern civilization, playtime for younger children was available, though it disappeared as they became older and could do work on farms, and so forth. If one considers the toy maker’s of folklore as well as real toy makers of old, the skills would help in barter societies. After all there would still be birthdays, Christmas and so on that are woven so much into our society’s structure. These are times when one digresses from the ‘woes of the world’ for a short time and gives a psychological respite. Every era has had toys, even if it was only simple wooden toys. Providing this skill and way of simple diversion for children as well as for adults would be a valuable contribution to the overall health of neighbors and friends. Also akin to this would be the skills for bicycle repair, especially since a bicycle is not only a toy but also a good method of human powered transportation. There was an old fellow in a nearby community, who repaired and rebuilt bicycles for the poorer children and gave the bicycles away to them. This elderly retired fellow became known for his skills and he had more people give him their disused bicycles and his skills breathed new life into them. It is this type of spirit that is the nature of the old-fashioned toy makers. And it is as a noble a skill as any. And will provide a much-needed release for children who will wind up growing up in a very changed world. And after all, what is more innocent than the local toy maker? – The Rabid One