I loved those play sets by the Marx Toy Co.! I didn’t have any of these carry-all cases, but I did have the Cape Kennedy play set when it was still called Cape Canaveral: and boy, those spring-powered rockets! You could actually put a dent in your ceiling. Like, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” But the threat was obvious even to us kids, and nobody shot his eye out with a Nike missile.
The commercial also shows Fort Apache, Noble Knights, and Boot Camp play sets. My favorite, not shown, was Dinosaurs and Cave Men.
These toys set my imagination on fire. For a while there I wanted to be a toy maker when I grew up, so I could design some really far-out play sets. But in the meantime I rejoiced in setting up the little plastic figurines and turning the set-up into a story.
Have they quite succeeded, yet, in putting the imagination into deep freeze? Would kids even know what to do with a play set anymore?
I remain hopeful: just give them time, and they’ll figure it out. Human nature as God created it, good and bad, will not be denied forever.
P.S.–Where did my video go? Can any of you see it?
Just say the name out loud: “Dead Man’s Cave.” If you’re twelve years old or so, there’s potent magic in that name.
I had heard of Dead Man’s Cave years and years before I ever saw it. Kids spoke of it in hushed whispers. Older kids had been there, and were kind of vague in their descriptions of its wonders. That only served to feed my imagination all the more. Was the cave a hideout for outlaws? Or a completely crazed murderer? I dared conjecture even farther: prehistoric animals. That’s what you’d find there, if you went in deep enough. A saber-toothed tiger, at least.
It wasn’t until I was 14 years old that I actually laid eyes on Dead Man’s Cave. And went inside. Yes, my friends and I went in!
Well, why not? I mean, it wasn’t exactly Carlsbad Caverns, was it? All thoughts of Tom Sawyer trying to elude Injun Joe among the stalactites and stalagmites evaporated from my mind.
Dead Man’s Cave turned out to be an unused, brick-lined culvert that ran under a railroad embankment. The other end was blocked by rubble, so it wasn’t very deep. Its archaeology featured beer bottles, soda cans, cigarette butts, and not very original graffiti. No sign of a dead man anywhere.
But I dare say one is all the better for having had a Dead Man’s Cave in one’s life–especially if you spend some time looking for it and never quite find it.
Because, in all fairness, how could it have ever lived up to your imagination?