Aug 4, 2010

Meanwhile, here’s the answer to the mystery photos posted last time. Correct answer was submitted by David Naish, GA Class of 1960.

The subject in both of these photos is Burnell Tucker, GA Class of  1951

As you know Burnell went on to stardom in many well known Hollywood movies…

Answer: First one is Del Goran and the second one is Wyron Serper.

Thanks for Bob McKinnon for submitting these photos, SJ Class of 1961.


This time I posted the following and asked for recollections and here is a sampling of what was received. There will be more next time, so please feel free to add your recollections of  ‘Toys we made ourselves’ and send along your special memory to Faye…


Whenever I think about all of the things that our kids and grandkids have to play with, I think back to some of the fun stuff that we made and enjoyed with our friends.

Who can recall watching the older boys walking on homemade stilts? I never mastered it, but admired those  who could.

And of course there were the tin cans and the string between them that we used as “walkie-talkies”. Or how about kite-making? Did any of you have success at making one and actually seeing it fly?

Did anyone make those simple homemade paper dolls cut out of old catalogs. Cut the head and shoulders out of one part of the catalog and the dresses and outfits out with tabs at the shoulders. We would play with those for hours.

I knew some kids who even built their own bobsleds with a long plank running between the two smaller wooden sleds. The guy on front would steer and those things would tear down an icy street that would be closed down evenings.  Everyone turned out on a good sledding party in the little fishing village where I lived in N.S.

So what other things did you all ‘manufacture’ that amused you and your friends for hours? 

I am thinking of some of the craziest stuff. Like tin cans that we squashed onto our feet and strung a long string to them that we held onto and walked all around with a clopping sound of horses.  And what little boy didn't make a slingshot? Did you?  I'm betting that you even made a musical instrument of some kind.  

Some of my girlfriends and I even built our own playhouses. Mine was in the corner of my basement where there was an old work bench. That was the kitchen cupboard and had shelves above where I stored our supplies (to make mud pies). I remember we would forage for empty cans of foodstuff, and even some bone china saucers were given to us by adults who had long ago broken the cups.

My father had a grocery store where sometimes things wouldn't sell, like the lemon food coloring WE secured some of that to enhance our 'cooking'. My older cousin built me a sink out of an old basin. So my place, I thought, was pretty functional and professional. Of course my girlfriend had hers in a barn and even had an old grandfather's clock in one corner. I never could match that. But the joy was in creating these wonderful spaces, done all on our own. Long before we discovered boys.”

Faye Lewis Raynard, GA Class of 1959


Amazing to see your email re home made toys.We did all those things you mentioned including swords, Tarazan swings, sling shots. At present Rolla and I have our two grandsons ( 7 and 9 ) staying with us for two weeks until their parents arrive from Ontario. I made something for them that they never had before ----stilts. The boys are getting the hang of it----see pics attached.

Morley Smith, GA Class of 1959




As kids in Gander, we did most of those things. I can remember making kites. When they made tongue and groove lumber at the woodworking shop on the Canadian side, they would throw out the long slats removed to make the grooves. These were perfect for making the cross for a kite. We would then run some string around the ends of the slats to form a diamond shaped frame and then lay the frame on a piece of brown paper. We would cut it to shape, fold the paper over the string, and glue it all the way around. We would then get a big ball of string and some rags for the tail. And yes these creations really did fly.

We made the stilts and walkie talkies you mentioned. We would also make sling shots using a piece of wood cut from a fork in a branch and some inner tube rubber. All these things kept us amused in the absense of modern day high tech toys.

Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of 1961


Fun topic Faye - sure to stir up lots of memories of happy and simpler times when we played outdoors all the time, weren't bored, and didn't have price tags attached to our toys.

Catalogs caused problems in our household.  I liked to cut out the models and play with them as paper dolls.  My mother liked to browse through the big Sears and and Eatons catalogs and order things, especially at Christmas time.  (A side note, I remember tagging along with my brothers to the customs office to pick up orders, coming from the mainland, and having to pay duty on them - before 1949). 

The big winners of the catalogs, however, were my 3 older brothers as they would stuff them down their long socks, wrapped around their shins, and use them as shin pads when they went off to 'the pond' to play hockey and so it was - when catalogs arrived - the boys got new shin pads!

Does anyone remember attaching a card to the spokes of your bike with a clothes pin?  It was much more fun to ride with that clattering noise.  With 4 boys in the family, there were always sling shots made from rubber cut from inner tubes, and also pea shooters made from the hollow part of cattails through which we'd shoot dried peas or bits of wet paper at each other.  Can you imagine the fights?  Sometimes we'd play for hours in a big cardboard box - it would be a fort, a train, a boat or whatever our imagination came up with.  Also remember getting tin cans and stomping our shoe heels into the sides so they stuck - it was great fun clinking around this way.  And of, course, like everyone else, we made our own stilts and used to see who could stay up the longest.  

Lots of fun! 

Gerri Fitzgerald Nimmo, SJ Class of 1959  


Most of us girls during the 1940's were the proud owners of a homemade playhouse of "copy" house. We whiled away many an hour cooped up in one of these with our dolls, miniature dishes, etc.  We also had our child sized tables and chairs.  Wooden crates (like the ones the little green bottles of Coke came in) or biscuit boxes were also utilized as furniture.  When hard put, we used rocks and fallen trees).

We hosted many an afternoon tea on those dishes.  Tea was mostly lemonade or Purity Syrup (known locally as Salvation Army Rum as it was often served at adult functions in lieu of "hard" liquor). Sandwiches, cookies, Hard Bread (hardtack), Sweet Bread (similar in look too hardtack but softer and sweeter [a little easier on the teeth when bitten into] often referred to as Scurchion Bread were available to us.  Or, the old standby of homemade bread slathered with butter and molasses and there was always a difference of opinion as to what went on first, the butter or the molasses. The butter on top held the molasses in place but looked repugnant.  The molasses on top added to the fun as you had to lick the dripping molasses off you fingers - and sometimes almost as far up as your elbow.  Tasty treat for us but non resistible fodder for the Newfoundland Army (flies, “nippers”  and all other biting, winged, insects).

Although as children we pronounced Sweet Bread as "Scurtion Bread."  the correct name is EXCURSION BREAD and generalized in the Newfoundland Dictionary as:

n    a biscuit: dry, sweet biscuit, shaped like "hard tack".

Trouters, hikers, school children would generally have a cake of excursion biscuit in the pocket to eat between meals.

These playhouses were lovingly and sturdily made for us by our fathers and/or grandfathers.  However, we scrounged up any old wood we could find lying around (the Department of Transport Carpenters always gave us what we wanted as well as a few construction tips) and made our own houses or added extensions.  Most important part of, and necessary for, the construction was the tools we stealthily pilfered from our father’s toolboxes. 

Why pilfer? 

Well, the tools parents supplied were old and deemed by them to be safe for our use BUT they did not do the job we wanted.  Many a good saw had to be sharpened or replaced after we rendered the teeth useless.  We had nails of all sizes and many more than the average builder would need due to the fact that our aim with the hammer did not always make contact as it should have.  Even the hammer claws could not remove some of them and we had to resort to crowbars or the destruction of a good sturdy screwdriver to retrieve them from the wood.

Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, GA Class of  1956


As I recall, you were looking for stories about home made toys.

Growing up in Springhill, N.S. in the 40`s and 50`s, all youngsters were turned on by western music. Kids would gather around the radio listening to Hank Snow, Hank Williams, Gene Autry and a host of other western musicians and all the while attempting to imitate their nasal twang - sad eh!

I was no different.

I had an old piece of broom stick which was my guitar and I strummed along and sang to the music. That broom stick was my steady companion for almost a year and then on Christmas morning I woke up to find a guitar under the tree with my name on it.

My uncle had watched me riff on that broom stick long enough so he fashioned me a guitar out of wood and even added elastic bands for strings. I didn`t get many musical sounds out of it but it was a great delight to me.

 My musical tastes have dramatically changed over the years and now range from light classical to blues, jazz and some of that good old rock and roll. I seldom listen to western music any more but that old guitar has a special place in my memories. It was truly a gift of love.

Dave Gilhen, RCAF Gander 1957-58


That’s it for this time folks…oops, I almost forgot…Let’s close with a mystery photo. Can you give me time and place and any details surrounding this photo. Of course we welcome more discussion on the above topic which will be continued next time as well. Let’s think about tree houses? Rafts? Rainy day fun, sleep overs? Haylofts? These are also topics for which Pat Dempsey Hiscock has detailed information, upcoming. So chime in and add your two cents worth. Love to hear from you.


Mystery photo