Oct 1, 2010

Am I wrong when I think that we were better off not having a Toys ’r’ Us just around the corner?

R.G. Pelley, GA Class of 1962



Pat Hiscock’s childhood adventures with “toys we made” are continued here: …The fun kids had is captured in Pat’s vivid memory and she shared it with us recently. Enjoy…Because next time we’re getting serious and talking about the railway…’Newfie’ style…So be ready to crawl aboard…Your memories are wanted here on that topic as well. Thanks in advance. Below is the email address of where to send those memories…

Faye Raynard, GA Class of 1959


So now here is the rest of Pat’s memories on Childhood toys…and things we made ourselves


 One source of our paper doll phase came in each monthly edition of McCalls Magazine - - her name was Betsy McCall.  We utilized each doll and each “wardrobe” that came with her.  We also made and designed our own clothes for her.  Turquoise and Magenta were the most popular coloured crayons.


We girls made our own stilts and crushed our own carnation milk cans and took the flack when our parents saw what we were doing to our leather shoes with those cans.

We again raised the ire of our parents when they found that we played in old abandoned buildings and deserted ammunition bunkers.  We of course, thought that we were invincible in these edifices - they only saw the dangers.

We hiked or rode bike to Twin Ponds, Gander Lake, Deadman’s Pond - always finding something to do or something to build such as a bridge or easy passageway over a stream. 

We made our own kites from saved balls of doweling, string, glue, brown paper and brown paper bags taken apart and flattened.

When we became Girl Guides, we graduated to other skills.  Camping, hiking, cooking, hygienic, and other “tools” had to be made or created for ease of use and carrying to and from campsites.  Camp games and other fun activities had to be devised or games we played at home were adapted for outdoor use.  We made our own semaphore flags so that we could send messages to one another during our play/sleuthing endeavours

We devised badges and rule books for our Stealthy Prowlers Club.  Two of Marcie Bursey’s Aunts in Ontario made the badges for us from ribbon, bells, and stickers.

We made homemade clay to make jewelry, we were into scrap booking collecting stuff on our favourite movie stars,  Princess/Queen Elizabeth, Elvis. 

We experimented making our own clothes - dirndl skirts at the time.  Our attempts at aprons, pajamas and blouses were passable.

We learned to play the usual childhood games and card games with varying rule changes to suit the mood of the day.  A lot of these games were played in the apartment building stairwells on rainy days.

We read and read some more…..

Under the table or In the Box

(no, not because we were inebriated)

Rainy day play would often find us draping a blanket over the kitchen or dining room table or magically finding (talking one of the local merchants into giving us one (usually Goodyear Humber Stores and later Eatons) of their large packing boxes.

Whatever our choice they provided hours of fun playing with our dolls (I still have my Barbara Ann Scott Doll and a baby doll with a bisque head and straw stuffed body. Said doll had one of it's bisque "curls" raised into a loop to hold the ribbon and as one of the old songs we used to sing says, "it was tied up in a bow").

The boxes brought out our architectural side as we deftly took our crayons or scrounged up paint from the DOT painters to draw our doors, windows with curtains, etc., in the cardboard box abode. We also drew our cupboards, sink etc., on the inside of the box.

I remember one time making a teepee out of brown packing paper, glue, and alder trees. However that was when I was a Brownie Leader with the Girl Guides of Canada and the Brownies were earning their native Lore Badge at a Brownie Pack Holiday. Today, I believe that they call it a Residential Camp. In the days of yore, Brownies were not permitted to sleep under canvas.

Being a Girl Guide Leader has afforded me the opportunity to play as a child and with children way past my childhood days.

Oh yes, the Hay Loft in a small barn our Mom's father owned was a treasure valued to its utmost. Whether we were jumping from the loft into the freshly mown hay or just hanging out around and on top of that "very itchy" hay, we were thrilled. This was a source of fun and games not accessible to many Ganderites.

Undoubtedly, all of us, at one time or another, were able to lollygag around fish stages, barns, root cellars, caves, etc., when visiting grandparents or other family members not "living on the Gander."

There was no end to the fun we had playing in the snow or constructing and skating on home made ice surfaces. We would get so cold and wet, while suffering the agony of "numb" fingers and feet that until we finally had brains enough to take ourselves home. Once inside the safety and warmth, we peeled off the wet clothing and headed straight for the comfort of the radiator (or wood/oil stove if we were visiting our grandparents). Once the shaking and "tingling" in our fingers and toes ceased, there was hot chocolate and Tip Top biscuits with Velveeta Cheese or, our all time favourite . . . Campbell's Tomato Soup with toast to dip!!

Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, HMA Class of 1956


OK folks that’s it for this time. Next visit we’ll be talking about the Newfie railway as our means of getting in and out of Gander. Do tell…my email address is:


Pictures welcome too as jpg attachments. Thnx. Again folks for making all of this happen.