While we were out walking on Sunday in Bristol, Rhode Island, this jarring tableaux caught my eye. That is my childhood toy. It is in an antique shop.
It's unlikely that it's the actual article, of course; but even that's not impossible. I grew up a few dozen miles from there. But I hadn't thought about that thing for forty years, and then there it was in all its glory.
We didn't have a lot of money. Then again, people with a lot of money didn't have a lot of stuff forty years ago, either. So any toy like that seemed precious. But its precious nature is different than today's. Being precious meant that you used it all the time, not that you kept it in the box and displayed it like people do with so many things now. I put baseball cards that would pay the mortgage on my house into the spokes of my bicycle to make that satisfying brrrrrrt sound. I don't regret it one bit. Since everyone collects everything now, it's all worthless. There's next to nothing in 99% of antiques shops I'd call an antique. It's just stuff old enough to be left on the curb once.
I spent countless hours in the little patch of dirt outside my door, assembling my own cogent universe out of a riot of disparate objects. That thing there, the little enameled mild steel truck, is invested with the anima of a million boisterous pushes and gentle touches.
If I was rich, I'd buy it. If I was really rich, I'd play with it.