To Our “The Philosophy & Rewards Of Survival” Section
Toys For A Cashless Christmas
©1976 By Kurt Saxon
From The Survivor Volume I(A historical note: All the prices
quoted in this editorial are in “1976” dollars)
Homemade toys, as opposed to plastic junk, will promote a basic sense of values in your child. To lay the groundwork for this sense of values, you can start by putting Santa Claus back into Christmas.
Christmas used to be the time to give the kids their supply of toys for the year. Such toys were made to last; sturdy, usually handmade and highly individualized. They were often made by the parents, carpenters and other tradesmen who would make toys for sale around Christmas.
Children of the last century loved such toys. Many have been passed down to collectors today after having been played with by generations of your elders when they were children. Those handcrafted toys were easily credited to the workmanship of Santa and his helpers.
In the last few decades, toys have become so commercial that you would be
hard-put to find a child who actually believes that Santa made them. They are
advertised on TV every day, all year, with the manufacturer’s name written and
spoken in every commercial. And before Christmas, the stores hire a lot of
winos to impersonate Santa Claus, who would never have allowed his troops to
turn out such rubbish.
With toys being promoted all year round, there’s really no season for them any
more. So Christmas toys are made to be all used up during the holiday season.
It’s a kind of orgiastic sacrifice to the commercial toy companies. The toys
are not made to last for more than a few days and they don’t. Most of them are
plastic with battery-driven insides. Only on rare occasions does such a toy
last long enough to renew its batteries.
Such toys, apart from the thrillingly dramatized TV commercials, are boring.
They leave nothing to the imagination. Sure a little girl’s dolls now urinate,
defecate, throw-up and go into hysterics. But so does the little girl. So how
can she fit the disgustingly real doll into her beautiful fantasies? After
all, a cornhusk doll can be a princess, but a Betsy Wetsy doll is just a slob.
Concerning the Six Million Dollar Man, Mr. Spock and other bendable, super
hero dolls for boys. Well, they come apart a lot faster than the writers of TV
commercials would have you believe. So such toys are usually broken within a
week, mainly due to carelessness caused by sheer boredom.
The same goes for the elaborate plastic battleships, missiles, helicopters,
Kids are fascinated by these things. There’s no denying that. They have also
been led to expect them and if they do not get them they are going to scream
I know I did the first time I did not get a pile of popular toys for
Christmas. Around Christmas of 1941 Dad was laid off and his employer brought
a Christmas basket with a ham and such. Mom gave me a 10 cent onion bag of
odd-sized colored blocks and a 10 cent modeling clay set.
I naturally raged and stormed, but when I settled down that afternoon, I found
them to be more fun than anything I had gotten the last Christmas. Kids love
to get elaborate toys, but they only really play with simple toys. The clay
lasted for months and I kept and played with those blocks for years.
You might explain to your kids that this year their toys will come from Santa.
They will not be the mass produced garbage the poor kids on the block get.
They will be fun toys that are made especially for them and no one else will
have toys like them.
For about $10.00 you can get from the dime store a scroll saw, small hand saw,
small hammer, nails, hobby paints and whatever else you need. When you have
finished making all the toys, you can wrap the tools as a gift for one of the
You can find scrap wood down any alley and thin, orange crate wood behind any
supermarket, free for the taking.
With this, you can make blocks, forts, boats, a doll house and furniture,
animals, etc. Any mother can make scrap dolls which are much cuddlier and
friendlier than any Barbie doll or whimpering clicking robot.
Don’t worry about your children’s acceptance of homemade toys. Get the tools,
collect the odds and ends of scrap wood, cloth, etc., and start work on some
of the stuff here.
Your first project might be blocks. Just cut some scrap lumber into several
dozen odd-sized squares, triangles, etc., sand off the splinters and paint the
blocks. Collect different sized tin cans, wash and paint them. Gather up
thread spools. They are great for wheels, tops, shooting toys, etc.
In THE SURVIVOR Volume I is the crossbow, arrow sling and catapult on page 44.
Page 41 has a good whistle. On page 62 is a level for the tool kit. Also for
the tool kit, page 103, figure 840, you can make a bow drill just like the
Indians used to drill holes in wampum. Also on page 100 is a keen blowgun. The
flutter ring on page 116 would be worked on every visitor to your home for
If you are at all handy, the steamboat on page 108 would make your boy the
envy of all his friends. And the paddleboat on this page would get your kids
in the tub at the drop of a hat.
Then there are boomerangs on page 19 and 113. For the little weight lifter,
there is an exercise outfit on page 22 and dumbbells on page 155. The
emergency magnifying glass on page 153, along with a few flies, seeds, salt
and other specimens will help keep a little scientist fascinated for hours.
The lensless microscope in this issue can be made using cellophane instead of
celluloid or mica, both hard to get these days. If you have some glass tubing
you can make a permanent microscope for nothing, (page 157) pretty much like
the first microscopes ever made.
On page 154 there is a spool bow. A set of these, painted different colors,
could make your child a real success among his friends.
So a few spare evenings making your childrens’ toys will also do a lot for
you. It will save you a lot of money, best spent on necessities. It will
improve skills, although most of these toys can be made by an amateur who has
never made anything before.
There is also the pride you will see in the eyes of your children. Those old
enough to know you actually made their toys, will really appreciate you. Kids
are so used to parents who only buy things, that in their eyes you will be a
creative genius who really loves them. You will be special and a super parent
in the eyes of the neighborhood kids.
So get your scrap and tools and paints together and set aside a few evenings
to use them. After the initial disappointment of not getting the expected
breakables has passed, your kids will settle down to really playing with real