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Toys in the ...Antique Mall

2003-05-29 - 6:09 p.m.

Remember the Little People?

God, I miss them.

Their armless, legless bodies. Their helmet-head hair. The way they holes in their bottoms, so you could stick your fingers into them. (Sorry. There�s no non-perverted way to say it.)

Today, a person at work and I were talking about how the Little People used to be wooden, and then they started being made out of plastic. Apparently, I was born on some sort of cusp, because I think I had both.

I learned today that they�re still being made, but it looks like they sure don�t make �em like they used to.

But what�s really got me thinking about the Little People is that I saw a Little People toy--an exact replica of one I had when I was a wee lassie--in an ANTIQUE STORE this weekend.

That�s right, folks. My playthings now belong behind glass cases, to be appreciated and studied in the same archival light as the Victrola and the wooden tooth.

When I saw it, I stopped in my tracks-- I had no memory of even having one until I saw it in the display case. It was the same kind of feeling you get when you see a picture of yourself from kindergarten that someone else has of you--one you didn�t even know existed, because it�s not in the dog-eared album at home with all the pictures you have memorized.

I always knew I had a Little People House, but until I saw it in the glass case, I�d completely forgotten I�d ever had the Little People Ferris Wheel. And there it was, priced at 30 dollars.

When I looked it over, I was almost more shocked by seeing--and remembering-- the built-in Little People man who came along with the Ferris Wheel. The wheel has four or five little bucket seats you can place the rest of your Little People in--the ones that are sold separately. But there on the ground, cranking the Wheel for all eternity, is a permanently-attached Little People man with a green ball cap placed backward on his head, and red marks--pimples? switchblade scars?-- on his face. That Little People Ferris Wheel came with its very own ZIT-FACED CARNIE!

It was a concrete reminder--just like the Black Americana penny-banks in the glass case across the room--of what an un-politically correct time we were living in when I was a kid. (Whoa--I�m already studying the toys from my own childhood as if I�m some kind of archaeologist.)

And there�s something even funnier on the Little People Carnie�s face--an angry, frustrated-looking crooked eyebrow. As if the Little People creators knew that not only would the carnie be a disrespectful (the backward hat), pockmarked punk, but also, that he�d know how sucky his job was, too.

When I look back, it seems that not only were the LP creators a little insensitive toward carnival entrepreneurs, but also, they didn�t seem to be really worried about racial diversity. The only black one my sister and I ever had was the one black man from Sesame Street.

For a moment, at the antique store, I considered buying the LP Ferris Wheel, but I thought it might be a betrayal against the sacred one I used to own. That and, you know, it might signify a problem with arrested development or something.

I�m wondering if any of my old LP toys are still up in my parents� attic.

I know I had a Little People Yellow House, Ferris Wheel, and Farm. I never had the Parking Garage or the Helicopter or the Hospital. But it never really mattered, because remember how wherever you went when you were a kid, there were always more Little People scenarios around you? It was like the Little People who lived at your house on the LP Farm had cousins and aunts and uncles who lived in the Happy House Boat at your babysitter�s.

But I never knew ANYBODY who had Little People like these. If I had, that would�ve rocked.

that was then - this is now

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