Recently I was watching “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS. There was some guy who had brought vintage toys for appraisal. Apparently calling old stuff “vintage” is better than calling it old. Anyway, I realized that one of the vintage trucks that he had was similar to one I played with as a boy. Furthermore, I was certain that I still had it in a box in the basement. And to my delight I found my Buddy L® pickup truck and trailer.
I thought that my grandson Noah might enjoy playing with my old (vintage) metal truck. And he in fact loves it! It brings back happy memories for me, too. This truck and trailer must be over 50 years old. My friends and I would “drive it” through the empty lot across the street when we were boys. We imagined we were on a huge construction site and would play all day with our trucks and cars in the dirt and weeds. Our beloved empty lot finally gave way to a new home and eventually my friends and I grew too old for toy cars and trucks. Luckily mine was safely boxed away only to find a new life as a vintage toy.
Happy to have rediscovered one of my toys, I am still a little troubled by the “antique” label. If my toy is antique what does that say about me? My Buddy L® truck is 100% metal except for the rubber tires. It’s heavy, has sharp edges and is likely coated with toxic paint. To my knowledge, no safety tests have ever been performed. No recalls ever issued. This truck has only been boy-tested and it passed that test long ago with flying colors. It has careened over countless hillsides and carried scores of plastic Army men and farm animals.
Today she is a little rusty and worn (hey – so am I). But Noah has given her new life. When my granddaughters join in, the truck is sometimes reduced to carrying Polly Pockets® and Pretty Ponies®. But Noah and I are mostly purists and we like to haul “boy stuff” in her bed and trailer. So we have plastic farm animals and safari animals to load up now. We also sometimes carry his Uncle Blake’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles® (which I suppose are not quite yet vintage).
Old toys can play hard. My antique Buddy L® has proven that.
But I wonder how often I discard things that were once purposeful but now considered obsolete? How many times have I written something off as useless or unnecessary? And what about people? Do I view elderly people as a burden? Because they are old, are they not worthy of my time and attention? Do I overlook the beauty, wisdom and experience of a life well lived? Antiques are treasured for the very fact that they are old. But I fear in our society we often dismiss our older citizens for that very same reason.
I know that my truck can still play hard and I’m learning that grandpas can play hard, too.
Noah, thanks for letting me come along for the ride! I think that Buddy L® and I still have a few good “vintage” years left.