The exhibition presents ‘Florida Girls & Boys & their Toys’
Toys have certainly changed over the decades.
Years ago, toys were simpler and didn’t involve screens or computer circuits.
A simple stick with a replica of a horse’s head on one end was a horse that you “ride”.
All you needed was a coiled piece of yarn for a Slinky, or a thin plastic hoop for a hoop, and with a little imagination and ingenuity you had a toy that gave you hours of fun.
“Florida Girls & Boys & their Toys,” on display at the Center for Performing Arts in Bonita Springs through July 28, is a primarily illustrated recording of the state’s children and their toys over the past 130 plus years. This is part of the Museum of Florida History’s traveling exhibits program.
In addition to photos, the exhibit includes real toys including robots, plastic soldiers, yo-yos, building blocks, a Kewpie doll, and the Twister game. Also on display is an original Slinky, “The Walking Spring Toy”, along with its box, which has instructions printed on the side on how to “walk a Slinky on the stairs”, “play with Slinky with your hands”, “Slinky walk down a slope or downhill” and “Bounce Slinky up and down”.
The first photo appears to be Gilman Joseph Winthrop of Tallahassee, sitting on his leisure horse in December 1883. Her dress is topped with a large lace collar.
The most recent photo, taken in a Hollywood park in 1971, shows a group of boys playing with pieces from Tinker Toy. (If you look closely, it looks like a Stingray bike with a banana seat on the grass behind them.)
As an introductory sign explains, “Although toys have changed over time – plastics have replaced metals and corners aren’t as sharp – they still hold a very important place in our lives. The photos in this exhibit tell a visual story of how Florida lifestyles and photography have changed over the years.
Children today may look at toys from the past with curiosity or bewilderment, while their parents and grandparents fondly remember them. (Kids will likely flock to the over three-foot-tall replica of Olaf the snowman from “Frozen,” made with Lego bricks – a famous cartoon character recreated with toys.)
It’s an exhibit that generations can enjoy, says Susan Bridges, president of the Centers for the Arts. (Ms. Bridges, who grew up in Chicago in the 1950s, says her favorite toys were “scissors, pencils, pencils, and paper when I was a kid. I shaped, cut, drawn, colored, made objects and folded them into three dimensions. ”)
“Most of our elders look and say, ‘Oh wow, I remember…’ and remember,” she says of the exhibit. “It opens up a dialogue between parents, grandparents and children. Grandparents say to children, “I used to play with these. I have played the same kind of games (but) you play them on the phone or on the computer. “”
But sometimes, she admits, kids watching the exhibit can’t figure out how old toys worked.
She remembers the look on a child’s face when an instructor at the center started talking about how she was playing skipping rope and Double Dutch skipping.
As she described it, “The girl was looking at her like she had two heads,” Ms. Bridges says, laughing at the memory. Maybe she was wondering: who would want to play with a piece of string?
A man, looking at the green plastic toy soldiers in a display case, remembers how he played with similar toy soldiers. His own father had also had a set of toy soldiers, but his were made of metal. (Children today play with digital soldiers on a computer screen.)
She overheard another father tell his son about a robot he had when he was little, then talk about the yo-yos they had seen under glass. The boy mentioned he had a yo-yo, and the two agreed that when they got home the father would show his son the yo-yo tricks he could do.
There are at least three photos with carts – one pulled by a goat. And lots of pictures of girls with dolls, which never seem to go out of style.
A 1968 photo shows a blonde girl in Tallahassee in a floral dress having milk and cookies with her Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.
An earlier photo, also taken in Tallahassee, depicts a doll party in the 1920s. Sixteen girls and their dolls pose in front of a house. One girl in the middle of the group is almost overshadowed by her a doll in a daring striped outfit.
There are also Christmas photos: two brothers in Fort Meade with their new train, shot in the 1890s, and a little girl surrounded by toys in Tallahassee in 1895, sitting in front of a giant Christmas tree that takes up most of the room. the picture.
“It’s a nice little show, perfect for us,” says Ms. Bridges. “Conversations and dialogues are universal between children and their families. Anyone can relate to these toys. We’re a very multigenerational arena here, ”she says, noting that parents and grandparents bring their children to the center for art, music and dance classes.
“(Watching this exhibit) is something they can do together and have new conversations. It’s great to see kids, parents and grandparents talking to each other. It’s a way to go back in history.
“These are toys that they can all relate to,” she says. “What kid doesn’t report to a truck?” It doesn’t matter what era it is. ¦
In the KNOW
Florida Girls & Boys and Their Toys Exhibition
Where: Performing Arts Center, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs
When: until July 28, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday
Information: 239-495-8989 or www.artcenterbonita.org