Toys In The Attic
(Originally posted July 9, 2009; Reposting January 25, 2021)
“Leaving the things real behind . . .”
From “Toys In The Attic” recorded by Aerosmith
Can I ask you a question? And I REALLY want you to be honest with me, okay? Have you ever strolled through an antique store and caught yourself looking admiringly at a toy, book, or other item that was just like one you had when you were a kid?
And, while holding that item and smiling fondly as all the memories come flooding back to you, does a horrible thought come to your mind? And is that thought something like, “Holy Guacamole! I’m standing here in an ANTIQUE STORE holding a toy that I used to play with!”?
This has happened to me a few years ago when I visited a Missouri antique toy store. As I held a pristine, 1966 Mercedes Benz 230SL Convertible Matchbox toy car (with a price of around $12! My dad bought one for me just like it when it was brand new for around $0.88!), I had one of the “guacamole moments”.
I then sat the relic of my ancient past back down on the shelf, trying to act like I was seeing this kind of toy for the first time in my life. I started to pay closer attention to the other items in the store. And, yes, much of the inventory was much more familiar than I would care to admit. Don’t sit there and laugh at me. I know that you’ve been there, too! Can I get a witness?
Not long after getting home from that humiliating trip down Memory Lane, I dug out my two carrying cases of Matchbox cars and started comparing them to those offered for sale on eBay. While impressed with the hefty prices my cherished childhood collection could fetch on the competitive open market, I closed up the cases and carefully put them back to where I keep them. I decided to keep them in order to pass these little antiques to my daughter as an heirloom. Who knows? Maybe they will be of some sort of sentimental value to her and her kids after I’ve left this earth.
Now, I’d be the first to tell you that I can be quite the pack rat (both materially and emotionally). But this experience has got me to thinking about how we are with our lives. Baby Boomers were raised to value our family and heritage. While our older siblings of the Sixties did manage to plant the seeds of doubt towards society and its norms, we usually displayed a certain level of respect towards our elders, authority and tradition. And, yes, we did so while viewing them through the suspicious eyes our big brothers and sisters influenced us to have.
Thirty-something years after graduating from Moon Valley High School in Phoenix, I (like you) have observed a gradual shift from our core values and our roots. It would appear that we’ve eBayed those core values of our youth to the highest bidder. Those were, and are, values that made us what we are today. As Aerosmith sang in “Toys In The Attic”, it seems that we have left “the things that are real behind”.
If you’re questioning whether or not you have sold yourself out, then the fact that you’re asking means that you probably haven’t – at least not completely. Perhaps now would be a good time to dust of the toys in the attic of our minds and smile as we remember those things that have made us who we are.
Maybe we can reach back and pull out from within our inner-most being those good “toys”. The toys of helping others, giving a smile to a stranger, showing courtesy and consideration, and committing what has been referred to as “random acts of kindness”. These traits are all in our mental toy box.
We would do well in keeping these toys dusted off and to not sell them at any price. We must keep them in our mind’s eye until we breathe our last. In doing so, we’ll leave precious heirlooms to our family, friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers. These are gifts that keep on giving!
Check out the Boomerocity interview with Aerosmith drummer, Joey Kramer, here! Also, you can order his book, Hit Hard, by clicking on the book image on the left.