Car scrapping and the end of the Cold War

car toys

Hot Wheels car carrier and portable playset.

One of my favorite pastimes as a kid was playing with Hot Wheels™, Matchbox™ and other types of small cars.

That tire case above is full of cars, trucks, tanks, planes and helicopters that was well loved, a lot of times in the bathtub. I would often grab that case and the Sears Service Center case pictured and play in the family room of my parents’ home.

We had red, shag carpet for a long time in that room, so playing with the cars on the floor caused me to pretend that I was driving through the jungle or high grass.

If you can tell from the picture, I had a few airplanes as well. I guess I was a child of the Cold War, but only the last remnants of it. It’s not like I had to do “Duck and Cover” drills in school or anything. But we had Rambo, G.I. Joe, Rocky IV, Reagan and Gorbachev – we knew the Russians were our enemy. I flew those planes all over the house. My imagination and those metal vehicles took me places.

These items have been sitting in my closet for the last year. My parents hadn’t thrown them out so when I discovered them at their house, I brought them to mine where they’ve stayed ever since.

And now they’re gone, donated to Goodwill.

The one thing that caught me off guard about my old, tired cars and sets was the reaction of my oldest daughter. She took them off to her room to play with them for awhile until it was time for them to go. The cars no longer provided value to me, but she’s definitely interested.

So I promised her we would get her a new set eventually. What she doesn’t know is that my eventually comes with a catch: we have to get the room she shares with her sister under control first.

We’ll get there. Baby steps. But first, the parents need to lead the way. Then we can go find some cars that add value to her childhood.

3 thoughts on “Car scrapping and the end of the Cold War

  1. Debbi

    Love this. I caught myself thinking “I’ll take those cars off your hands, my son would love them,” and then I was mildly relieved when you said they were already donated. Because we don’t need them, either; he already has hordes of diecast cars to play with. (And he does play with them, a lot.)

    I’m intrigued by your blog and this journey and will definitely be following along. Lately, I find myself feeling increasing suffocated by all the “stuff” we accumulate and I’ve realized it’s making me unhappy. But we very definitely suffer from your “sentimental attachment disorder.”

    Baby steps!

    1. ericjgruber Post author

      Maybe my memory has diminished with age, but I don’t recall having as many toys as my kids do. I think that’s probably because toys are cheaper while incomes are higher. That said, I never, ever recall thinking that my childhood sucked. I had a great childhood and had plenty of toys to keep my mind stimulated.

      Glad (sad?) to hear I’m not the only one suffering from sentimental attachment disorder, but I think there’s a cure!

      1. wayne

        I’ve come to realize part of the reason middle income America is having a decrease in wealth, unlike our grandparents & parents, is because our kids “must have” or “must be involved”. I’ve definitely tried to make strides to the things my daughter get being more inolvement from me like playing games together (fine, it’s often on an ipad, but its us..& it’s connect 4 & Uno!) reading together, & less buying. With my new son it’s definite his favorite toy is dad. I’ve tried to make most date nights at home. I’m still bad about buying giftd for my wife. Wait, can it be bad to buy gifts for one’s wife? Anyway, Definitely trying to combat marketing & advertising. Super. I have a degree in marketing. The metaphorical internal conflict of man fighting with himself is my real life. At least i’m fighting a worthy, intelligent opponent!


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