Monday, January 31, 2011



Long before there was rubber tired wheels available to Mill Hill kids for wagons there were ‘cog wheels’. These were gears that had cracked or lost a tooth or two. When a boy could find two or four of the same size, that was a wagon. Many times there were two larger ones in the back and two smaller ones in the front. Guys would trade around until they had four that would work.

Gears_side_viewcog gears

Mill racer

Most boys were bare foot, man when they ran over your toe it HURT! The motor was a buddy to push you, or a hill to ride down, and then pull it back up before the ride down again.


(Neither of these are Jim, but similar cars)

Most boys dreamed of entering the Soap Box Derby, but it was mostly a dream. It was nothing like a ‘Soap Box’ by the time I was a kid. They were streamlined and fast. Shirley’s husband Jim, rest his soul, won a soap box derby in Charlotte. I think she still has the Charlotte Observer coverage of the race with his picture and the sleek Soap Box he drove. But for most boys it was just a dream. I did witness a couple actual races in Albemarle, NC, but of course never could enter.


I have always been curious. Why did girl’s dolls eyes close when you laid them down? Shirl had a big doll, all it took was one hit in the back of its head with dad’s ball peen hammer to open a hole so I could see.


It was a counter weight, neat. Then I put white first aid tape back over the hole and colored it brown, looked good to me. I was practically a brain surgeon. Would you believe she noticed, and told mama? (If only the little sucker had had hair or a cap!)

Well at least at 7 yrs. old I knew about why eyes closed at night! WE have this counter balance in our heads that close them. Shucks, I should have gone into medicine as a surgeon. Probably could have prescribed something for a sore rear end too.

What was your favorite toy? Any home-made ones?

Thanks for coming by the log, I appreciated your time.

Nite Shipslog



Nash (or Hudson) Metropolitan 1955 We actually rebuilt two of these, it has an MG engine in it. great little car. Superman’s girl friend Lois Lane had a convertible Metro.

Something heard when this car was new:

'It's too bad things are so tough nowadays..
I see where a few married women have to work
to make ends meet.


Rose said...

Loved all your photos and stories. Oh my....a hammer to the head of the doll........LOL

Ouch, those wheels over bare feet surely must have hurt. I don't remember my brothers making them. I only remember them making scooters with wood and old roller skates for wheels. And, they decorated the scooter with soda bottle caps.

Hugs, Rose

shirl72 said...

I can't believe you have confessed about my doll.
Your reputation is going to be in question when
read by your friends. After that traumatic experience she had to be fitted with glasses.
I don't think she had a good nights sleep after that experience.

I do have the Charlotte Paper with Jim's picture
on the front page flashing a big smile after winning. He built the Soap Box Derby by himself.


I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

That is the difference between boys and girls I guess. We are content to care for our dolls and boy have to tinker. I guess some girls do but for me a doll was enough. Hope you are enjoying the warmth there. Yet another winter storm is headed our way. Take care!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I forgot, I wanted to tell you I updated verison to Mifi and it works pretty good

Fred Alton said...

hahaha! Had to laugh when I saw that picture - and you thinking maybe no one would notice!! Ouch, I'm sure you wished you could invent more of that liniment. Man oh man! We three Brannen boys maybe modified our Red Flyer wagon a bit - but never got into the soap box derby thing. I was working on a "hooey" stick yesterday, which is a toy our Daddy taught us to make. I think I showed it to you when you were here last time. We also used to take empty spools from Number Eight sewing thread, notch the edges, take two crayons for the sides and tie them together through the spool with a rubber band. By winding the crayons in opposite directions, we made "tractors". They would sometimes crawl as far as 12 feet across the linoleum floor. ☺

Helen said...

My brother and my youngest uncle used to make what they called truck wagons, similar to your drawing. My grandaddy had a wood shop and they made wooden wheels for it. They fixed a strip across the front to guide it with your feet. We took lots of bumps in it. It sure was a lot of fun to ride on that thing. I used to play with them and a younger boy cousin because there wasn't any girls my age to play with. I swung out of tree tops just like they did. We also used to make the tractors like Fred is talking about. Helen

Y said...

I love the way your jack-of-all-trades brain works. Thanks for sharing.

Jimmy's Journal said...

We built our own one manpower "race karts" using wagon wheels and axles. They were built almost exactly like your drawing. We all loved them except for the owner's of the wagons we "borrowed" to build 'em.


P.S. That car's a Nash.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful to travel with you through time. Have to admit, that I do have to think about what I played with when young. Close to four in the morning, maybe tomorrow. A safe road ahead and a good new month.

Dar said...

The boys were always tinkering with something, usually involving batteries of all sizes, making go-carts, scooters, rebuilding bikes and wagons. Heck, Bill is Still doing that. Andy and his cousin, Nate, (Cher's son), need I say more, once threw together a 6V battery and tied it to a GI Joe boat, with a popsicle stick for the prop, and ran it across the tub as a remote controlled boat. It didn't work quite as they wanted so they added a switch of some kind...what got me riled, was the battery in the water...all ' JUST BECAUSE!'
My favorite toy as a kid was a doll, 'With her head intact,' that closed her eyes when I laid her down. Jack, don't YOUR eyes close, when you lay down? You are a

Paula said...

Did you ever make stilts to walk on out of cans and baling wire? The pointing finger and thumb made a pretty good gun. One time it snowed in south Texas and my mama being from Oklahoma wanted us to have fun with a sled so she took the wheels off our little wooden red wagon and put runners on. It would have worked good except there wasn't enough snow. Wishful thinking on her part.

Sheila Y said...

OK, now I need to know what a 'hooey' stick is...ha. I liked dolls, but I also liked roaming those woods (that 'Sam' keeps climbing trees in)
playing hide and seek with my friends and wading in Indian Creek.
Enjoy warm Florida,

~mel said...

A brain surgeon! You are a riot!! So did your momma whoop your naughty little butt and make it hard for you to sit down for a few day? My momma would have.

I had a big doll with the closing eyes and my brother Randy let our dog Lobo (who was a pup at the time) play with it and he ate her fingers off. I still gave her all the love a little girl could give... but I do remember Mom giving Randy some time out in the thinking chair for letting the dog eat her fingers off. Then I also recall her having him stand up to take a punishment on the rear end ~ because he wouldn't quit teasing me about it and laughing while he was suppose to be sitting there thinking. She didn't spank us often; but when she did ~ she always said it was to make the lesson stick!

Cher' Shots said...

Your entries always spark up a memory for me too! One Halloween when my girls were little, I dressed as a head-hunter! I took the heads off all the dolls and hung them by their hair on a belt around my waist. Along with an old grass skirt, a make-up job and some huge clay beads around my neck, I looked pretty darn good!! The heads were all replaced the next morning and the girls played with their babies as usual. lol

Lucy said...

I did not visit any blogs and spent very little time in facebbok I hate the way my Texas kids have been raised and all it did was make me disgusted when I go on FACEBOOK and see them so screwed up. At any rate I wish I had visited this one. What were you thinking, doing that to Shirl's dolls.