Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Elsie Stix

Borden was a company based in Columbus, Ohio, with a large product line. A lot of their products were dairy, such as ice cream, condensed milk, and cheese.

Borden used to have these great frozen treats, and there was something special about them besides the taste. Instead of a wooden stick inserted as a handle, each one had a plastic stick to hold onto. Elsie Stix (named for Elsie the cow, Borden's mascot) came in different colors and were designed to be interlocking so that you could build things with them.

A lot of kids--and probably adults too--collected Elsie Stix. It was nice to have something to play with after the ice cream was gone. However, the best thing about Elsie Stix was that you could enjoy your frozen treat without being subjected to a wooden stick. I can't be the only one who doesn't like those things!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Show 'n Tell

I had this really cool toy called a Show 'n Tell. It looked like a combination of a record player and television. It was small and box-shaped like a TV, with a screen in the front. On the top, it had a fully functioning record player. Also on the top, there was a thin, deep slot.

The Show 'n Tell played records, but its main purpose was to tell stories. To use this educational toy to its full potential, you had to buy the appropriate accessories. These were the '70s equivalent of educational videos and came in the form of a combination record/slide strip.

When you wanted to play one of the stories, you put the record on the turntable and started playing it, simultaneously inserting the slide strip into the slot, as far as it would go. As the story progressed, the strip would automatically rise, so that the next image would show on the screen.

I'm not sure how many stories I had, but I remember two of them. One was based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving. It was where I first learned about the Headless Horseman, Brom Bones, and Ichabod Crane. I played this one a lot.

The other was a cool lesson in Spanish. It featured a song with several verses that changed according to which family member was going shopping and what that person was buying. I still remember the tune and some of the lyrics.

The Show 'n Tell was pretty high-tech for its time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

So Many Books!

When I was in grade school, my classmates and I had to fulfill a reading requirement outside the classroom. I'm not sure how many years it was required, but I do know it was mandatory in at least the first and second grades.

The requirement was simple. We had to read a certain number of books in addition to the ones we all read in class. These extra books could be anything we wanted, as long as we read the entire book and not just a page or two. I believe the required number was 32.

At the beginning of the school year, we received a pre-printed form on which we (or a parent) were to write down the book titles. Then, at the end of the school year, we turned in the completed form. If we exceeded the requirement, we could continue the list on another sheet of paper, staple the pages together, and hand in the entire list. We didn't get any extra credit for them, but the teacher could see just how busy we'd been.

I was always an avid reader, read far above my grade level, and read just about anything I could get my tiny hands on. It always took me very little time to get through the required number of books. Just 32? No problem!

In the second grade, I was pretty pleased with my list. I'd read well over a hundred books and could easily have told you what happened in all of them if asked. (That was back when my memory was actually quite good, as opposed to now, when I probably couldn't tell you anything about what I read yesterday.)

I proudly gave my teacher the list. She glanced at it, scowled, and asked, "Why'd you read so many?"

Can you imagine?

Fortunately, her sour attitude didn't spoil my love of books.

Welcome to Ellie's Attic

The attic is where people used to store things, back when I was younger. Maybe most people still do.

In any case, Ellie's Attic is about memories. Whether it's toys, games, or something else from the past, this is where I'll be writing about the way things used to be. Good old days? Maybe in some ways, but definitely not in others.