I always liked disc caps better than roll caps for my blazing guns when I was a kid. They made a louder bang when you fired, and they gave off so much smoke that it was difficult for your buddy to pretend he had not just been blasted full of holes.
The problem, though, was that a disc cap gave you just six shots, and so you had to keep opening up your metal revolver and reloading. Meanwhile, the kid with the gun that shot the less-spectacular but longer-lasting roll caps was using you for target practice through an acrid haze and shouting humiliating things like Eat hot lead, skunk, to which you could only weep bitter tears and try not to let your weapon's hammer slam on your shaky fingers.
I make this point because recently the Toy Hall of Fame admitted two classic playthings – dominoes and Star Wars figures. I don't know if the good old all-metal American cap gun (disk or roll) is already enshrined there, but I believe it certainly should be.
In fact, there are some other toys from mid-20th century that belong in the place. But I doubt that they'll ever get in.
Is anybody lobbying for World War II war surplus items like gas masks, canteens and field blankets? Admittedly they were not true toys. But in the late 1940s my Rolling Mill Hill neighborhood was awash with gear brought back by dads, brothers, uncles and cousins who had whipped the evil Axis powers.
We kids idolized those older guys. Just handling the stuff they'd carried with them in exciting-sounding places like France or the Pacific gave us magical strength. In our heroes' honor we would storm a blockhouse in somebody's back yard, dig in for the night (even though the sun was shining) and swig down canteens of water despite not really being thirsty.
The girls also had some toys that might be turned back at the museum's door, even though they provided countless hours of pleasure.
One was a simple substance – chalk. With chalk they drew those arcane sidewalk patterns to play hopscotch. Don't tell me that chalk isn't a toy. The young ladies spent hours leaping, twisting, stretching, all in the service of some goal I couldn't grasp. And they couldn't have done it without chalk.
They got other kinds of fun out of chalk. One of them would write on a wall or sidewalk something about Bobby and Susie, and the result would be days or weeks of giggling and finger-pointing by some and craven slinking about by others. Facebook be damned!
In honesty I must say that we probably would have whined just like 21st-century kids for heavily marketed toys with names like an iWhozis or Kill the Bloodsucking Zombie if they'd been available. But they didn't exist outside of Space Patrol on Saturday morning radio. So we fell back on simple objects and tons of imagination.
That brings me to my final nominee for the Toy Hall of Fame. It's the little tabletop radio with a lighted dial, a tinny speaker and a direct link to the world of titans like Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and his wonder dog King. Your own little box of glowing tubes didn't need any expensive add-ons, it never wore out and no hacker could turn it against you. It was the perfect toy.
Ah, there's only one solution.
Toy Hall of Fame poobahs, how do I get on the selection committee?
Tom Mooney is a Times Leader columnist. Reach him at [email protected].