10/9/2013 12:01:00 AM Harbor Springs...Now and Then
Cynthia Morse Zumbaugh
Since it is about a month before Halloween, it's probably time to start talking about Christmas, at least according to the displays I'm seeing in stores. I wonder what the "must have" toy will be this year? There seems to be one every year.
The first product that I remember people going completely nuts over was the Cabbage Patch Kid in the early eighties. There were riots in the stores, people took them from other shopper's carts, and they bribed employees, anything to get their hands on the cute, cuddly little dolls.
I can't imagine my mom rioting or paying five or six times retail in order to get me a specific toy, but then again, I can't remember every having something that I "had" to have. It's funny but for the most part, a year or two down the road no one cares about the fad toys anymore.
The fifties and sixties actually produced a high percentage of the toys that still have staying power today. Matchbox cars, Barbies, Hula hoops, skateboards and Ginny dolls were all introduced in the fifties and are still around today. The 60's offered us Hot Wheels, Legos, the Easy Bake Oven, GI Joe, Etch A Sketch, Superballs and Operation.
The seventies gave us Holly Hobby Dolls (and clothes,) Slime, Big Wheels, Magna Doodles, Space Hoppers (the bouncing balls with handles that you sat on) and Klackers, which were probably never intended to be a weapon but they sure turned into one in the hands of my sadistic brother. There's a reason my nose is crooked.
The closest the seventies came to a must have was the pet rock, which retailed for about $4.00 and came with care instructions. P.T. Barnum or David Hannum or whoever actually said, "There's a sucker born every minute" would have been very proud of Gary Dahl for this idea. Kind of makes me smack my head and say, "duh" about my generation. I didn't have a pet rock, but I did have a mood ring to tell me how I was feeling and since I have never had great circulation in my hands, my mood was most always black.
Did anyone in the eighties not try to conquer the Rubik's Cube? Everyone wanted one, but they should have been sold with a hammer to smash them to bits when the frustration took over. My Little Pony, Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and Transformers were all in high demand at one time or another during that decade.
The 'must have's" grew more insistent in the 90's. Pokemon, Tickle Me Elmo, Power Rangers and who can forget Furby? He retailed for $30 but parents were paying upwards of $200 to make certain that Christmas was absolutely perfect. A new, more technologically advanced version of Furby is out there this year; let's see if lightening will strike twice for this little guy. More recently, Zhu Zhu pets were very hard to come by in 2009. There was even a movie about this phenomenon in 1996, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in Jingle All the Way as a father determined, at all cost, to get his hands on an unobtainable toy. Apparently being an object of satire is not a deterrent for many people; the behavior continues.
So here's to being told what we, or more importantly, kids absolutely must have this Christmas for the next three months. Wasn't it a happy time when Christmas advertising didn't really kick in until after Thanksgiving?
This town has experienced quite a bit of loss over the past week and we would like to send our condolences to the families of Bill Conway, Betty Sprague, Theresa Crinnion and Jane Mancour. On a more personal level for me, we are also sending condolences to Howard White and to Karen and Roger Pennington and Evan and Kelsey Rosinski on the passing of Marilyn White. Even before I knew Karen well, I remember Marilyn's smiling face behind the counter at Gow's Little Acre and then later we always had the best time catching up on gossip each Christmas when I would go to Hoover's to get my Christmas tree. She will certainly be missed; no matter how old we get, we are never ready to be without our moms.
We also would like to send out some best wishes for a speedy recovery to Jill Van Alstyne and to Carolyn Sutherland, both recovering from some medical issues. Carolyn is recuperating at home and Jill is currently at McLaren Hospital in Petoskey working on some physical therapy. Also sending our best thoughts for a quick and complete recovery for Aaron Burdick after that horrific injury during the football game against Grayling.
Now, on to happier thoughts. First, Happy Anniversary to Ben and Nancy Manthei on October 10 seems as though you have been married forever (and I have no doubt that you will be.)
On Friday, October 11, we send out birthday wishes to Andy Meyer and to Addelyn Aguila and on Saturday, October 12 to Katie Morse and to Sarah Petrowski Hartman. Monday, October 14, we say Happy Birthday to Holly Peterson Krasiejko and on Tuesday to Katie Barkley, Jennifer Jezisek Sigan and Laurie Vokes (and we can add some engagement congratulations to Ms. Vokes along with the birthday wishes.)
Finally, and this may be last but never least, Happy Birthday to Patty Lauer Bek, Julie Flynn and Michael Erxleben.