Childhood dreams come true in museum exhibit

Toys from collection and local residents’ homes speak of times that felt simpler


What was your favorite toy?

The Littleton Museum not only offers a farm with live animals, but has drawn on its extensive collection — and borrowed a few favorite toys from well-known Littleton residents. Curators have mounted an exhibit called “The Way We Played” that really offers adults a happy trip down Memory Lane, while stimulating the children who were visiting when I did to want to play with those toys in their own ways — right now!

A handsome, large log dollhouse stands just inside the entrance, made for a lucky girl named Lavonne Ames Axford, by a Mr. Axford (Dad? Grandad?). The table is set and other beautifully made furnishings, including a rocking chair, stand in the parlor of this home. No further word about who the lucky Miss Axford may have been — it would have been fun to know a bit more about where and when she enjoyed playing with this. Or could it have been made for a grown woman as a gift? There is no evidence of wear and tear on any of the immaculate furnishings placed within: a table, set with tiny items, a chair, carpet and fireplace.

To relieve itchy fingers which must badly want to touch everything shown in cases, wise designers have set up a space near the doorway with mystery items that one touches through a hole in a box. What can you tell by just touching an item? Is that a small fuzzy teddy, hidden from sight? And at another spot, the sense of smell is emulated …

Continue on to toy service stations with shiny metal autos and trucks, served by a small attendant, and find a miniature Main Street scene nearby, with a group of mini-citizens on the corner. Where are they going? What are they discussing?

Settings for different trades are also in those glass cases: a small attendant waits to service your car at that wee gas station, for example.

Life-sized photos of several well-recognized Littleton residents are combined with favorite toys. Kim Field shares a special “Mystery Date” board game she loved and Jack Whiting reminisces about the taxidermy course he signed up for. Growing up in Littleton, that boy shot and mounted a squirrel, he recalled — and received an official certificate attesting to his skills. His daughter Jennifer has shared an impressive Barbie and Ken camper vehicle — plus the dolls in casual clothing …

Cases contain items I recall finding around our home when my quartet was growing up: a large pinata, Mr. Potato Head, Silly Putty, comic books, kitchen pots and wooden spoons — which at our house made their way to the sand box on occasion, causing an occasional cooking challenge … There’s a Hula Hoop (have you seen the museum’s 1950s photo of Main Street filled with Hula Hoopers?).

A Jolly mechanical monkey can clang cymbals together and the case also contains a top, a Slinky toy, a kaleidoscope, Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs.

GI Joe and other action figures, including Power Ranger Trini Kwan (1994) join a Little Sunbeam doll by Hasbro, which also made the very popular My Little Pony.

Kelly Stahlman shares her kewpie doll — which she still has — and her husband, Bruce, shared his favorite Flintstone’s Dino-Crane, which he said was probably promoted on that popular TV show. “We are never far-removed from our childhood — it’s a line we can discover very early,” he observed.

A tent made from a blanket draped over something holds a rotund teddy bear and a cozy snack of cookies and milk — perhaps cookies made in the nearby Easy Bake Oven?

A large model U-Control plane calls up the local engineer Paul Bingham’s efforts to save enough money to buy the kit for it in Greeley, where he grew up. He built it, then entered it in a contest, he recalls in a statement mounted with his photo — while Barb Miller’s portrait features her with the Nancy Ann Storybook dolls she enjoyed as a child in South Pueblo — and still owns ...

Stop by with a special child — or just by yourself to enjoy this happy scene.


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