Monday, April 10, 2017

REMINISCING: Little People Worlds

I had no idea what I should write about for Reminiscing this week until I walked into the dining room last night before Wendy and I left for Royalton’s Bicentennial dinner. There on the table was a bunch of Little People arranged into beds and wheelchairs. Wendy explained to me that Josephine had put them together and declared that it was her hospital. You can see the picture later in this article.

When I was a kid, we had a whole country’s worth of Little People hanging around the house. We’ve probably lost just as many as we still have, and trust me, it’s a big bag of those people. We didn’t have a sandbox like a typical family. We had a stone box that was made up of the extra stone we got when my dad tried to fill in the low spots of our driveway. It was a fairly large box with a lot of stone. I bet it went about half the length of the garage.

With all our Fisher-Price construction vehicles, we had a workforce of Little People to fill out all the stones. We made mountains and valleys, and dug for new streets and neighborhoods. We pretended to build the Sesame Street house, and some other houses that we had that fit the Little People just perfectly. It was a stone world, sort of like the Flintstones. We even had cemeteries, which is probably how we lost some of the figures. We buried them and then couldn’t find them again.

We created a bonfide world, where there were storylines for the lives of the Little People that went beyond just the afternoon we were playing. Some arcs went for several days, always coming back to where we had dropped the story of that “person’s” life the day before. We had a tremendous imagination as kids.

Josephine's Little People Hospital
The Little People sometimes even went on vacation. We’d pile them into one of the vans that we had and they’d go on a roadtrip to the beach. Of course, the beach was my little brother’s wading pool that was situated all the way up near the house. It was a long way by Little People standards. Sometimes just before the lawn was cut, it would be long enough for them to hike through the wilds around the beach.

The Little People weren’t just for outside play. When I was littler, I had a Little People houseboat with a motorboat that would dock to it. Whenever it was bathtime, I would take the boat into the tub with me and have some playtime after I was all washed. Between baths, the houseboat was parked behind the toilet near the vanity. I’m not sure what happened to the houseboat itself, but I have the little motorboat and the people at my house. The girls play with them quite a bit.

While we had a good collection of Little People stuff, there was always someone else who had something “better.” One example was Matt Herman. He had the castle. The castle came complete with a trapdoor that would send the unexpecting Little Person to the far depths of the dungeon. Because he also had the Count from Sesame Street, we made him the evil Sesame Street Count who would send all his friends to the dungeon -- one---two--three--ah,ah,ah people at a time. Except for Big Bird. He never fit down the shoot to the dungeon. He’d get stuck and then we’d have to fish him out. He was a lucky bird.

My kids have been fortunate enough to get hand me downs from my family and from Wendy’s family. They have the farm, Sesame Street house, two Country Houses, a car park, one wing of a hospital, and a Holiday Inn. With all the people, they have a village. They can make the same world that I did when I was a kid. It’s good to see that they still have the imaginations like we did.

Somewhere out there in Little People land, Gordon and Susan are still making appearances alongside Grover, the construction crew, the houseboat sailors, and numerous unnamed extras that make up a majority of our homemade world. They all have a story to tell, and imaginations are limitless.

Craig Bacon thinks his talent for making new worlds in his writing stems from the stories and worlds he made up while playing with Little People as a kid.