Toy Story; the Prequel

Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 08:48 AM.

            As we grew older, they matured right along with us. We learned to mix sulfur, potassium nitrate and charcoal into a crude form of gunpowder. Those faithful army men lined up and volunteered to be blown away. We meticulously placed the soldier looking though the binoculars and the guy with the rifle over his head on the concrete side porch, piled the explosives up to their knees, and lit the fuse. Whoosh!  A lot of those volunteers lived through it only to be “blown up” again.

            They can’t make a toy today with that much loyalty and dedication.

            One Christmas we got a Red Ryder BB gun. We quickly tired of shooting at the cedar tree, the mailbox and each other. We “set up” our army men in the bank of the ditch that ran along the road in front of Aunt Jessie Killebrew’s house. We backed across the road, laid down in the opposite ditch, and went to picking off the soldiers one by one! We’d dig our spent BBs out of the dirt, reset the men, and fight till dark called us home.

            We buried a time capsule—a mason jar filled with our most prized possessions— in that field behind the house. Included with the magnet, frog skeleton and Stan Musial baseball card was the kneeling machine gun man. You can’t pay a toy a higher tribute than that!

            The week after Mom died I was rummaging around in the attic and came across the chard remains of the little green army man with the rifle held above his head. The tears carried me back to a braided rug, the warmth of a winter’s fire and a time and place that surrounded me with love. I wouldn’t trade nothing in the world for that childhood!

            I set the lone soldier gently back in his place. I thought of the explosions and bullets he’d taken on my behalf. And here he stood, after all the years, silently defending the house to the very end……..

            Let’s see one of those X Box One machines do that!

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