To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t George Lucas the filmmaking genius that attracted me to Star Wars. It was George Lucas the marketing genius that roped me in. In 1977, like most kids my age (I was six), I saw the movie. Yes I liked it, but it was just some movie.
One day I was next door at my neighbor lady’s house, playing with her visiting grandson who was about my age. She had a present for him. He opened it, and as typical with little kids, he wasn’t shy about expressing disappointment.
“Grandma! I already have Darth Vader!”
He already had it. I did not. I didn’t have any Star Wars toys. I hadn’t even thought about collecting them. So the neighbor lady gave me the Darth Vader. Well, I knew I couldn’t just have one Star Wars character. I asked my parents for more. Next came R2D2 and C3PO. That Christmas, under the tree from Santa, there was The Death Star Space station along with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia.
From that point on, I was hooked! I could barely remember the Star Wars plot. I acquired comic books and did what I could to research the story. More toys came my way, more play sets. Finally, the movie came back to the theaters. I saw it again and I loved it!!!! It’s a love I still have to this day!
I do believe I had every hero and villain shown in this video and many more. They came in rectangular cardboard boxes; about half the size of a Kleenex box. At the store they were stacked on top of each other. It was fun tearing apart the toy aisle to see what each box contained.
Besides super heroes and their respective villains, I had characters from other series: Wizard of Oz, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Starsky and Hutch, Welcome Back Kotter, Archie Andrews and Jughead, The Rookies. And oh so many more!
Earlier on this list there were letter blocks. Now here come the letter magnets. This is higher up because I remember playing with these more than the blocks. For some reason, letters fascinated me. I even remember assigning gender and personality to certain letters. I remember reading over and over an Electric Company book where some Super Gorilla had to save the planet from the evil “silent e”. These “e’s” kept placing themselves at the end of certain words; turning a can into a cane, a pan into a pane.
I also had the desk shown in the video. The drawers of the desk were a great place to keep all these wonderful letters. They came in various colors. If I focused, I bet I could remember what color each letter was. A was red, B was orange……E was blue, F was purple. And I won’t go any further, you get the point.
These were the best! I had a bunch of Fisher Price “Wooden People” Playsets: a house, farm, school, village, cruise ship, and of course, the castle which is shown in this video. The castle was the best. It had a trap door which led to a dungeon. It had a cave where a dragon dwelled. It had a draw bridge and staircase that opens. Also, there was a king, queen, knight, robin hood character and horse and buggy. (Basically everything you saw in the video)
Writing this story was a lot of fun! I had three goals in mind that were both challenging and enjoyable.
The first was to create a decadent and pleasure seeking folk-hero (somewhat in the fashion of Jack Kerouac’s “mad to live” character Dean Moriarty in “On the Road” but in the background of the urban nightlife as was Jay McInerney’s narrator in “Bright Lights, Big City.”) who believes that he is on a spiritual quest. This part of the story is told in the first person.
The fun part was finding spiritual and philosophical allegories and tying them into the sometimes mundane, sometimes outlandish events surrounding the character. The goal was not to convince the reader that, say, going to a bar and having a drink was like having Holy Communion at a church altar. Rather I hoped to convey that such a comparison was perfectly in line with the way my character thought and behaved. His journey is not necessarily a believable one. Rather, he is the embodiment of the Freudian “ID”, a “voice” that if indeed existed in real life would best left inside the prison of the unconscious.
My second goal relates to the other intertwining tale; creating events in a setting where fictional voices move the narrative. These would be the voices inside his head; the third person if you will, or in this case, the three or more “people”. They are humorous at times. They comment on everything, driving an already unstable person even madder. I had to write in such a way that these voices spoke in a way that was relevant to the story, but at the same time had the freedom to be inane and random.
My final goal was to wrap everything up in one cohesive story. It took a while to come up with a workable ending. There were many possibilities but I am satisfied I chose the right one when concluding this tale.
So there you have it. I hope you find this story as enjoyable to read as it was to write.
Coke or Pepsi? Definitely Coke. Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars? I don’t know the difference. I had both and consider them the same. The orange tracks they show in the video? Yeah I had that, with a cool upside down loop.
This wasn’t sold in stores. It was not available for purchase anywhere. This is because my daddy built this Hollywood Square frame just for me!
Before I was old enough to go to school, I would watch The Hollywood Squares on daytime TV with my mom and grandma. I had seen it enough times to start “playing Hollywood Squares”. I would line up my stuffed animals on the steps; the first step was the bottom row, the second step the middle and so on. I apparently had so much fun with this that my dad built me this frame.
To this day, I look at the picture and I know who certain toys represent. The clown in the middle is Paul Lynde. The duck on the bottom left is Charlie Weaver. Next to him, the blue baby, is Pearl Bailey. Next to her, the stuffed bear, is George Gobel. I swear to you that I hardly know what these Hollywood people did in show business, nor do I remember what they looked like. But when I see this photo, I know Charlie Weaver is a duck and the elephant in the top middle row is Rose Marie. Next to her to the left is Humpty Dumpty. I couldn’t remember his Hollywood Squares alias, but I knew he was a fat man with black curly hair. After research, I saw that he was Marty Allen.
Note the three little people on the floor. These are Fisher Price people. The host of Hollywood Squares is in the middle, the contestants on either side.
Now this game wasn’t just about mimicking what they did on the TV show. I had a plastic gun that shot plastic balls. After I finished playing “The Hollywood Squares story” (whatever that was), the stuffed celebrities then became objects in a shooting gallery!
I had two big wheels. When friends came over to do some serious kid-riding, we always fought over who got to use the Green Machine. That was to be expected. It was the most awesome of the awesome in the world of big wheels!
I was never able to build anything impressive with these things! Still, I loved them! I had them at home but our school had them as well. One kid in our class made some kind of “ooo and ahhh” setup. It stayed up in the classroom for several days. He even had a sign that said “If you touch this you will be kiled” He could build great log houses, but he couldn’t spell very well.