Toys, Books, and Games We Cherished

Pine Center for the Arts 

It Was the Best of Times, Worst of Times

Pardon us, but Charles Dickens would understand if he knew what we’re trying to do here.  A group of Pine City people under the umbrella of Pine Center for the Arts would like to collaborate to offer a series of sessions in November for intermediate-age children about the toys, books, and games that characterized various periods in the history of our nation, state, community, and families.  Most people have vivid memories of these in their own lives, and the initiative would try to make some of these memories shared experiences across generations of interested people in Pine City. 

       The tentative plan is for there to be planning sessions in the spring of 2024, information to the public in the summer, four after-school classes at the Pine Center for the Arts during the month of November, and  also a field trip to the Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul.  The third floor of that historic building features the toys, books, and games of the daughter and grandchildren of Governor and Mrs. Ramsey.  

Former St. Mary’s School teacher Twylah Teich used to share some of her memories with her students as well as her own two sons.  She got new paper dolls every Christmas and when they first came out, a new Barbie in the black and white swimsuit.  She sewed outfits for the doll.  “Monopoly” was a favorite game for Twylah and her brothers to play after coming in from helping with evening chores.  Monopoly is a long game, but Twylah noted that they rarely got to the end, because the siblings would start arguing, which culminated in one sibling throwing play money on the floor and their mother saying, “Time for bed!”.

       If you are willing to share memories of favorite childhood books, toys, and games, there’s an interest survey found on the Pine Center for the Arts website to print and  fill out. Paper copies of the survey are also available at the Pine City Library, Pine Center for the Arts and Pine City Senior Center. Surveys need to be returned to Pine Center for the Arts. If interest is expressed in the survey,  you may be asked to share your verbal memories, electronic photos if you still have the original objects, and/or brief written descriptions or old photos.  Because of lack of locked storage space, the committee will be unable to display your actual objects. 

       Clearly events such as wars, economic downswings, and natural disasters affected what toys, games, and books were available to children and their families.  So please reflect on your “best of times and worst of times” and how they affected your cherished playthings.  This could be fun for you as well as the children, so think it  over, and fill out the interest survey.  If you have any questions, please e-mail or for more information. 

       Please return completed surveys to Pine Center for the Arts or e-mail Julie Anderson or Jenny Peters-Swanson by April 15, 2024.

Every attempt will be made to make participation in this project accessible to all.