One of the first things I did to get started on the Fireflies at Dusk project last summer was to go to a toy store. I was wanting to find inspiration and ideas for the project, so off we went to a large toy store. At that point, my daughter had developed quite an affinity for Hello Kitty, and at the store she spotted a stuffed one with an extremely large head. This caused a slightly embarrassing situation when she wanted it so much she put it in a head lock and dragged all the way down the aisle. There was enormous drama (aka standard two-year-old behavior) and the intermittent sounds of her yelling along with the edges of the cardboard box squeaking as it was scraping across the shiny floor. At the same time I could also hear another kid having a similar episode a few aisles down about some other toy. I was thinking to myself how funny it is that so many kids respond with such emotion over silly toys until I turned the corner and saw it and had a small episode of my own....
There it was in all its glory...the 1979 vintage style Snoopy snow cone maker. I became overwhelmed with emotion. I had no idea they were doing a re-make of this, nor did I know I would be holding back the tears as this unexpected memory popped out right in front of me. The icy sweet taste was almost again in my mouth and the sound of the shaved ice falling softly into the little paper cup was again almost filling my ears.
I can't think of a place - maybe other than a museum - that has as much fun and creative inspiration as a toy store. While big box toy stores can be fun (or in our case emotional), what I like most of all are smaller, local toy stores. I like going there even if just to window shop and get creative ideas, and I think simple toys are often the most interesting. My daughter picked out this small music box and I decided to let her get it. Normally music boxes are hidden inside something - but this one is cool because you can see exactly how it works. There are tiny metal pins - all different lengths for a different tone. The crank turns the cylinder which is encrypted with these tiny bits - like a punched card - to cause each of the pins to play the song. Of all the toys we play with as kids, the pop-culture toys undoubtedly reside in the archives of our memory. But the classic, timeless ones do, too.
(c) 2012 photography and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved