I’m interested to know what you might recall if 1961 was the year that you graced this planet with your presence.
Personally, I don’t recall anything from that year except the vaguest sense of a speech delivered in May, by then President John F. Kennedy. In it, he outlined new goals for America during the height of the Cold War.
I don’t know if my parents heard the speech on the radio in their tiny German apartment in what must have been the middle of the night for them. I’d like to think I heard the muffled version of his Bostonian tone and inflection while in utero, still comfortable with all of June and July to pass before I was fully baked.
I was a kid, or about to be one, so what did I have to look forward to aside from the space race, fear of a Russian nuclear attack and desegregation?
A quick search led me to the impressive knowledge that in 1961, several of the most popular Christmas gifts (toys) were:
LEGO Building Sets – I never owned any but my friends did and I think my brother had some. In any case, I never managed to construct more than a simple staircase. I was unable to visualize and build anything amazing.
Stratego – a game that I never owned because it is a battle strategy game. Anything war-like would have been unwelcome at our house. This is only a theory of mine, but I suspect my Mom—a pacifist, would have been protesting the war in Vietnam had she not been raising kids at the time.
Ken Carson (Barbie’s boyfriend) – What ?!?!? Ken had a last name? Where’s my memo? (More when I discuss “Ken issues” I had in 1968 and 1995.)
Slip ‘n Slide water slide – our family never owned one primarily because it was a big waste of water. The few times I got to try one at a friend’s back yard party, I got brush burns when I careened off the slide onto the yard. Another time I slipped and landed on my coccyx. That hurt for days.
And I remember the painful feeling of every little rock that was formerly buried deep underground but suddenly worked to the surface when the grass became matted down with a sheet of yellow plastic and water. I don’t care, they are still fun.
Trolls – A supposed waste of money, so I did not own one. I envied those who did. Trolls were cute because they were so ugly. I once got a mini troll with pink hair from a bubble gum machine. That was as close as I ever got to the Holy Grail or the Geller Cup if you will.