Toys of yesteryear: How we made dolls, tops and toy guns.
By CS Wan
Today, as I watch my grandchildren play with their Barbie dolls and battery-operated trains, they bring back memories of the toys, my siblings and I used to play with when we were kids.
In the early 1950s, we stayed in the Residential Area in Kuala Pilah and like most kids in the neighbourhood we usually made our own toys. The toys were fashioned from discarded materials, recycled items or sourced from plants that were found in our neighbourhood.
I remember, my sisters used to play with dolls that were made from the remnant of fabric. They would roll two pieces of rectangular cloth and tie the two pieces of rolled cloth together with a thread to form a cross. The dresses for the dolls were then fashioned from the remnant of other fabric.
While my sisters played with their dolls, my brother and I would play with our tops and toy guns. I remember our first top was made from an areca nut. The head of a nail was cut off with a pair of pliers and then the nail was hammered into the bottom end of an areca nut. Later, we learned how to make more 'sophisticated' tops from the branch of a guava tree.
Other than tops, we also made toy guns from bamboo which we sourced from a hedge that ringed the teachers' quarters. Once the 'guns' were ready, a 'gun-fight' would ensue, with my sisters joining in the fun. Above the sound of boisterous shouts, laughter and pops, there came a more audible voice from a nearby kitchen.
"Kena mata, baru tau." ( It'll get your eyes, then you'll know).
Mother's warning just fell on deaf ears,as we continued on with our games.
Here is a brief instructions on how to construct the bamboo gun
1. A hollow bamboo stem
2. A solid bamboo stick
3. Berries ( buah cenarai) or newspaper
1. Get a thin, hollow bamboo stem about 30cm long.
2. Get a solid bamboo stem about 40cm long that can fit perfectly into the hole or get a solid bamboo rod and whittle it to the correct size.
3. Get a hollow bamboo about 10cm long and make a handle for the rod. Make sure the top end of the handle has a knot.
4. Place a berry ( buah cenarai) at one end of the hollow stem and with the top end of the handle, gently tap it in.
5. With the end of the rod push the berry (buah cenarai) slightly into the hollow bamboo. Withdraw the rod slightky and then give it a hard push.
The berry will come out at the other end of the hollow bamboo with a big ’pop’.
6. If berries are not available, you can use old newspaper. Soak small pieces of the paper in water and then roll them into small balls.
Hope to post another article on toys of yesteryear..
Until then thanks for visiting this blog.