I spent my early years on Mercer Island which is in the middle of Lake Washington east of Seattle. Each summer, first weekend of August would be the climax of Seafair: Thy hydroplane races. Back then it was the Gold Cup – I think they have that somewhere else now.
For the week before the races everyone on the Island could hear the roar of the engines as the hydros raced to qualify. Back then the farorite was SloMo which is now housed in the Museum of History and Industry. They didn’t have the pontoon type bodies that they have now, nor the cowling to protect the driver – just a windshield.
As kids, we used to get a nice flat piece of wood – longer than it was wide and nail another piece of wood on top to be the cockpit. Then we would put a nail in the front, attach a piece of string and tie it to our bikes. All the kids in the neigborhoods had hydro’s attached to their bikes around the first week of August, and they rode the asphalt about like they rode the waves in the lake. By the time School started the strings had all broke or they had fallen off, but next year we would all build another one. Funny how a couple of pieces of wood and a couple of nails held the attention of hundreds of kids as we rode our bikes around the neighborhood.
I was reading a toy catalog the other day and it was a pretty good one as toy catalogs go – lots of imaginative toys. I was struck with the description of a castle that contained a dragon which was described as having “real life like sounds” Where is the imagination in that! Aren’t kids supposed to supply the real life like sounds as their imaginations gives them forth? I remember the boys in the neighboring yard playing for what seemed hours with their plastic army men ( and probably jeeps and tanks) You knew they were playing because you could hear them making the “real life like noises” little boys imagine that army men and jeeps and tanks make.
I notice that my nieces and nephews don’t really know how to pretend. They are so enmeshed in TV culture, when you force them to turn off the TV, they don’t know what to do with themselves. They would never be amused with a homemade hydro flying through the waves behind their bikes.