And airplanes. Not so much boats and motorcycles, though I’ve always admired them from a distance. Chalk it up to one of those things where you know you’d probably love it and have even less time and money to spend on yet another interest.
Looking back through the lens of toys, I remember my Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. I also had Micro Machines. Remember those? The commercials always had that guy who talked really, really fast and it didn’t matter what he was saying because you saw something you wanted and next time you were at the toy store (or in the toy aisles), you knew you’d be pulling every pack of them off the peg in search of the one with exactly what you were after.
These were our first car-buying experiences. We didn’t have to deal with sales managers, but financing was still frustrating at times, right? Bank of Mom & Dad didn’t always see things our way. A Matchbox car was, what, a dollar? Micro Machines, however, were three or four. A tough sell, to be sure.
Somewhere, in a box out in the garage, I have an old, wooden silverware case full of my most prized Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. Most of them are at least 25 years old – and all have been driven within inches of their lives I assure you.
Meanwhile, in a shoebox in my bedroom closet, I’ve got my old Micro Machine collection. Those came out when we were living in El Paso, Texas, I believe. Probably the second time we lived there. We did six months while Dad attended the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, then moved back after about a year in Detroit, so he could teach there.
Fort Bliss was where I got my first ride on an ATV, the classic 3-wheeler. It was in someone’s backyard on base. I forget who. The adults were drinking beer and talking on the patio, while all us (elementary and middle school-aged) kids took turns doing donuts, figure-eights, and popping wheelies in the backyard.
Clearly, this was before everyone knew those things were death traps and they were outlawed. I remember it being red and looking like it belonged in the 80s even then – in the actual 80s. Probably a Honda ATC 90 or 125. I only got to ride it a few times that summer when I was in fifth or sixth grade.
Fort Bliss was also where I first remember the real freedom of riding a bicycle. I’m pretty sure I learned to ride without training wheels in first grade, because I remember pedaling past both Dad’s black, Honda motorcycle (CB750, maybe?) and his red, Chevelle SS, both of which were gone by the time we moved to Seattle.
/note: This is very much a rough draft. I’ve got a basic outline in place, but it’s very stream-of-consciousness at this point. Thanks for bearing with me. Next installment has a bit more of a structured timeline.