Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Zoo Animals

Ari & I played a lot when we were kids. We went through what was probably a very long phase where one of our favorite things to do was to play with zoos. I’m not certain if the animals were a reason to build with unit blocks or if unit blocks were a reason to play with animals, but eventually the two of them became inseparable. We built block zoos and arranged the animals. A few of the animals had names and distinct personalities. They would go off on their own and have adventures outside the zoos.

 

I remember there was a love affair between a deer named (surprise!) Bambi and a dinosaur/ toad named Green ‘Orts. Bambi cried about everything. Green ‘Orts saved her. I remember there was a tyrannosaurus rex made of Bakelite who was the nurse. She took care of all the injured animals in the zoo. Most of them were also made of Bakelite, including a cow named Nilsie who went from having (possibly) three legs to having no legs over the course of some years. There were two lionesses named Miss In-the-Way. They habitually lay down in front of doorways when ever anyone wanted to go anywhere, and, of course, being lionesses, it was a bit tricky passing them. At first, the hundred-so animals were divided up each time we played with them, but eventually the division of animals was finalized and we kept our animals in separate trucks when we were not using them. The animals had a drawer in which they were supposed to be stored, but all that was left in the drawer were dead presidents, soldiers, and a few Indians.

 

Because the animals were so small, they were easy to take places. It was during the time when Dad liked to sailboard. Ari and I would play while he was out in the water. We had a favorite playing tree at Fair Haven Beach on Lake Ontario. It had two extremely thick trunks, one of which was falling over enough that I could walk up it more and more, year after year, until the year they took it down and I was so sad I would not play anywhere near the area anymore. In between the trunks there was a cavity, perfect for making homes for small animals. We took animals there at least once. I would not remember this, except—

 

It was the next year. Ari and I went back to play in the tree. The trunk was more walkable, the cavity was vast. It was the last year of the tree. We were playing in the cavity, and there was Prancy. She was a favorite of mine. She was a white mare. Her black mane and tail blew wild in the breeze, her head was lifted high. And there she was, in the cavity, still there. She had been missing a long time. Her coat was dingy with dirt and there was a slash across her chest. Her flesh dangled, loose. But she still held her head high. Her mane blew in the breeze. We took her home.

 

Following is a photo of all the animals and people. The seven-pound box sold quickly on eBay. Spread out, they comprise about one square yard. I did not think they would sell, figuring they were too well-loved for anyone else to want, but they sold within a few hours. We put a low price on them. I hope whomever purchases them makes them work hard.

 

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Prancy is visible in the upper-left quadrant, near the top, below a black horse and to the right of a lion who is just below a red milkmaid at the very top of the photo.

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