Peter White, far right, talks about his toy collection of pre-World War II wind-ups during an El Dorado Hills Senior Center event. Village Life photo by Noel Stack

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Seniors tinker with toys

By From page B4 | December 19, 2012

Fond memories of zipping up and down the street on a bicycle, playing with dolls and enjoying pretend tea brought smiles to local seniors’ faces Tuesday as toy collector Peter White gave a presentation at the El Dorado Hills Senior Center.

White, proprietor of White House Railway and Trading Co. in Fair Oaks, showed off pre-World War II toys — a Marx Joy Line Train, Schoenhut circus figures and more — as well as one of the most famous toys in the world — a Red Ryder BB gun. “I slept with my Daisy Red Ryder BB gun,” White confessed. “You never know when you’re going to be attacked!”

The collector spoke affectionately about his collection and about toy making in the early 20th century. “In our day we had to use our imagination,” White said. “Now we have kids who text everything.”

Toy manufacturers created a lot of wind-up toys (no batteries) and pre-war used a lot of tin and lead. His wife Nancy collects lead figurines, which, he noted, are scaled perfectly to fit in some of his train sets.

The couple’s Fair Oaks home boasts a train room and a toy room. “We’re running out of room,” Peter confessed. “I just don’t believe in sticking stuff in boxes. I like it out so you can enjoy it.”

After his presentation, Peter asked the two dozen people in the audience to recall their favorite childhood toys.

Senior Center Recreation Supervisor said she still has her first Barbie. Others nostalgically talked about their bikes, erector sets and Teddy bears. El Dorado Hills resident Betty Hatwit shared the story of her favorite Toni Doll. Sadly, she said, her sister dipped the doll’s head in paint and though her parents cleaned up the mess using paint thinner, “She was never the same.”

Noel Stack


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