Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Matchbox Models of Yesteryear

So, our visit to the LeMay antique car museum down in Tacoma a few weeks back reminded me of, and made me nostalgic for, the old Matchbox 'Models of Yesteryear' cars I had as a kid. A few years back I'd seen what called itself a Matchbox Models of Yesteryear down at SeaTac Mall (now 'The Commons'), but it was clearly part of a later run, being slightly larger and also simpler than the originals I'd known. I wondered if the originals might be available online secondhand -- after all, everything else is, more or less -- but a quick check convinced me they were few and far between and wd cost an arm and a leg.

Now, revisiting it a few years later, I find from a little time poking about online, including a few exploratory dips into Ebay, that there's a lot more information available. And while mint condition in original boxes from some forty-odd years ago WILL cost you a fortune, less pristine cars can be quite reasonable (say, four or five dollars each). Not bad. A few weeks later, and I now own a not-quite random assortment of seven of the Models of Yesteryear, many the same as those I enjoyed so much so long ago.

Best of all is a 1907 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, just like my favorite of them all and the very first one I ever got, back in second grade (1966/67) either at the Blass or the Montgomery Ward (where my mother worked) in the new University Mall in Little Rock.* I think the other earliest one I had was a 1911 Maxwell Roadster, bought about the same time or a little later, which I think might have originally been my sister's that I later inherited; have to look for one of those too.

Also among these new acquisitions is a nice yellow 1913 Cadillac, another of the the early ones I got maybe around Fordyce (1967) or Jonesburo (1968) days. Too bad I wasn't able to get the little white 1909 Opal Coupe, one of the simplest cars in the series (apparently it was advertised as a doctor's car, steady and reliable).

Another favorite was the 1914 Stutz Bearcat, which was not only a beautiful car but had the neatest name ever; this one I think I got after our return to Magnolia in early 1969.

So, a lot of memories, packed into a few old toy cars. Well worth it. There are a few more I'll be on the lookout for, and I may try to get a few I didn't know about then. For example, one I picked up that I don't remember at all from the old days, though it's a good-looking car that looks vaguely familiar, is the 1909 Thomas Flyabout; this one came with a somewhat damaged roof (which is at least better than the roof's being completely missing, as with the Stutz.

We'll see.

--John R.

*recently torn down, alas, so that it's once again a huge hole in the ground, just as when I first saw it.

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