In Casselberry, in the late '80s, my four-, five-, six-year-old self loved plunging his hands into a rectangular plastic wastebasket filled with toy figurines and cars. Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Camaros, a Lamborghini, and a car wash set and a racetrack that hooked up on one end of a table, and letting the car go at the top, hoping it would build speed fast enough to race through the loop-the-loop on the other end. All with so much to love, though in hindsight, no clue why.
I guess it was the young American boy thing to do, probably the same reason I had a collection of baseball cards in a binder, though I liked basketball much more. I also read Motor Trend when I was eight and nine, but I don't think I was looking at and admiring specs and engines. Maybe just the cars themselves, the shapes, the style.
On the second-to-most-recent trip to Las Vegas, I returned to that little boy form, in a different aspect. We spent a lot of time in Henderson, deciding even then if that's where we wanted to live, exploring the area, seeing what fit and what didn't. We stopped at a Smith's supermarket, and I walked around in awe because it felt like a neighborhood supermarket should. It felt like people cared about what they bought, whereas at a Ralphs or Vons here, people just grab what they need on an errand, throw it into the cart, zoom right into the checkout lane, pay for it, and zoom right out. At that Smith's, it felt like people took their time to shop, to buy what they truly wanted, what would fulfill them.
It was also a supermarket of unusual sights, namely a circular display outside one aisle filled with toy cars and trucks. Toy aisles at Ralphs and Vons are perfunctory and brief, filled with cheap crap to buy only when you're heading to a birthday party that you really don't want to go to, and you have to bring something.
Here were cars, VW Beetles, school buses. I looked at all of them, picked a few up, not for nostalgia's sake, but out of curiosity, because I still have that part of me. I discovered that my taste for cars had been replaced by working vehicles: School buses, ice cream trucks, street cleaners, daycare transports, moving vans and trucks, anything with a daily purpose.
At that display, I found a flour truck, dark brown at the front, lighter brown in the back, with doors that open on each side, and light peach-colored bags of flour that are highest at the top, and seem to have tumbled toward the bottom. On the left and right side of where the bags of flour are held, the logo of the "Diamond Flour Co." is stamped, and each side says, "Good Quality & Good Service." It was probably about six or seven dollars and I bought it. I wanted it as a reminder of a good place, and to start a collection of working vehicles.
That collection grew by five at Target in Valencia on Friday night. While Mom and Meridith looked at styluses for the Nintendo DS (since we'll need some new ones soon), I found a Curious George doll that reminded me of kindergarten at Sterling Park Elementary in Casselberry, and Mrs. Moffat let each student take home the Curious George doll for one night and bring it back the next day. At the end of the year, one of us got to take it home for good, and it wasn't me. It sure wasn't as big as the one that I picked up. I hope there is still something like that in some kindergarten classes.
After I showed it to Mom and Meridith, I put it back and then stopped at the Matchbox aisle to see if there were any airplanes, namely commercial airliners. Nothing with real-life airline logos on them since that's too specialized and it's what hobby shops and stores such as Puzzle Zoo are for, and especially "The Airplane Shop" near McCarran International in Las Vegas, which I'm jonesing to visit the next time I'm there.
Looking more closely at the packs of cars available, I spotted a five-pack with a street cleaning vehicle ("City Cleaner"), a moving truck ("Move-It"), a blue-and-green polka-dotted ice cream truck ("Polka Dot Ice Cream Co."), a daycare bus ("Child Care Learning Center"), and a red van for roadside service ("Mobile Vehicle Service"). I grabbed it, loving that I could get these five for nearly $6. I'm not sure if I'll have another plastic rectangular wastebasket filled with these kinds of vehicles, since I'm far more choosy than I was back then (If it was a car and the wheels moved, I wanted it) and I intend to treat these much more carefully.
Right now, I'm searching on Amazon for what Matchbox cars are available, and so far, there's a water truck, a garbage truck, a "Wildfire Crew Transport" truck, a dump truck, an RV camper, a dry bulk truck, a cement truck, a forklift, and a city bus I'd really like to find. And thinking about the Cheeseball Wagon food truck from the food truck festival that opened the newly refurbished Auto Row in Valencia early in the year, from which Meridith got a t-shirt, toy food trucks would be most welcome in my collection. I hope there's some enterprising minds thinking about that.