Chestnut People: Playthings Of Yesteryear

It was just last week my wife and I were talking about the myriad toys that our son has. –Matchbox cars, stuffed animals, battery-powered Thomas the Tank Engine train sets & rail cars and the tracks that they run on, coloring books, storybooks, crayons and the list is exhaustive! It seems as if our child is endowed with toys. We bestow upon him perhaps in an effort to make right what wasn't ours, in our childhood. Our child virtually for naught. Just about any toy he desires, eventually he gets.

This was not the case of my wife growing up in

Poland in the '70s. There were shortages of everything! -Food, clothing, fuel, -you name it and it was either in short supply or non-existent. Except spirit and imagination! Children there had to invent their own muses.

Nature Toys and Imagination

My wife told me that one of her fondest memories was of using fallen horse chestnuts to make little dolls, -or by themselves as tokens of exchange too I guess ('how many did YOU get?') and so forth.

The inventive children would cut these chestnuts into halves or however they needed, and pin them together with round toothpicks or wood slivers to form little people, dogs and horses. Their imaginations would lead them into play.

As a child growing up in New York State, I too had access to gather hoards of horse chestnuts a few times a year, secretly stowing them in the backseat of my parent's car when we visited family graced enough to have a chestnut tree on their property. But I have never made 'chestnut people' with my cache, let alone played with anything like this.

Back home in the private sanctity of my tree house in the apple orchard, I admired the smooth beauty of each nut as if they were woody gems. Eventually though, I found myself using them as slingshot ammunition. Yeah, -I was one of those children.

But hmm, -chestnut people? I may never fully understand my Polish wife's frugal childhood but I am open to understanding the childhood inventiveness of the woman I married. I had a notion to try this myself.

Chestnuts are also called Conkers


 (image by author)

Making Chestnut People


So yesterday after picking my son up from school we stopped by a nearby chestnut grove and gathered a couple dozen specimens of fallen horse chestnuts.

(Image by author.)

Using a single-edge safety razor blade, I sliced a secant or two from some oblique-looking nuts and they looked rather like shoes, boots or feet, some, more like slippers. -They could be useful.

A single chestnut in my hoard that had a spiky crown of husk that with some help from the razor blade resembled a warrior's helmet. Another piece looked like a shield. -Ideas were being born!

I found that I needed to use a small nail held in locking pliers to pierce the hard outer skin of the chestnut else the toothpicks would shatter. This was not a problem, just a minor setback. And I began again to make little chestnut people.

(Image by author.)

Before I knew it, not only did I have several passable renditions of chestnut people but several hours of an overcast afternoon had slipped by almost without notice. Such is what happens when we use our imagination at play.

Happy CONKERing!

(image by author)

Here is a Conker Man in an Advertisement

Image Source

Article Written By thestickman

Writer, hobbyist, blogger.

Last updated on 24-07-2016 143 0

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