When I was a kid I had a little wagon that I had rescued from the garbage heap. I used it to sometimes pull my little brother around, would once in a while tote my sister's dolls once around the yard...mostly it was used to pull up and down the street to retrieve pop bottles, to be redeemed for candy at the Norcross Grocery.
But I never had a Radio Flyer...the Cadillac of little red wagons. My folks were so poor even I knew enough not to wish, or ask for such a marvelous thing. I might ask for Roy Rogers guns and holsters but nothing so fine as a Radio Flyer. I had come across a few Radio Flyers in my childhood and could only stand frozen in awe as one rolled by. Radio Flyers were incredibly strong, had solid rubber rimmed wheels and a pulling tongue serious about hauling a load. You could put three six year olds in that wagon, lift that tongue and you knew the Radio Flyer was ready to roll, handling the load with ease, wheels spinning smoothly and quietly.
There were two toys that one dreamed would be under the Christmas tree some fantastic morning; a Lionel Train set or a Radio Flyer...but only in your wildest dreams...you didn't dare even contemplate owning either in the stark reality of daytime.
And wonder of wonders!..the Radio Flyer was probably the first "unitoy", an equal opportunity toy lusted after by both girls and boys! I once saw a little girl coming down the sidewalk, her Radio Flyer hauling her entire doll collection...and I nearly cried at the waste of such a fine conveyance.
A kid could head out on a Saturday morning, Radio Flyer equipped, and come home that afternoon with interesting rocks, scraps of balsa wood from a toy airplane, broken roller skates whose wheels would work on your home made box scooter, a bunch of purple violets to placate mom...an abject apology for sticky fingers from the lingerings of a Sugar Daddy and a pack of Neccos. Or, for a nickel, you could haul the old ladies trash to the alley with that trusty Radio Flyer.
Nowadays, kids don't spend much time outside. They are too busy exploring Star Wars on a gaming machine to explore the grand world outside. Radio Flyers have now been jazzed up with digital consoles and bright whirligigs to attract the easily bored. That seems incredibly sad to me.
Most of the Radio Flyers I see these days are in some elderly fellow's antique toy collection...or in some old lady's back yard where she uses it to move her potted plants from here to there.
But hope lingers...last Christmas I sent my grandson a little red wagon, along with a book about little read wagons...and the reliable word came back that he was thrilled with it....
Life is good..and even better as Christmas nears...an early Merry Christmas to all!