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Evel Knievel and How He Helped Me Remember My Childhood

Evel KnievelI recently attended the American Association for State and Local History’s annual meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota.  As a museum geek, I always love the opportunity to visit and explore museums in other cities. Museums serve to inspire, delight, educate, challenge, and transport us…and that is exactly what the Minnesota Historical Society did for me. As a child of the 1970s, the TOYS of the 50s, 60s, and 70s exhibit skillfully transformed me back to 1974 in my family’s living room playing with the Evel Knievel play set my brother Matt got for Christmas– definitely the most coveted gift that year.Mattel Football game

It was incredible to see so many toys from my own childhood and feel the memories flood back.  In my view, when a museum exhibit evokes an emotional response from visitors, the curators have truly outdone themselves.  As the crowd rounded each corner and encountered another long-forgotten favorite toy -- the Pet Rock, the Troll dolls, the Mattel Classic Football hand-held game, the GI Joe Big Trapper set, and the ever-messy, always fun Creepy Crawlers kit – the “oh’s” and “ah’s” kept flowing. The memories --  the feelings of happiness and anger – came rushing through at an alarming rate! 

I connected with my own history, my own sense of self, and how my suburban upbringing in Overland Park with my two sisters and three brothers. I quickly posted images on Facebook, tagging my brother Matt, and the wave of likes and comments came pouring in. These toys represented our childhood. They speak to our generation.  And how we all loved them! I’d love to hear about your favorite toys and memories from childhood. Leave a comment.

Mindi Love, Museum Director

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