Sixth grade was a new start to everything; for one thing, I met a new best friend who would remain that way for nearly the rest of my life. We were inseparable, and our adventures were legendary. Some of our adventure were almost Hardy Boys style, albeit very stupid. One of such involved tracking down a very dangerous older kid whom the police were looking for as he'd stabbed someone. The reason we did it is long, but we did. Fortunately for us, we never found him.
My teacher was Mrs. Bishop, and she was a great teacher. I enjoyed her strong southern accent, though I can't remember exactly where she was from now. She was definitely a no-foolishness teacher with a strong no-foolishness policy, and confiscated enough toys and articles of candy to open her own store.
I had just purchased the new Aurora model "The Chamber of Horrors Guillotine" . I had also made the tragic mistake of taking it to school with me after its completion. For any of you that may remember this model, you could actually chop off the head of the victim tied down to the platform. This was great fun at home, thrilling in the school yard, but during sixth grade English, it was just plain foolish.
The plastic head flew off, and rolled across the floor. The teacher's eyes went right to it. Forget about the fact that I was scurrying across the floor like a rat trying to chase it down. Forget even that the whole class had turned to see what was more interesting than past tense verb conjugation. It seemed that perhaps I should have been beheading my prisoner during history, because I was then prompted by the teacher to give an factual lecture on the history of the guillotine for the entire class.
"The history? Well...I've had it for about two weeks."
The guillotine went home with me that day, accompanied by a note from the Principal for my parents to call the school. He was concerned by my bringing such a "morbid toy" to school. Thankfully, my mom thought he was ridiculous, and told him so.
Girls were indeed an interesting phenomenon. They were creatures of mystery that baffled, bewildered, and confounded us guys to no end. They had their own culture-and with the exception of Tomboys-they were really pretty much unaccepted in our manly circle.
When they weren't trying their best to get on my bad side, I always felt kind of sorry for girls; they were pitiful creatures who hadn't the benefit of proper education when it came to military tactics or the building of a street go kart. Girls played with dolls and tea sets, and were unconcerned with the important things in life such as great model cars, toy guns that fired caps, or the quality of a decent headlock.
Girls did not engage in reckless activity for the heck of it, nor did they get into fistfights (well, most of them didn't). They never had belching or over-eating contests. In short, girls were no fun. That was until sixth grade; suddenly these beguiling creatures became much more important. Instead of having about five girls in particular who annoyed me in class, there were at least five in particular who made me sit up and take notice. My first TV crush was on Patty Duke
On the day that I'd saved enough money to buy one of these sets, "Georgy Girl" by The Seekers was a hit song on the radio. I can't hear that song today without thinking about my "Thingmaker" . The smell of the plastigoop bubbling was unforgettable. You could also mix the colors and make swirls and get wild color blends. This set came equipped with neon colored hair and a paper cut-out wardrobe for the Peeple.
I later got the "Fright Factory" set, but it wasn't as great. It seemed like it would be the ultimate, considering my love for monsters and horror movies. It was however, a "grave" disappointment. The creations were too goofy looking. The box was better than the whole kit. I also had creepy crawlers which wasn't much better. For me, the Creeple Peeple set was the best set to have. It made real toys, tangible creatures that lived on a pencil.
Matchbox Cars became a sweet obsession. I collected them and had an almost complete set. I lose track now of just how many there were. My first ever Matchbox Car was the Airport Crash Tender. On the day that I bought it at Newberry's toy basement, I'd been watching "Family Affair" on TV, and listening to "Up, Up and Away" on the car radio on the way to Eastport Plaza. My three favorite Matchbox Cars were the Crash Tender, the London Bus, and the BP Exploration truck. The latter, a white, 6-wheeled vehicle that looked as if it might be aquatic, was perhaps, my all-time favorite.