I asked my three kids – two are college age and one is almost fourteen years old – if they could choose anywhere to visit one last time before we move to Ireland, what would it be? They were unanimous. They could have chosen Mall of America, any of the numerous museums they’ve enjoyed, either of the two zoos, or anywhere else… I left the question entirely open ended. They chose Lark Toys.
I love Lark Toys, so this made me happy! I selected it as our “final destination” for my Little Free Library Book Tour. Before I share our special day with you, I want to take a trip down memory lane. Here’s my family at Lark Toys in 2004. Sorry for the strange gray blobs in the photo – this picture was taken when we were standing with a field trip group. I removed all but my own family, as it would have been confusing otherwise. From left to right: Brent holding baby Savannah, Cassie, little Nicholas wearing a pirate hat for some reason (I don’t remember this at all!), and me on the end.
This was taken on the same day. Nicholas is having a blast on the carousel. Remember this little face – you’ll see him on this same carousel further down this page, now that he’s 18 and ready for college!
I could keep going with this old family photos – we’ve been to Lark Toys many times throughout the years. We have truly loved it! It is a magical and special place that we’ll always treasure in our hearts. It was a bittersweet experience, visiting Lark Toys one last time before we leave the United States for Ireland in December. But we had a wonderful time and I even got to meet the owner of Lark Toys, Ron Gray. I was able to tell him how much his place has meant to our family.
Of course I gave him some books from my Little Free Library Book Tour!
Here’s how our wonderful day was at Lark Toys. Try to visit Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota. It truly is a special place!
OH WOW! They have a new attraction! This was definitely not at Lark Toys the last time we were there. I guess it landed while we were busy with our own TARDIS adventure. Well, if you’ve been following our family, you’ll know that we were excited to find a Doctor Who presence at Lark Toys! This was must unexpected!
Does the Doctor need a companion? I have experience!
These are DALEKS from Doctor Who, but speaking of robots, my son Nicholas used to have this white and black contemporary robot toy (on the far right in the photo below). It had a “dancing” mode that was hilarious.
Cassie pointed out the pregnant Barbie doll. I noticed the vintage Sesame Street characters. I so love Sesame Street! I had a View Master. I never liked those. They were always disappointing. I guess I wanted it to do something more. It was hard to click through the slides without the card getting stuck. Or maybe that’s just me…
Who from Gen X didn’t have Lincoln Logs? In my opinion, those were another disappointing toy. We could only build log cabins with them. Nonetheless, I wish I had a set now! I’d make a cabin. They weren’t much good at anything else. Remember the red plastic triangle roof pieces? Memories! LEGOs changed everything… that was my son’s world (and still is!).
I love looking at these strange vintage metal toys. I’m sorry for so many blurry photos. My awesome camera DIED right before we got to Lark Toys, ugh! We think it might just be the lens – I hope! Some shots are better than others. I also copied some that the kids took.
I remember that Bambi book! I loved it because it was shaped like Bambi’s head. The pages were surprisingly fragile and soft, which fascinated me. I also remember playing with that Fisher Price school house but I don’t think it was mine. It may have belonged to my dear cousin Jennifer. Jennifer passed away in her sleep from diabetic complications when she was thirty years old. Oh how I miss her! I have fond memories of playing together when we were kids. See what I mean? Lark Toys is a magical place. It brings us back to when we were young, we see toys that our parents and grandparents had, and those of us with children relive the happy memories of when our own kids were little. We think about those we miss, we remember days gone by… and by taking the journey backward, we have renewed strength to go forward.
The carousel is fabulous – the animals are original handcrafted works of art! I tried to capture all of them, but I was using my inferior camera since my good one died while I was taking pictures of Lake Pepin on the way up.
Instead of the bunny he chose the gnome & dragon. Instead of a black pirate hat he’s wearing a black guitar shirt. But, it’s the same kid – same smile, same wave to Mommy. Aww, see why we love Lark Toys?
I didn’t have this one… but it reminds me of something my friend Kelly said. Happy Days was playing in the background while she was cleaning and she heard that it was Howard Cunningham’s birthday. Howard was turning the same age as Kelly. Kelly shared the miserable knowledge that those of us who are Class of ’87 are now the same age as Richie Cunningham’s PARENTS.
Ha ha! This is a game called “The Exciting Game of Career Girls” from 1966. The choices were limited (stewardess, ballerina, etc.), and the bad luck cards included things like “You are overweight” or “You are clumsy”. The cards went on to helpfully point out which careers these unfortunate traits would be bad for. There were good cards to, that rewarded for learning how to apply make-up or for being pretty. Wow, Just wow. My girls were transfixed (and horrified!). Note: my college daughter is graduating with a Math degree, with honors. Take that, Career Girls!
I had a record player similar to this one. My favorite song was “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Brent has the full sized album and Nicholas digitized the song for me. I want to frame the original vintage record cover and put it in my new work space in Ireland. The girl who longed to live near the sea (like the boy and his dragon) will be living near the sea!!! Funny – my brother’s favorite record was “Rhinestone Cowboy” and they were playing it while we were at Lark Toys. I can still hear him playing that song… over and over… and over
My grandpa used to make little wooden toys for the great grandkids. I was already too old by the time he started doing this. I was the first granddaughter. My grandparents still had kids living at home when I was born. I mostly got the coffee can full of broken crayons to play with. 🙂 There was an odds and ends box with strange little toys and animals. It was great fun digging through it to see if anything good was in there. I usually found a treasure if I had enough patience to keep digging…. but I had to get past the smell of crayons. To this day, I hate the smell of crayons.
Oh… this reminds me of when I was wearing my beautiful white “fur” coat to school. Mom had given me red Kool Aid for breakfast. Or maybe it was Hi-C. I can’t stand either. Anyway, well. I was nauseous from the bus ride, or I was sick… doesn’t matter. The story ends with red vomit all over my favorite coat. I’ve never forgotten that pretty coat and I’ve never forgiven the red “juice” that ruined my coat!
Ooh, there’s one of those creepy porcelain dolls with the cracked face. I used to play with those at my grandmother’s house. I was told to be very careful and I never quite understood why. The face was already cracked and broken – what difference did it make? But I was gentle. I didn’t play with dolls long. I preferred the Noah’s Ark set.
How appropriate for a book tour to end up at a beautiful book store! This area of Lark Toys has always been one of our favorite parts — the books and educational section. And this is usually where our kids found something to buy… This time it was Savannah who found something too exciting to resist.
Savannah wants to be a midwife. She’s been studying biology, nursing and psychology. She thinks this visible woman is amazing…you have to build it yourself – even paint it – and it comes with a fetus to place inside the uterus. She’d learn the body parts and the organs. It’s educational… so you see.. well, here she is at the checkout counter with Daddy’s wallet open. 🙂
Now get good grades, Savannah. We got you that “Visible Woman” from Lark Toys so you should be all set now. 🙂
Note: She opened it up as soon as we got home. She LOVES this kit! It is very involved so she’ll be able to enjoy it for weeks. VERY pleased! She’s going to take it apart so that it fits in a small bag so that she can bring it to Ireland in her suitcase.
The Doctor Who section
Brent is razzing me about the ant farm. I did NOT enjoy that experience when Cassie wanted to do the ant farm. Let’s just say that I didn’t read the directions where is said that you should put the ants in the fridge first so that they are “inactive”. I dumped the vial and the ants marched right UP my arm, all over me… and well, I freaked and killed the ants. Cassie made a Dramatic Mom comic about it.
Toys and candy go well together!
Leaving Lark Toys in Kellogg, MN…and when I get home, I’ll take a closer look at this –!
Hmm… I saw Brent with this bag in one of the gift shops. I think I might know what he bought me. I’m not sure. He says he’ll save it for Christmas. But he really shouldn’t be leaving it around. Stay tuned – I’ll update this when I find out what it is!
Well, it was a beautiful, wonderful, magical day. I was sorry to see it end. But all good stories must come to an end. And today we lived “Happily Ever After”! Thank you, Lark Toys, for bringing your love and vision to this special place where families like mine can enjoy your fabulous things, and each other. We’ve watched our kids grow up at Lark. It was the perfect “last place” to visit. Thank you!