The favorite toy for a child can shift depending upon age and interests. My great obsession at four was not what grabbed my attention at six. But toys can influence later interests.
I can testify to my family’s “wet” nature on maternal and paternal sides. There are grain merchants, seamen, marine engineers, carvers, and privateers. So it was no wonder that I was given a boat, what you might call a Pond Yacht these days.
My grandfather’s heart condition had ruled out a career afloat, so he ran a family business and crafted unique miniature ships and boats. I think my father bought me a toy boat because my cousins had inherited the models and mercilessly played with them until little was left but matchsticks. My boat was a small cabin cruiser similar to the one my grandfather made. It ran on a battery-powered motor but was not radio-controlled. In those days, radio control was the province of people much better to do than we were. So I controlled mine by adjusting the rudder, and if needed, hauling it back in with a string.
My father and I were pretty regular attendees at ponds, and being that I was only about six, my father did the wading in if the string broke, and the boat went rogue. Eventually, the boat got lost in water too deep to wade in, and we spent an entire afternoon circling, hoping that it would find its way back to us.
After that, the only small boat in the house was a simple toy tug boat that my grandfather had carved for his two boys. As the sole remaining member of my grandfather’s fleet, I could not play with it.
I’ve always felt that my boat and my grandfather’s fleet – A cabin cruiser, passenger liner, Great White Fleet style battleship, and the tug boat influenced my later interests in hand-carved ships and boats.
These interests surfaced years later. A deep ocean swell gradually surfaced and influenced these past thirty-two years.