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During another pandemic, a toy to bring joy

This year has seen much tragedy with the COVID-19 pandemic, but at other points in our history we have seen bright moments at this time of year even in the midst of similar pain.

The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed more than an estimated 50 million1 of the world's population. In that year, the Armistice was finally reached to end The Great War, World War I.

But there was an exciting new toy for good boys and girls that year as well.In 1916 and 1917, John Lloyd Wright had been helping his father, the famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, to construct the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan. As part of its earthquake-proof design, the hotel's foundation used interlocking wooden beams. John envisioned a scaled-down version of the same concept as an innovative twist on the traditional wooden building blocks which were a long-time favorite children's toy.

In 1918, John began marketing toy construction sets containing miniature notched wooden beams. The Lincoln Logs could be stacked to build cabins, forts, and other rustic structures designed by imaginative youngsters.In the late 1950's when Santa brought mine, a box of the miniature logs and roofing planks was priced at $2.00 at Mr. Peggy Young's Ben Franklin "dime store." Today, an unopened, unused vintage set is offered for $90 on one e-commerce website.

Mine have been well used, first by my sister, Libby, and me, then by my sons, and most recently by my grandchildren. Happy times for all.

Today our Hickman County Historical and Genealogical Society meets socially distanced and masked in Mr. Peggy's store building at the green awning on the Court Square, and we wish all the readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

1Taubenberger, Jeffery K, and David M Morens. "1918 Influenza: the mother of all pandemics." Emerging infectious diseases vol. 12,1 (2006): 15-22. doi:10.3201/eid1201.050979

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