LINCOLN — Dancing gorillas, chattering teeth, jumping owls, rolling hamburgers, a climbing panda and a Mickey Mouse that strolls. What do they all have in common?
They’re wind-up toys — a cultural relic of childhoods past.
In an era where digital games, like Angry Birds and Diner Dash, dominate the minds of many children, the Lincoln Library is paying homage to the centuries-old wind-up toy. For the months of May and June, more than 200 miniature, wind-up toys are on display in the Lincoln library, some of which date back to the early 1900s.
At the library last Thursday afternoon, librarian Debi Gray and assistant Marcia Jimmo were in high spirits as they wound and clicked their way through a half hour, watching the clockwork motor toys dance around.
The large collection of wind-up toys actually belongs to Jimmo’s grandson, but Jimmo and her husband, Roger, have kept them safe for years. Now that their grandson is a teenager, he doesn’t have any use for the toys, said Jimmo. So, she decided to take the collection out of its resting place in an old box and bring the little automatons back to life under the lights of the town library.
The Jimmos acquired the collection more than six years ago, when a friend of Roger’s, who asked to remain unnamed, left his staff job at Middlebury College to travel the country. He gave the Jimmos his prized wind-up toy collection. Afraid that their grandson might break the toys, the Jimmos have preserved them for years.
While most of the collection is comprised of unique wind-ups, many others came from McDonald’s Happy Meals from long ago.
Gray said the colorful collection shouldn’t bother readers too much since it’s behind a closed door.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected]