As a child, I didn’t think I had as many toys as I’d have liked to have had, but I know now that they were more than what the other kids had. We were a peripatetic family that bounced around a fair bit. Then, it’d be Shillong. Then, it’d be Mbabane.
And each time we moved, I’d pack all my toys with meticulous care, always ensuring that none was left behind in the mêlée of relocation. After I reached adolescence, I lost interest in playing with them. But they still stayed close, in my room, as decorative pieces. I didn’t bin them.
When I was still older, I stowed all my childhood treasures in big cardboard boxes. When I moved oversees, I don’t know what happened to them. Did they get tossed out onto the streets? Were they sold to a pawn shop?
Because they’ve been out of sight, off and on, in moments of sweet sentimentality, they move to the foreground of my mind. Yet, they remain beyond reach.
The only place other than my memory, where I could find them was Google. So, I summoned the search engine to rummage through its nearly limitless well of snaps to fish out my order: not my entire collection, with its jumble of faded scrapbooks, antique Hot-Wheels cars, “Star Wars” action figures, stickers, remote-controlled trains, and other odds and ends, but one thing in particular.
I didn’t have much to go on with other than the make of the toy. I was looking for a Fisher-Price dump truck in canary-yellow and parrot-green and its Lilliputian operator, a blue coverall-wearing worker in an orange hard hat.
Google found them. Oh, what joy, I felt. One of my earliest toys was now vintage merchandise, I learned, being sold as a rare find on Etsy and eBay.
Today, it sounds like a science-fictional vision, but not too far out in the future, it’d may be possible to have Google deliver the computational designs of objects lost to history. We could feed them into 3D printers, take “printouts” of our cherished souvenirs and mementos, and retrieve pieces of our past.