Dana Macafeeca. 1940

The Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong National Museum of Play

Long before international conglomerates made mass-produced toys available to children everywhere, some lucky kids enjoyed playing with handcrafted toys made by doting fathers. The wooden toys and vehicles of simple design but sturdy construction were especially loved by kids and prized by educators and child-development specialists of the early twentieth century who thought the very simplicity of the toys encouraged kids to use their imaginations more. Into the twentieth century, craftsmen continued to construct simple wooden toys that ironically represented the increasingly sophiticated, motor-powered vehicles, tools, and equipment of an mechanized world. One such toy maker, Dana (Jack) Macafee, made several wooden toys for his son Kent in the 1940s. An industrial arts teacher in the Rochester school system, Jack Macafee followed instructions from articles in "Popular Mechanics" magazine for a roadster and a tractor with trailer he made, and he improvised creations of his own design to make a fire truck with a crank-operated ladder and battery-powered lights; a fire pumper with a working hose; a spring-loaded miniature BB gun on a tripod; and a wooden rifle with metal barrel and a "pop" mechanism. He also converted a mass-produced, plastic model of a Cadillac sedan into a vehicle that was battery powered by remote control to move forward and backwards and to steer left and right. The talents of his dad and the toys of his youth made an impression on Kent Macafee: he too became a teacher of industrial arts and taught woodworking, among other things, in the Webster school system for many years.

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  • Title: Automobile
  • Creator: Dana Macafee
  • Date Created: ca. 1940
  • Location: USA
  • Subject Keywords: home craft, automobile
  • Type: Transportation Toys
  • Medium: plastic, metal, wood
  • Credit Line: Gift of Kent Macafee in memory of Dana John (Jack) Macafee


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