It Takes a (Fisher Price Play Family) Village

The gift I’d wished the hardest for in 1974–the Fisher Price Play Family Village.

My parents captured many Christmas morning photographs when I was young, but this one from 1974 is a little unusual. Most of our Christmas photos are candids taken in the midst of our present-opening frenzy. In this one, I’m pausing to pose in front of a half-unwrapped gift. The smile on my face shows how happy I was to uncover that gift–the Fisher Price Play Family Village.

Fisher Price began producing the Village in 1973. At age 6, I longed for it as intensely as I would long for the Barbie Star Traveler a few years later. I’d loved Play Family toys since I was a toddler, and the Village was the ultimate play set, with a fire station, police station, dentist’s office, apartment, restaurant, theater, garage, and more.

I’ve been wanting to acquire a Village for years, but finding a complete one at a price I was willing to pay proved difficult. Finally, about a month ago, I was able to add this toy to my collection.

I wanted to share a few pictures of it, simply because its colorful lithography and smiling people make me happy. As much as I enjoy nostalgia, I try not to fall into the trap of pining for a simpler time. In 1974, our country was dealing with Watergate, continued involvement in Vietnam, and an oil embargo–things were anything but simple. But a toy like Play Family Village transports me to a time when my parents still stood between me and the outside world’s troubles, and daily life seemed almost as uncomplicated as a walk down Play Family Main Street.

Play Family Matters

When I was about four, I walked with my mom to a nearby store. I can still remember walking home, up a hill, carrying a large box, and bursting with excitement. For no special reason at all, my mom had bought me the Fisher Price Play Family School that day.

Play Family toys were among my favorites. Besides the School, I had the House and the Houseboat. When I was five, Santa brought me the wonderful Play Family Village, which included a firehouse, dental office, theater, post office, police station, barber shop, garage, restaurant, and telephone booth.

I don’t have any of my old Fisher Price toys, but my husband has picked up some vintage structures at flea markets and yard sales. My daughter, who is nine, still enjoys playing with them now and then. Today, she set up a Play Family city around the living room rug.

Here’s how our little people spent Labor Day.

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