Welcome To Dirt Mountain

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For all you out there running around trying to find that perfect Christmas gift for your grandkids, kids or that big kid you’re married to, I have the perfect solution — don’t.

There’s no need to risk going out shopping. And don’t buy the newest toy that kids will play with for a week or two and discard, only for it to end up in a landfill somewhere. There is a better way.

Buy something that kids, no matter how young or old they are, will never outgrow and will never be discarded. Buy a huge mound of dirt!

We just had four yards (enough to fill five pickup trucks) delivered and dumped in our backyard. Dirt — it’s everywhere and literally dirt cheap. Get ready to have some good clean fun by getting really dirty, Dear Reader. Welcome to Dirt Mountain then and now.

Growing up back on Flamingo, us kids loved playing in a huge mound of dirt. About twenty feet back from the street, the vacant lot next to Neighbor Thomas’s house dropped off and formed a thirty-foot sandstone cliff.

After climbing halfway up the cliff face, we dug out caves to play in, and over the next few summers, the dirt pile at the foot of the cliff grew. We had dirt clod battles with each other and Down the Street Bully Brad.

As our Dirt Mountain grew, so did our courage, and soon we were jumping off the cliff into the soft pile. Okay, Bully Brad pushed us at first, but soon we were jumping on our own.

My three brothers and I played on that dirt mountain for the next four years until we moved. But jumping onto a mountain of dirt wasn’t the only way to play. We had the first Tonka trucks ever made.

The first Tonka dump truck rolled off the assembly line in the spring of 1964, and by that summer, four of those yellow trucks were working on our dirt mountain. We left Tonka trucks outside for months, and because they were constructed of 20-gauge automobile steel, they never rusted, unlike most metal toys today.

We loaded them down with the heaviest rocks, stood on them, and made little green army men drive them off the top of Cliff Condos almost daily, but they never broke. The trucks were almost indestructible! I say “almost” because Dad ran over one left out in the driveway, and the tire went flat almost instantly. Dad’s tire, not the one on the Tonka dump truck. Our mighty yellow truck was dented, but not flattened.

As soon as it was dumped in our backyard, our two granddaughters ran out and started what would be the first of many, climbs up their very own Dirt Mountain.

Watching through the window, I ordered two new yellow almost indestructible Tonka trucks. The description on the website stated “The Classic Mighty Steel Dump Truck — for kids ages 36 months to 15 years.”

I thought back on how much fun my brothers and I had with our trucks, smiled, and ordered one more. They should change the description to read “The Classic Mighty Steel Tonka Dump Truck — for kids of any age.”

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]