My walking buddy was telling me the joys and frustrations of playing her new Sims 2 Deluxe, creating new dysfunctional families and trying to move them out of their starter homes into more palatial digs. We both grew tired of the original Sims game quite awhile back.
Why do fiftyish women like the Sims? Mostly because we like building the houses. We hoped that her Sims 2 would have better kitchen counters and other choices.
As we walked into Borders Bookstore, I had a flashback to a similar amusement in the precomputer era. There in the gifts and cards department was an address book by Paperchase. On its cover was a picture of my Irwin Interior Decorator Set.
Obviously, the House Plan Design set had some fans back in the Sixties for it to show up on this trendy retro nostalgia object. I loved arranging rooms with my set, but the neighbor girls made fun of it. The set wasn't really a toy or a dollhouse. It didn't require batteries or show up on tv ads. My dad probably picked it up from the clearance table at the Toy Castle. Also, the set was one of those open-ended playthings that my mom preferred to provide for creativity, unlike the limiting effect of Chatty Cathy's simplistic phrases. It required fine motor skills and tolerance for frustration when walls and floors didn't always fit together as well as one would hope.
[Chatty Cathy was sold by Mattel from 1959-1966, and spoke fewer than twenty phrases when you pulled her string. The Interior Decorator Set dates from 1964, and had "1000 and 1 interchangeable combinations featuring House and Garden coordinated colors." ]
My sister and I had the living, dining, and bathroom sets. We craved the bedroom and kitchen sets shown in the instruction pamphlet.
Since I happened to know which box in my closet still held the Interior Decorator Set, I put a few rooms together. It was fun and a bit frustrating, and totally in style today! Well, except for the minty green bathroom fixtures...
© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder