Wonderful Cardboard Boxes

By Brenda S. Brown


Our parents owned a propane company in Richland named the Stewart Webster Gas Company which in addition to distributing butane and propane tanks and fuel, they sold and repaired appliances and various kinds of apparatuses to heat and cool the home.   Most of this inventory was heavy and bulky and the new merchandise arrived during early autumn by commercial truck lines.

In those days our office was located downtown and although we had plenty of warehouse space, there was not enough room for a large delivery truck to drop a large shipment at the backdoor, so the trucks were forced to park down the street and haul the appliances on hand-trucks to the front office.  One innovative driver tried to unload the delivery in front of the building, but the local police officer convinced him not to block main street traffic ever again.

One of the advantages of your parents managing such a business is that sometimes you arrived home to discover a back yard full of wonderful empty cardboard boxes.  Empty boxes, how can that be wonderful, well it becomes remarkable when young children use their imagination and formulate them into such item as medieval castles, western forts, a giant pirate ship and mysterious caverns, or in our case, an entire village.

In a recent announcement we (those who peruse numerous internet news articles) were advised that cardboard boxes made it to the National Toy Hall of fame.  "With nothing more than a little imagination, boxes can be transformed into forts or houses, spaceships or submarines, castles or caves. Inside a big cardboard box, a child is transported to a world of his or her own, one where anything is possible."  ~ National Toy Hall of Fame

We discovered that the plain beige hue on the inside of the carton  was great background for coloring with crayons and pencils and the addition of masking tape, paper towel tubes, colorful yarn and some imagination, the boxes were transformed into structures of our dreams.  We marked the places where we wanted windows or door openings and daddy made the cutouts with a knife.  Many of our boxes had held heavy appliances so they had reinforced corners and bottoms which meant they frequently lasted for days or until the next thunderstorm.

Then, when the boxes began to tear and crumble, we dragged the largest pieces across the lawn to the steepest hill in our backyard and used them as grass sleds.  There was only one rule that I remember; once we finished destroying our boxes, we had to gather up the mess and take it to the outside trash.

According to "Movingsmartblog", children who play in cardboard boxes are exposed to such dimensions as spatial awareness, comfort and security, empowerment, and imagination, and more.  We had no idea that we our experiences were a learning occurrence, we just enjoyed the adventure.

PS-the cardboard box, when inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame back in 2005, was recognized as "The Greatest Toy Never Sold".

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