SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
6000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Social Shorpy

Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Daily e-mail updates:


Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Tonka Time: 1964

Tonka Time: 1964

Here I am, Christmas 1964 with my new Tonka dump truck. I vividly remember sitting in the dump bed and riding it down our sloped driveway, bending the bed sides outward. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Great picture

I got the same Tonka truck, probably at about the same time. I might have gotten it for my 2nd birthday, which would be 1965. I wonder if my parents have any pictures of me with it back then? Maybe.
I still have the truck, by the way, and also a Mighty Loader, which I probably got at about the same time.

Happy Engineer

Add me to the club. I had those toys, too! Well, sort of. The train was at the home of my grandparents and the truck was my younger brother's. (I had a Tonka crane instead, but I sure loved playing with that dump truck.)

My brother and I received the Tonka truck and crane in 1969 or 1970. The truck lived most of its life outdoors, engaged in "heavy industry" in a sandbox my dad built. When indoors it was used for hauling marbles, matchbox cars, Lincoln Logs, and sometimes even small boys.

About that locomotive, I had completely forgotten about it until I saw one in an antique store a few years ago. It's funny how moments like that can trigger the recall of memories that may otherwise have been forgotten forever.

It would have been 1967 or 1968, when I was 2 or 3 years old, when I played with that toy locomotive. I distinctly remember its sounds and how it rebounded and changed direction as it struck something. The toy must have become broken and subsequently discarded shortly thereafter because it entirely disappears from my memory of Grandma's toy inventory in later years.

I'll share with you what is now a persistent memory of my experience with the locomotive. I remember gazing intently at the engineer - you can see him facing forward in the cab - and I wondered why he wasn't looking back at me. If I'm not mistaken, our eyes-on-the-road engineer is very noticeably smiling.

Re: Scary Train

I also had this very same train, and I was scared by it too. I can even remember running from it, screaming, and my mother getting a big laugh out of that. We lived with her grandparents at the time, and I don't recall ever seeing it again, after that terrifying introduction. I'll bet Grandpa took it and hid it, he would have been very upset with his granddaughter for making "his Baby" cry.

The Scary Train

I also had the same toy combo in 1967 when I was about three years old and I remember that the mournful "woooo-woooo" of that train scared the heck out of me for some reason. I fared better with the Tonka truck, though.

Not a good excuse

My younger brother who is 65 years old rode one of these six weeks ago down his steep driveway and the dump truck dumped him on the concrete. He has been sore on his tailbone ever since and he uses this to explain any bad shot he has when we play golf.


Love the footie pajamas! Mine were red, and about 20 years later.

Tonka propulsion

We had the same dump truck back in the early 70s. Since the area around Houston isn't known for hills [and therefore we couldn't sit in the bed and let gravity do the rest], we would put one knee in the bed, grab the cab, and use the other leg to push kid and truck along at a pretty good clip.

Thanks again, Shorpy, for another great childhood memory.

Next Stop: Antiques Roadshow

Today, that red Scando-SpaceAge armchair in the background might well be worth more than the rest of the room's non-human contents combined.

HEY! WE Had Those, Too!

No, not the truck or train -- the TV trays with the flowers on them.

The king of hand-me-down toys

I received that same exact Tonka dumptruck as a little kid, and now over 40 years later - after generations of playtime - you can still find it in the "beach toys" box at my country house, ready for my 2 year old nephew to enjoy next summer.

They just do not build them the way they used to.

Indestructible, indeed

are those Tonka toys. My older brother and I got the dumper truck (new, boxed) in the early 70s, together with a similar excavator crane, as a gift from an uncle who brought them from the United States (apparently overweight air luggage was not an issue back then). I distinctly remember the rubber 'exhaust pipes' and my fascination to press the inset plastic head lamps that produced a clicking sound. I also had that Japanese battery locomotive (bought here in Germany, also around 1971, but not so indestructible). The plastic steam dome was lit by a little bulb and was of a pale green color. The engine also produced some kind of smoke that I remember as a typical Christmas smell. It seems funny to me that I had the same combination of toys alsmost one decade later as the lucky boy in the picture.

Flight data recorders

Tonka trucks should be used for housing those flight recorders. These things were nearly indestructible. Even Chuck Norris agrees that he's met his match with these Tonkas.

How the Train Worked

The way the train worked was quite ingenious: The wheels, like the one visible in the picture did not turn, nor did the engine rest on them. Instead, underneath at the balance point was a disc that rotate. Two rubber wheels on an axel were attached to a drive motor. I don't recall whether the disc could turn freely, or whether it, too, was attached to a motor. It could be that when the engine hit something, the "cow-catcher" (pilot) would create a sideways motion that, when combined with the turning wheels, would cause the disc to turn.

The Train, the Train!

I guess everyone must have had that train because I had one also, mine never quite worked right though.
I seem to recall the yellow part lighting up?

I still see them fairly often in Antique Stores.

The Great Train

I distinctly remember that exact train though I haven't thought of it in years. I remember that when it would hit something it would automatically reverse, turn and go in another direction. I also remember watching the Civil War story The Great Locomotive Chase( a similar train) that was stolen and chased until captured. WOW ... a vivid memory I didn't even remember having. Now I wish I had that train ... turning to Ebay now.

Sharp metal edges...

The old Tonkas had two characteristics; sharp metal edges and they would flatten quite nicely when backed over with Mom's car.

Tonka, The Best

Growing up in the early 50s (born in '47), I looked with disdain at anyone's toy trucks if they weren't Tonkas, as all mine were.

Woo-Woo Train

I got one of those engines for either Christmas 1964 or 1964. Mine was just like it, only red. It would wander all over the house by going in a straight line until it bumped into something. Then it would turn and go off in another direction. Periodically it would call out, "Woo-Woo!"

Fun Times

That's the same vintage Tonka dump truck I had growing up in the 60's. My younger brother had one too but his had the hollow wheels, not the solid ones like the one in the picture. We used to turn the trucks around and sit on the dump overhang with our feet in the bed and ride them down the driveway. Sometimes I'm surprised we survived childhood.

Hard bedfellows

My brother, born in 1959, got one of those for Christmas, probably the year before that. I remember that he insisted on having it in bed with him, at night, alongside his Teddy bear! The bear's name wasn't Teddy, though, it was "Joses." That was his version of Bill Dana's character from the Ed Sullivan Show, the "astronaut" who would say "My name Jose Jimenez."

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2018 Shorpy Inc.