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Museum Celebrates "Toys of the Heart"

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RALEIGH — Before there was Pokemon, before there was Nintendo and the Gameboy digital camera, there were teddy bears and trucks, baby dolls and slinkies.

It may come as a shock to today's kids, but there was a time when toys weren't virtual. They were as real as could be -- just ask owners of well-worn, much-loved velveteen rabbits.

The Raleigh City Museum at 220 Fayetteville St. is celebrating "Toys of the Heart."

Grandparents and great-grandparents will take pleasure in strolling back through their own childhoods, and bringing younger members of the family along for the excursion.

Remember board games -- ones that came with a different colored piece for each player and the first order of business was to squabble with a sibling or two over who used which color? Or little pedal cars in the form of fire engines, cars or, especially in farming areas, a bright green John Deere tractor?

Marbles and jacks, jump-ropes, tricycles and dollhouses all belong to an earlier time, and the museum has many of these on display in the current exhibit.

The museum itself is part of the past; it is housed in one of Raleigh's most venerable downtown buildings, the former home of Briggs Hardware.

Source of many of the cherished items were Raleigh residents themselves, who were asked to go through their attics to find toys from their childhoods.

The "Tea Sets to Swing Sets, A Century of Toys" may well mystify today's technically-oriented generation.

But if you remember erector sets, Lionel trains and Lincoln logs, the Bobbsey Twins, and Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, you are the right age for this exhibit.

The Raleigh City Museum is open Tuesday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 - 4 p.m.

"Toys of the Heart" will be on display until spring, 2000.