Sam I Am Blog

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The Toy I Lost . . .At Sea by Samuel E. Warren Jr

with 8 comments

Common Sense procedures will protect your fleet of toys


The Toy

I Lost . . . At Sea

TEXACO TOY TANKER_1961_resized

Texaco S.S.North Dakota

Toy oil tanker by Wen Mac Company

In 1961, the Wen Mac Company produced this wonderful toy for kids. I got to enjoy my ship for about two hours. The majority of that “play time” was worry. I watched it bob about on the waters of the “Wild Warren Sea” in the southwest Missouri Ozarks.


These fleets of wonderful toy ships sometimes ride anchor on the virtual ebay sea. Aspiring young captains and first mates set course to surf or sail the cyber sea over to ebay for more information.


by Samuel E. Warren Jr,


The beauty of my childhood is there were great and affordable toys that parents could buy for their kids. There were numerous toy companies in the United States and toy companies overseas that shipped toys to the United States.


There were all types of great and interesting toys. The toys were rubber, pressed tin, metal, plastic, battery operated and early remote control toys. The electronic toys, gadgets, gizmos and computer games were still 20 to 30 years in the future.


Kids in the 1950s and 1960s still had to rely on their imaginations, creativity and the manual labor of sitting on the kitchen floor or in the yard to play with your toys.


My toy box in the garage had become a miniature salvage yard of toy cars and trucks that had failed the child stress test of playtime. I didn’t abuse or misuse my toys. Like Real World automobiles and aircraft, sometimes the advertising does not live up to the realities of day to day use.


I had some toys that I was particular about because I enjoyed playing with them and they were fun to use. Usually those toys, ended up in the house. The toys I was extremely particular with went in a refrigerator-sized cardboard box in a corner of the laundry room. Those were the special toys that I only brought out when other kids came to play or at special times. The games were on top.


I knew I was a lucky kid. I was also an only child, which meant I didn’t share my toys on a day to day basis. I did not have a lot of ships in my toy inventory.


When we moved to the farm in Missouri, I “forward deployed” the toys I didn’t want to live without. The yearly trip to Texas, more toys ended up “deployed to Missouri.” The pedal car, pedal tractor and the tricycle, eventually got “reassigned” to Missouri.

Daddy’s two trips a year, he would bring me toys, especially as presents at Christmas.


Samuel E. Warren arrived in Galena for his Fourth of July visit in 1961. Daddy brought me a beautiful plastic toy ship. I opened the box. It was a beautiful Texaco tanker ship, the .S.S. North Dakota.


The red body wide hull displayed a wide ribbon of black around the top of the vessel. The white wheelhouse and accessories on the deck made the ship look like a real ship.


I put the D batteries in the ship and rushed over the rocks to the farm pond.


Common sense means I should have taken the time to read over the manual. I should of waited until I had “brand new” D size batteries for the ship. I should of gotten a good night’s sleep and then went to the pond to “christen” the ship with her maiden voyage.


I turned the ship on, the tiny propellers spin. I set the ship in the water. Ripples of water stream around the ship.


On her maiden voyage she was underway across the wide cow pond. I watched proudly. In the middle of the pond, the ship slows and seems to drop anchor. The engine had quit. The batteries were wore out. The ship sat in the middle of the pond, “dead in the water.”


I should of used new D batteries. I made a dumb decision.


In childhood, patience is not something that comes naturally.


Momma had always told me not to throw rocks in the pond. After all, you pay someone to dig a deep hole to let the rain fill up for cattle, so you don’t want rocks back in the water. Sometimes lime would have to be added to the soil to help maintain the water in the pond.


This pond had always been a problem. It just didn’t seem to want to hold water. I looked at my “elite of the fleet” vessel “lost at sea” in the middle of the pond. The afternoon sun was thrusting out the last rays of daylight. I tried to weigh my options.

The pond was deep enough to swim a horse, I couldn’t walk out and get the ship. From time to time, in this farm pond,you would see a snake swimming along.



A ripple effect should generate enough energy to push the ship forward toward the shore. The theory seemed practical.


I threw rocks in the water to create ripples to guide the ship to shore. The ship bobbed about on the artificial waves I kept picking up and tossing in rocks. The ripple effect worked for awhile.


Black Angus and Polled Hereford cattle strolled to the pond to drink. Some wondered out into the pond and created ripples that helped to sail the ship. Then, the cattle went back ashore.


I became anxious and picked up bigger rocks to toss in the water. Unfortunately, some of those rocks generated intense ripples. My rock shelling of the ship was a bad decision.


My rescue operation had turned into an accidental aerial bombardment. The rocks plopped into the water and generated large exploded splashes of water around the ship’s bow and stern.


The rock flak wasn’t generating ripples; it was creating seismic tsunamis that were lashing into the toy ship’s hull. The plastic tanker was bobbing about. I didn’t think it would be a problem. I thought, the toys was naturally correcting it’s course based on the nature of the water.


I should have relied more on science and my common sense than my optimism. I saw the ship was shifting in the water. I made the bad decision to keep “shelling” rocks at the toy ship.


Wide webs of water splashed against the ship’s hull a few more times. Then, the ship listed over on it’s side. I stopped throwing rocks into the water. The ship laid on it’s side in the water for a few moments. I hoped it would move closer to the shore.


A few moments passed. Suddenly, I watched the toy ship slip beneath the waves.


My North Dakota tanker slipped beneath the water of The Wild Warren Sea.


As of December 2011, the toy Texaco tanker ship the .S.S. North Dakota still rests on the bottom of that farm pond in Missouri.


The moral to the story is: “Play with your toys and enjoy them.” If you take care of your toys like any tool, you will have them for years to come. If you abuse or misuse your toys, then, all you will be left with is a memory.



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 24, 2012 at 7:29 PM

8 Responses

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  1. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and
    wished to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

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    December 31, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    • Jeremy,

      Thank you for the comment. I’m one of those people who has an opinion about everything, so it is usually only a couple of days between my published articles.



      January 5, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    • I too had a beloved SS Dakota when I was 8 years old. I served aboard it for at least a year, probably two. It seldom went in the water after it’s maiden voyage in the neighborhood pool as it was a land cruiser. It slowly showed its age with scratches and gashes on the bottom of its beautiful red hull. The external protruding parts topside had long since snapped off, as had the rudder, but it was still a source of incredible enjoyment. It was a battleship, a troop ship; it could fly.

      Until one day, when it disappeared. I didn’t notice it right away as it occurred during the week ,as I was later to surmise. I went looking for it that weekend only to discover it missing in action. After an extensive but vain search, I finally asked my mother after its whereabouts. The first major tragedy of my life occurred at that moment when my mother uttered these words of doom. ‘Oh, I threw it out.’ WHAT!? I exclaimed in a combination of sorrow, horror and outrage. WHY?! was my next word. I was almost speechless and apoplectic.

      My mother you see has a cleanliness, neatness, tidiness obsession. The house looks like a model home; you could eat off the floors. When anything in the house started to show some patina, age, aura of having lived, it was tossed. Frankly I’m surprised I wasn’t thrown away when I got older.This happened many times to my lone pair of blue jeans when they started to finally fade and shrink and become cool. But that’s another story for amother, er another other day and my Shrink.

      My story does not end here however and probably contributed to my need to save things that mean something to me, not hoarding but….kind of close. Needless to say I don’t like throwing things away. I plotted revenge for the callous disregard my parents had exhibited toward my prized childhood possession; for my father had contributed, even if tacitly, by not saying anything and allowing this outrage to occur.

      Now I’m not real proud of this next part; but I assure you kind reader that although this traumatic event did
      profoundly affect me and I never forgot it as you can tell; It did not warp me and turn me into the serial killer my next action may, to some, suggest.

      I searched for a way to express my extreme displeasure with this crime that had been perpetrated upon me and my beloved ship. It didn’t dawn on me to do something to them, the house, car, possessions etc. No, this had to make a major statement and my eyes soon fell upon the victim of my ire….my brother’s Teddy Bear. The bear was a present to him from either my folks or mom’s parents; can’t remember which. Suffice it to say it held a beloved position in the house, even though it was starting to show some wear and tear and in my eyes could have been a candidate for a date with the Trashmen.

      This is the part where the more squeamish of you may want to avert your eyes for a sentence or two. Hahahaha! I bearnapped Teddy and took him to my room. Taking a piece of paper I crafted a crudely printed message. I WANT MY TEXACO TANKER! I affixed it to Teddy’s chest and reached for a piece of rope that I tied around his neck and hung him from the stairway so you could see it when you walked
      through the front door.

      Well, as you can surmise, my demonstration was never mentioned. It has been brought up by me over the years much to my mothers chagrin and continues to be a source of commentary , jokes, innuendo.

      I recently saw an SS North Dakota in a Coin Shop, of all places. I asked if I could hold it. I held it in my hands, almost t reverently, as memories flashed through my mind. ‘How much is it?’ I inquired. ‘$500 dollars’, the man replied. I almost spewed forth like the old comedy gag. ‘You gotta be kidding me’, I thought to myself and new feelings of, ‘I can’t believe they threw my Texaco Tanker away and now look how much it’s worth!’

      No I didn’t buy it.

      Steve Falk

      October 2, 2014 at 9:04 AM

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    January 18, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    • Jessica,

      Thank you for the compliment. I am one of those writers that believes you should let your readers sense your passion and purpose in an article.



      January 21, 2013 at 10:07 PM

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    July 1, 2013 at 3:50 AM

  4. What’s funny is that my Dad got us one of these Texaco Tankers for Christmas and then took it away from us because he knew we would shortly destroy it as you did. It sat in the original box for the next 30 years in the back of his home office closet and I finally got to sail it at my apartment swimming pool as an adult. I still have it in mint condition today!

    Cary Mark

    December 10, 2015 at 12:17 PM

  5. See
    Ours sat on a mantle my entire life. Until recently, I had no idea where it came from.
    The promo cars – which I guess would be worth quite a bit of money, if intact – were not as fortunate as the freighter and did not survive my childhood.


    June 7, 2019 at 9:30 AM

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