They then proceed to tell me about the wagon they toted along on the paper route they had when they were a kid, how their sibling pulled them around in crazy backyard adventure or the rocketship they created with their friends.
It seems they can almost hear the laughter and the wagon wheels on the concrete, and feel the sun on their face and the wind in their hair.
A lot of people tell me how they used to pile more kids than they should into a Radio Flyer wagon and fly down a hill during a time when kids had a bit more freedom with fewer rules and a sense of discovery. I fit into that camp.
We used to race the Radio Flyer Fireball 2001 (our answer to the Big Wheel in the early 1970s) down a steep hill or over homemade ramps. I loved the thrill of speed and sense of danger. I got a little dirty and had the occasional scraped knee, all fond badges of my childhood. My Radio Flyer was with me for the ride, and allowed me to push boundaries, in a safe way, and take risks.
But people like Maggie Hill, from St. Augustine, Florida, sums it up best when she shared her story with me:
I was a child of the 1950s.
My special toy was given to me on my third Christmas, a shiny Red Flyer with black rubber tires, metal hubcaps, and a bed deep enough to carry serious material and an even more serious little girl.
That wagon became my vehicle to Mars.
It became my horse that led to the desolation of cattle-rustling thieves.
It became the fire truck that saved our neighborhood.
I’d sit with my right leg bent under, nestled in the wagon, my left leg dangling over the side, foot pushing hard against the pavement, propelling me forward toward five years old…seven…ten…
My Radio Flyer lasted into the 1980s, when my three-year-old was given the privilege of riding in that old chariot attached behind her grandfather’s lawn mower.
Watching from the front porch of our homestead, I finally realized what my wise parents had always known.
The joys and freedoms of childhood are forever linked to a shiny red Radio Flyer wagon.
Maggie captured the essence of what we aspire to be as a company and the type of childhood and memories we aim to create. It’s the special, magical place where a person can be transported—whether you are the child in the driver’s seat or the adult pulling your child or grandchild along.
What is your Radio Flyer story? We created a place on our website just for you to share it—either through a video, photo or words. We hope it becomes a forum for people to share stories from childhoods present and past; to celebrate, recognize and showcase what’s best about childhood … a repository of childhood memories … the Smithsonian of childhood play.
These are the heartwarming stories of the ordinary moments that make up each day – the stories that aren’t necessarily newsworthy, but are the ones people want to read and serve as a reminder of what is good and important in life.
Me and all the Flyers -- our employees-- feel incredibly grateful to be part of people’s childhoods, and are committed to continue our tradition—and even improve on it. When people reflect the warm memories of their childhood back to me, it makes me feel proud, but also I feel a sense of responsibility to preserve and honor those wonderful moments and what is best about childhood.
We’ve sold more than 100 million wagons since our founding in 1917—so we know there are at least 100 million stories out there. We hope you share yours with us today!