Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

My Husband Is One Of Santa’s Elves

Posted by sodaklady on January 5, 2008

It all started with a doll cradle, a design which was improved after our daughter (at the age of 2) sat in hers and broke the bottom out. When Richard retired from the Air Force and started working for a local home center, he decided to build doll cradles for all the people he worked with that had little girls. For the little boys, he found a sturdy design for a dump truck with a handle to lift the bed. (I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of one.) Now every year, he finds new designs and, of course, there’s always a few new cradles to build.

Doll Cradle

The cradles have a cartoon character on one end and the girl’s name on the other.

Wooden toy car

The little car which looks to me like a Volkswagen Beetle, was one of the first and still my favorite.

Grasshopper Pull Toy

The grasshopper was a step in another direction, an animated pull toy, and he had many people ask for  them. A few were modified by request, made wider with holes in the body to hold crayons.

Wooden Steamroller

Last year’s model was a steamroller.

Keepsake Box

For an older girl, he built a small keepsake chest. The curved lid and beautiful dove-tailing made it a lovely piece. Inside is a removable shelf that rests near the top of the box.

Wooden Road Grader and Front-end Loader

This year he built road graders and front-end loaders for the boys.  One of the older ladies he works with got one of each for her two grandsons.  She came to work the day after Christmas and told Richard what a big hit they were.  The toys had not been wrapped but set in front of the packages under the tree so when the children came downstairs on Christmas morning, they were the first thing that caught their eyes.  “Santa’s elves came!”  I can just imagine a child’s amazement to find wooden toys under the tree—the kind they’d seen Santa’s elves building in many movies and cartoons.

 The wonderful thing is that of all the fancy, expensive toys that they received, these two wooden toys were the ones they played with all day.  Could there be a bigger compliment than that?


18 Responses to “My Husband Is One Of Santa’s Elves”

  1. Linnaeus said


    That’s a wonderful story, Mary. And tell Richard that those toys are absolutely amazing.

  2. sodaklady said

    Thanks, Gerald. I’ll tell him.

    Would you like to place your order now for next year, and beat the holiday rush? 🙂

  3. Linnaeus said

    Not right now, but an order at some point certainly isn’t out of the question.

  4. Brian said


  5. sodaklady said

    Thanks, Brian.

  6. Gerald said

    Again, I am so impressed by Richard’s artistic work. My dad made a number of toys like these for our children. The kids played with them a lot. Occasionally, a decorative part would break off; sometimes we glued it back on, and we always kept the pieces that didn’t get re-attached. The majority of the toys have survived intact and are in great condition, considering the play time and the fact that they are over 30 years old. Richard’s work will be around for a long time. What a wonderful legacy!

  7. Sue (gamesgrandpa spouse) said

    I love all the toys Richard made – hard to say which is my favorite. Being a doll lover as a little girl, I adore the cradle, especially since it has a character on one end and the girl’s name on the other. The grasshopper is sooo cute. Being a “Tom boy” also, I would have loved all the cars, trucks, and construction equipment. Richard could certainly have another career as a real “Santa’s Helper”. What a neat hobby!! Great job.

  8. sodaklady said

    Thanks. Nice to hear from grandpa’s spouse. 🙂 If you like the grasshopper, wait until you see the turtle! The head and tail go up and down with the turning of the wheels. He made one on special request and I forgot to take a picture so I have to wait until he makes another one. It’s just too cute for words.

  9. These toys are lovely and so well made. I love to see handcrafted wooden toys being played with. There is so much plastic about today and so many noisy toys. My boys really use their creativity and imagination when playing with their wooden toys which is great to see.

    • sodaklady said

      Thanks, Ted. You’re right that it seems today’s kids are not using their imaginations enough and I think it hinders their creativity as adults.

      Your post made me realize that I still need to post a picture of the turtle! 🙂

  10. Gerald said

    Please post the turtle. We have an extensive turtle collection, and would enjoy seeing this one.

  11. […] by sodaklady on July 10, 2010 A comment on a post I made over two years ago reminded me that I wanted to add a picture of the toy turtle he had made […]

  12. Ron said

    i am so impressed Richard’s work. I like to kids played with them hand made toys , considering the fast pace we live in today Richard’s work will be around for a long time,and in the harts of little ones and What a wonderful legacy! Ron

  13. Сергей Озёрный said

    Lovely wooden toys, very good

  14. Pierre M-M said

    Hi there,

    I’m just starting out in woodworking (toys especially – but I’m very handy with my hands and tools) and I’d love to make Richard’s turtle for my niece but I’m stuck in working out the mechanism.

    Would you be able to post a pic pics of the underside and a pic of the top before the shell goes on please?

    Regards and thanks

    Pierre (from Australia)

  15. Juhlie said

    Beautiful wood toys! could you point me the direction of the plans for the grader and front end loader? thanks!

    • sodaklady said

      Hi, Juhlie,

      Thanks. The plans for these pieces are in the Better Homes and Gardens WOOD magazines, issues 41 and 45. I’m not sure if you can find or order back issues from 1991! But they may be available direct from WOOD magazine. They have an address in each of the articles where you can order plans and it may be worth writing them to ask: WOOD magazine, P.O. Box 11454, Des Moines, IA 50336-1454

      Good Luck

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