- The Washington Times - Monday, April 17, 2006

The nursery in Rachel Schober’s home comes from another age. Her 9-month-old son looks out from his wooden crib at a barrel of Tinkertoys, tasseled curtains and the sort of Mother Goose illustrations his grandmother might have spied as a young girl. At night, he’s tucked into sheets imprinted with sailing ships and toy soldiers.

“We love the way people lived back then,” said Mrs. Schober, who lives with her husband and son in a gabled Victorian home in Wichita, Kan. “Being together with families and sitting out on the front porch and enjoying life rather than trying to get a thousand things done in a day.”

The Schobers are not alone in surrounding their child with vintage-style toys and decor. Businesses that sell toys and nursery furnishings modeled after styles from the ‘50s and earlier report brisk sales. Parents say they find comfort in the timeless looks. Psychologists suggest parents also might be trying to create cocoons that conjure more child-friendly times before 24-hour news, terrorism and technological overload.

“Parents are looking to make their homes the safe refuge,” said Leah Klungness, a private-practice psychologist on Long Island. “While the world doesn’t necessarily spin on the latest wallpaper trend, it definitely suggests that on a basic level parents are trying to return to a simpler time with more basic, family-centered values.”

Vintage styles for young children — be it tin tops or cowboy sheets — remain a niche. Toy store shelves remain loaded with electronic devices, and Elmo stands sentry over countless cribs.

Still, the toys and styles are popular.

Even as toy industry sales lag, Scholastic Corp. reported revenue growth from Back to Basics Toys, which offers golden oldies such as Radio Flyer wagons and Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots.

Jeanette Mulvey, owner of Baby Goes Vintage, says parents tell her all the time that they want to create a safe place for their child.

“It can’t be a coincidence that all these companies are introducing cars that look like old cars,” she said. “I think it speaks to the same desire: To let people feel that they’re living in a simpler time.”

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