I have so many favorite photos. This one stands out because of it’s historical significance. It shows my grandfather, Joao “Bohne” Pacheco Smith with his nephew, Theodore Souza.
And, what’s that in the background? Why, it’s Lindbergh’s plane!
Okay, maybe not the real plane but a handmade toy version.
A Child’s Toy Airplane
Theodore was born in 1924. I’d say he is about 4-5 years old here. His childhood fell right in the middle of Lindbergh’s hay day.
Notice that Joao is holding a toy airplane. But it’s the bigger one in the background that really caught my attention.
His father, Anton “Dean” Souza, was enthralled by Lindbergh’s feats. He decided to build his son a replica Spirit of St. Louis. You can see it the background with the letters T.W. painted on it (for Theodore William).
Rolling The Airplane Down Oakland’s Hills
This airplane wasn’t just for show. There was a seat big enough for a small child and wheels. It was made to be played in–and Theodore and his brother, Alfred, did just that!
The Souza’s lived on E. 25th Street in Oakland, California, surrounded by hills. Alfred was 8 years older than Theodore. He was strong enough to help his brother drag the airplane up to the top of the street.
Then, he’d give Theodore a push and he’d go rolling down the hill. He managed to take that trip many times. In old age, he laughed about it, wondering how he didn’t end up banged up and bruised in someone’s flower bed.
Lindbergh Toys Were All The Rage
The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has a Charles Lindbergh toy airplane in its collection. It is a tin replica of the Spirit of St. Louis.
I imagine there were many toys for sale including rolling one’s like Theodore’s. But, his was the only one made by his father.
Do you have photos showing your ancestors with toys? If so tell us about them in the comments.
This post was written for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Favorite Photograph