The Suitcase Lady


July 3, 2013, 12:24 am

Assume nothing. This advice is a splendid way to avoid all manner of life’s surprises.

Breaking that rule, I’ve always assumed that the famous children’s toys, Tonka trucks, were made in Minnetonka, Minnesota. We frequently stay in a hotel in Minnetonka and, when there, I think of myself as being in “little truck city”.

We were recently in Minneapolis where we parked our car on Xerxes Avenue . The neighborhood was a mix of well tended, modest 1940’s homes. And then we spotted a house with incredibly imaginative landscaping… was landscaped with Tonkas. We stood on the sidewalk admiring the homeowner’s handiwork and obvious love for these sturdy playthings.

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Back home, I decided to learn Tonka’s history. The first thing I discovered is that Tonkas were never made in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Mound, Minnesota is the birthplace of the Tonka toy. The trucks got their name from Lake Minnetonka on which Mound is situated.

My second discovery is that America has a National Museum of Play in downtown Rochester, New York, which houses the National Toy Hall of Fame. Tonka trucks were inducted into the museum in 2001.

A field trip to Mound is definitely in order. Even though Tonkas are now made in China (no surprise here, everything is) I want to visit the ancestral home of America’s favorite miniature earth moving equipment. What would a backyard sandbox be without them?

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