I Am Homesick For Play-Doh

There are days when I wake up and think, “I want just one sniff of Play-Doh again.” Remember that wonderful smell? I wonder how may people know that Play-Doh actually started out as a wallpaper cleaner back in the good old days when coal stoves and furnaces deposited a sooty mess on the walls of a house. The wall cleaner was rolled onto the wall to remove the soot. Then came the demise of the coal stoves and furnaces, and wallpaper cleaner was no longer needed. The product, true to its physical properties, morphed into something else. It was used as a modeling compound for pre-schoolers to make Christmas tree ornaments that were baked in an oven. Many tweaks later, including adding that wonderful almondy scent, Play-Doh hit the market in blue, red and yellow. The cans of Play-Doh we had at home had the metal top the color of the dough inside, and you had to pry the top out of the can each time. If you didn’t put the top back on properly, the Play-Doh would dry out and crumble. It also made wonderful collages when it heated up and stuck to the heat registers in the kitchen. How many products actually morph successfully into something else and are still in existence? Probably not many, I would guess. Yet those of us who work are asked to do that all of the time, especially during a recession when you are asked to do more with less at work.

I was born in the early 1960s at a time when adults chose a career and pretty much stuck with in their whole working lives. Not so my generation (tail Baby Boomers) or the generations that came after them. My career path so far: Head Start teacher, medical social worker, cataloger, multimedia supervisor, editorial assistant, career resource specialist, associate director of career services, recruiter, copyeditor, and writer. I think our generation was the first that had to be quick on their feet, willing to reinvent themselves, willing to be flexible and embrace career change. It was hard — really hard. I think we looked to our parents to get an idea of what working life would be like and saw that if you were successful, you had job security, you could pay off the house before the kids went to college. In some ways, it was almost like we were cheated out of that stability that the American dream owed us. But the upside is that, no matter which generation you are, if you are able to deal with job insecurity and career changes, the opportunities, especially as the economy gets stronger, are out there and are exciting. Or scary, depending on your outlook. Your next career could be right around the corner. Me? I’m headed out to buy a can of Play-Doh…


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