Farewell to a man who made childhood memories

Photo: Minnesota Historical Society.

When I was a kid, the summer trip to our trailer (“trailer” wasn’t a bad word when I was a kid) at the beach took us along the back roads of Massachusetts. The interstate highway system hadn’t made it an hour-long trip yet so the parental unit limited the are-we-there-yets with a stop at a Zayre (look it up) store on the way.

And there, I would gawk, and occasionally buy, a Tonka truck. Minnesota and I go back a lot further than 1992, when I moved here, for the Tonka toy name was the product of Mound Metalcraft of Lake Minnetonka. The name is based on the Dakota word taaka meaning “great.” And they were.

For that reason, we pause today to salute Lloyd Laumann, 78, of Waconia, whose life is perfectly captured in a Star Tribune profile today. Lloyd, who was vice president of operations at the company, died three weeks ago.

“It was a fun place to work because people knew what they were doing was bringing joy to a lot of children around the world,” Laumann told the Star Tribune in 2006. “And we had an unusual workforce. Early management’s philosophy was that the people represented the most important asset to the company.”

Those were the days, indeed.

He donated his collection to a Tonka Toy museum, which opened in 2013. KARE 11’s Boyd Huppert took notice.

(Video link)

The last Tonka toy was built here in 1983, and the company moved from Texas to Mexico and then was bought out by Hasbro.

You can still buy a Tonka dump truck for about $35. They’re made of plastic now. Oh, please.

Mr. Laumann is survived by millions of old men people with happy memories of childhood.