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A Cardboard Arcade & Some Serious Childlike Inspiration

I have a very dear childhood memory from a lazy summer day where I, along with a few neighbor friends, found an abandoned shopping cart and decided to build our own amusement park in our backyard. We really wanted to build a roller coaster, but none of us had an engineering degree, so we were left with a lot of makeshift mechanics at hand. We spent much of the day turning wagons, refrigerator boxes, and rope swings into something more elaborate and freewheeling. Our ramshackle amusement park was only operational for a single day (most of it wound up in the garbage) but I would like to think we all have hung on to that memory.

I was reminded of my amusement park building days when I happened upon the short video Caine’s Arcade last week. Caine is a 9-year-old boy living in East L.A. and doing his best to engage his creativity and ingenuity during lazy weekend afternoons with his father. He is doing a hell of a job. Caine’s father runs a used automotive parts store and, in a moment of generosity, his father gave up some of the storefront to Caine so the boy could build his dream arcade out of discarded cardboard and shipping detritus. I highly recommend you watch the video below:

While everyone is certainly capable of making up their own minds about what you just saw (after you dry your tears) I have to say this boy’s vision and unflagging commitment are something seemingly rare in the contemporary world. Caine, in this video, demonstrates, not just creativity and resourcefulness, but a real desire to provide a rewarding experience to his prospective customers (so much so, he even gets down on his hands and knees to spit out tickets from a slot). An exceptional kid living an analog dream in the digital age.

Can you think of, or share, any other instances of serious childhood creativity and inventiveness to compare? Do we not give our children enough credit for their innate cleverness?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

23 comments

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2:57PM PDT on May 7, 2012

nice!

7:32PM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

reminds me of years ago when kids really did use their imaginations, the video was worth it just to see the smile on Caine's face.

6:31AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Wonderful imagination

5:47AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

inspirational

5:22AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Way to go, Caine!!!
You are a brilliant young man!!!
Never stop dreaming!!

3:38AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

Thanks.

2:11AM PDT on Apr 23, 2012

very nice and creative idea

7:07PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

thank you!

6:54PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Very creative.

5:02PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

How very fantastic that
A/ Dad didn't mind him making a mess, suing the space, or stick his nose in to "help" him.
B/ His only customer turned out to be a guy who recognised talent when he saw it.
C/ Everyone encouraged him to "do his own thing".
D/ He was encouraged to ignore the brats at school.
E/ His Dad told him to suss out the "claw" on his own!
F/ He didn't give up at the lack of customers.
G/ This kids has had the chance to PROVE how special he can be when he has the chance.
Good on Yer' Caine... Go Lad Go!

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