August 1950. A magical month for 8 year-olds at the Jersey Shore.
We got 25₵ each day to spend anyway we wished, on comic books (10₵) or candy or games at the arcade! Our best fun adventure, though, was crawling under the boardwalk to find fallen treasure – coins or small gumball machine prizes – that had slipped out of tiny hands or torn pockets through the cracks into the sand below. It was a joyous time of freedom and discovery for our little barefoot band.
All the charms were wonderfully detailed miniatures from our everyday life – plastic and metal fans that actually spun, chrome toasters, one-inch playing cards, jewelry, record albums, Loony Tune characters, REAL knives, and Cracker Jack wiggle pictures.
In the evenings we traded with friends to complete our own collections, lovingly organizing charms by color, shape, item and uniqueness. At bedtime we returned our treasures to their cigar boxes and secreted them under our pillows.
I remember being endlessly fascinated with the visual trickery of Cracker Jack wiggle pictures.
Wiggle pictures (or flip pictures) are technically known as lenticulars.