3/03/2005

Kid Games

The little yellow house was great for kids. It had big trees. You could climb up and play space pilot or, if the wind was blowing you could ride the bucking broncos. If you leaned against the trunk from a large branch you were perfectly perched to read a book. When you were really quiet up there no one could find you.

The large catelpa tree had beautiful blossoms that could be strung into leis. We would make two apiece and then wrap towels around our swim suits and hula all over the yard. My Mom had an Aunt in Hawaii that sent us what we called seed bead necklaces and such trinkets. We loved them. It inspired us to learn about faraway places and the hula.

The garage roof was a permanent point of contention between my parents and us. A retaining wall held the side walk away from the garage. This meant that there was about a two foot gap between the edge of the roof and the sidewalk. The gap was probably about a 6 foot drop to the ground.

The danger didn't seem severe to us but Mom always thought we'd get killed there. The gap wouldn't have been a problem but we loved to sit on the warm, tarpaper roof or lay there and sun bathe. That meant crossing the gap and that meant making the Mom angry if she caught you.

You could bounce down the rock wall and get banged up or slide down the garage wall and get splinters. Of course, you might miss them both and just drop six feet and get the wind knocked out of you.

One sister was on the roof, slipped, and managed to grab the edge of the eaves to hang full length (about three feet, including her arms) and then drop. That created a whole new game for us to play. Sort of like Tarzan we would run up to the edge, lean across, grab the edge, swing by our arms and then drop down just to run up and do it again.

We had tricycles, clamp on roller skates, a wagon, whistles, balls, real sleds that steered (sort of), a tobbagan that we only used when Dad and Mom went sliding with us, dolls, teddy bears, of course, and a troupe of three to start with that expanded to four when Ar got big enough to play outside with us.

Our repertoire of games and entertainments was extensive. Inside, outside, in the car, at the farms, we always had something to do. If we didn't have a game for the occasion, we made up new ones. They were new to us, anyway.

For the car there was singing; Henry the 8th; 99 Bottles of Beer; Side by Side; Old Mill Stream; You are My Sunshine; We had rare harmony but frequent enthusiasm. We had " I see something you don't see, a guessing game; Road ABC's, find the alphabet in order from signs on the road; Button, Button, Who's Got the Button, with 8 hands to hide a penny in this could go on a long time.

Reading aloud and storytelling were also favorites in the car. Dad could screw up any fairy tale and make us laugh. Like "The Three Bears" where Mama bear had cinnamon rolls for breakfast and Baby bear jumped into his bed so hard that he and Goldilocks went crashing down. He did this one at home once and jumped into the baby crib to demonstrate. He leaped the rails like it was a race car and it did come crashing down. Mom didn't laugh. Dad fixed it later.

For the farms we would visit Loft Leaping was a big favorite with all of us. First, you had to make a big pile of loose hay. (note: bales WILL NOT work! V. O. E.) Then, you had to clear a path to the ladder that was safe for little kids. After that - climb up, jump down, rake hay back up and repeat till exhausted, sweaty and your shirt and hair are full of hay crumbs.

Catch the kitten was a great barn game for us. I am not sure how the kittens liked it. We have several pictures of us with the wild felines, so we won at least once in awhile.

Outside games were fairly common; Statues; Red Rover; Simon Says; jumping ropes, climbing trees; marbles; yo-yo's, of course; hop scotch, Keep Away; Dodge Ball; Hide and Seek are the ones I can remember.

Don't forget sports! We played all of them. Don't you dare tell us girls can't play, either. If you did we messed with your game till no one could play! I was scared to death of getting tackled in football and could catch fairly well - great advantages for a receiver! Softball was where I could shine. I could "hit the hole", which meant I could put the ball where there were no players 9 out of 10 times, and I could hit hard enough to get a few home runs in my pocket.

It wasn't all skill and talent, there was a little luck involved. At school one day a boy hit a major pop up. It went miles into the air. I ran back and watched it and ran back and stopped.....Then I just KNEW it was going to thump me right on the noggin' and I threw my arm up over my head - mitt up! It dropped in - just like downtown! Too sweet a memory, what a thrill!

For inside we had some board games but, most of the time, we played card games. We learned them from friends and out grandparents and a few Mom or Dad taught us. It was cheap entertainment and worked for lots of kids at once.

Our imaginations were vivid and we put on skits and plays that were almost as dangerous to us as crossing the street. We made puppets and stages, used our dolls and pets for actors, contrived our own clothing for costumes and generally could spent most of a day putting one together.

I'll fill in some details tomorrow.

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