Tuesday, February 23, 2016

It's All Fun and Games

I saw a retro picture on Facebook of some kids playing Red Rover.  I'd forgotten all about that game.  I started trying to remember all those old games we use to play when we were kids.  You know, the ones that didn't come from a store.  I'm a sucker for nostalgia so I thought we'd talk about some of those today!  I'm so excited!

1)  Let's just start with Red Rover.  "Red Rover, Red Rover, send Suzy right over."  You remember how you did when they called your name?  You sized up the line trying to find the weakest link through which you could hurl your body.  The gaunt, little boy who always had a nosebleed and the girl who was real prissy and screamed at roly polies.....well, if you could find the two of them holding hands, then that was your ticket through.  You'd back up and run as hard as your little legs would take you right toward their outstretched arms.  I was always a target because of my spindly physique (I was called Bony Joni....affectionately, I'm sure) but they soon learned that I'd let them dislocate my shoulder before I let go. 

2)  Mother, May I?  Oh, I loved this game!  "Steve, take 5 baby steps.......Mother, may I?......Yes, you may.......Holly, take two giant leaps."  Oh, the power!  What a rush to be able to tell the boy who was always pulling your hair that he forgot to say, "Mother, may I?"  This game and Simon Says fueled our desire to lord over others and gave us a thirst to mold them into our submissive subjects.    

3)  Doggie, Doggie, Who's Got the Bone?  This game really helped us hone our lying and thievery skills.  I mean if you're going to play a game with children, let it, at least, teach them a life skill in the process. Some lucky person was chosen to sit in the chair with a bone placed under it......or a block or any other available substitute......and the teacher picked someone to go and steal the bone.  Quietly and stealthily, he'd creep up to the chair and take the bone and go back and sit down.  With our hands behind our backs, we'd all chant, "Doggie, doggie, who's got the bone?  Somebody stole it from your home."  The dog would turn around and get three guesses as to who stole her bone.  I feel like the Doggie, Doggie champions from elementary school are now, oddly enough, politicians and used car salesmen but I digress.

4)  Red Light, Green Light.  The person who was "it" turned their back to the line of kids and yelled, "Green light!"  Everyone would run toward her until she yelled, "Red light" and turned around quickly.  Anyone caught still moving was sent back to the start.  This game was especially enjoyable when played at the skating rink.  It helped us develop our braking skills.   

5)  Follow the leader.  This game was especially fun when played on bicycles.  If the leader popped a wheelie, then you did, too.  If the leader turned her handle bars around backwards and rode zig zag down the hill, then you did, too.  And if, say, the leader put her feet up on her banana seat, rode with no hands with her eyes closed, and zoomed into oncoming traffic then you better do it, too.  Follow the Leader embodied the age old parental question, "If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?" .....and put it into game form.
 
For anyone who's interested, this was just like my old ride....color and all.  Look at those lines. 
That aerodynamic body.  The pimping wheels.  The ombre' paint job. 
 Built to endure.  Easy on the eyes.   

6)  Paper football.  You remember how you'd fold a piece of notebook paper into the triangle and get 4 tries to thump it down the table and get it to hang off the end without falling over for a touchdown?  Pure skill is what that took, let me tell you.  Of course, the extra point was thumped through the uprights which was formed by your brother's thumbs and pointer fingers.  It was football at its finest.  The girl version of paper fun was the paper fortune teller which proved to have unremarkable accuracy. 

7)  HORSE.  Horse was for those of us who liked to shoot basketball but didn't like to actually play basketball.  More often than not, the backboard was made from a sheet of plywood that somebody's dad had cut out with a ratty net clinging for dear life from the rim.  You'd attempt a shot and, if you made it, the other person would have to make the same shot or they'd get a letter.  Whoever spelled horse first was the loser at which point they'd suggest playing HORSES. 

8)  Dodge Ball.  Was there any better way to work out your frustrations than that?  To peg a friend in the side of the head so hard that the parquet design of the playground ball was embossed into his face and he got nauseated and started seeing double.  Usually, the PE teacher knew just how to handle such neurological emergencies though.  "Go get a drink out of the water fountain and splash some on your face.  You'll be fine."  Back in the day, before the "no balls above the shoulders rule", a few good games of dodge ball were what made us who we are today.  

9)  Croquet.  I loved some croquet.  It made you feel all sophisticated like the Englishmen.  You'd set up those wires all around the yard and knock the wooden balls through them.  My favorite part was when you hit someone else's ball and you got to send their ball sailing across the yard by putting your foot on top of your ball and hitting it as hard as you could so that theirs went so far from the playing field that they felt hopeless and despondent.  Good times.  Good times.   

10)  Playing in the sprinkler.  This was the middle class child's answer to the swimming pool.  Who needed diving boards, pool toys, and a filtration system when you had an oscillating lawn sprinkler and a green hose?  This was guaranteed fun for hours.......or, at least, for 14 minutes or so until the grass started sticking to your feet and you realized you couldn't do a cannonball. 

11)  Clapping games and jump rope rhymes.  The girls seemed to be into the clapping games like "Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack all dressed in black, black, black with silver buttons, buttons, buttons all down her back, back, back."   Or you could find us jumping rope to "Cinderella dressed in yellow went upstairs to see her fellow.  By mistake she kissed a snake, how many doctors does it take?"  And, sometimes, the girls just wanted to make clover necklaces.  I never really cared for any of that because, well, only having brothers.  It had to be a pretty slow day on the kickball side of the playground for me to go make a flower chain.  

12)  London Bridge Is Falling Down.  What the heck was that about?  I don't really know but I played it a whole bunch and remember being tossed from side to side during the "Take the keys and lock her up" part.  Ring around the Rosy has some disturbing origins, too.  Thank goodness, while we were happily holding hands in a circle, we didn't know that "Ashes, ashes.... we all fall down" was talking about cremating the children's bodies who'd fallen dead from the plaque.  What kind of sick freak would make a game out of that?  Moving on.          

13) Musical Chairs.  Everyone loved a friendly, little round of Musical Chairs.  It was all fun and games until it got down to two of you and one chair.  You'd slow way down as you passed the chair and run back around again. "Get your hands off the chair and keep moving!" the teacher would always yell.   

14)  Hide and Seek.  This was always my least favorite game because of my brothers' affection for jumping out and scaring me to death.  If the seeker didn't suffer cardiac arrest when she found them then they thought it was just a big ol' waste of time.  When you live with brothers, you learn to live in a state of constant anticipatory fear which causes an overactive startle reflex for the rest of one's natural life.  This may explain my strong aversion to Jack in the boxes, haunted houses, and pop up toasters.
  
Deciding who went first by picking a number between 1 and 10, heads or tails, drawing straws, or paper, rock and scissors.  The days of captains picking teams.  The sound of my Daddy whistling us home for supper.  Playing outside until the crickets started chirping and you just couldn't see anymore.  Mosquito bitten legs.  Cut off jean shorts.  Playing grocery store and cops and robbers.  Hopscotch.  Blind Man's Bluff.  Freeze tag.  Marbles.  I Spy.  Mud pies.  The Hokey Pokey.  Throwing a tennis ball on the roof and catching it.....over and over and over again.   The sweet juice from honeysuckle blossoms.  A pocketful of sour crabapples.  Red Kool-Aid.  Peanut butter and jelly.  Bactine and iodine. Band-Aids on both knees.   

Those were the good ole days when our only job was to play.  The only time constraint we had was dictated by the duration of sunlight.  The only worries we had were peeling the crust off our sandwich, digging the "stickers" out of our feet, and finding clothes pins for our bike spokes. 

What wouldn't we do to go back for just a couple of weeks of that? 

We might never want to come back to adulting. 
                              

What do you remember playing? 
                                  

14 comments:

  1. You hit it on the nail! Nowadays, for the most part, kids just want to play video games. My brother just comment to a friend on Facebook from our childhood talking about playing baseball in the street or alley until dark. Our neighborhood friends pretty much the played the games you posted. The treat mom made in the summer was frozen kool-aid popsicles, hit the spot! Fun times!
    Kathleen in Az

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    1. Yes! Kool-Aid popsicles made in the Tupperware set! Good times, Kathleen.

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  2. Oh, you always bring back such good memories! On what I know now must have been afternoons where we were on their last nerve, I can remember the teacher's taking us out to play Duck, Duck, Goose or Farmer in the Dell.

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    1. Carla, I forgot about those two!! Loved the Farmer in the Dell. The poor cheese.....always stood alone. :)

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  3. Wonderful memories! Another game we played was "Button, Button" and I've taught it to my own children who things it is great fun! I loved the carefree-ness of childhood and wonder if children today have the same sense of ease?

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    1. I can't help but think that they don't, Missy June. Most of them don't have time to stay home and play. Their schedules are too full. And "Button, Button" rings a bell but I can't remember how we played it. I'm going to google it. :)

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  4. What a great trip down memory lane!! I can honestly say that I played every single one of these games at least once throughout my childhood. It may have been a simpler time, but life was just so much sweeter back then.

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    1. Such a sweet time, wasn't it, Amanda? Let's go back! :)

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  5. Oh Joni...lucky you...Bony Joni...I was Joni Baloney...!
    Your bike was my dream, I never got a stingray...always a traditional bike/hand me down!
    You always touch me with your words. Thank you for always sharing with us, love your blog.

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    1. Ok, first......Joni Baloney was another one I got a lot! And lots of rhymes about "riding a pony while eating macaroni" and stuff like that. Only you could understand the struggle. :)

      And thank you so much for your sweet words. They mean more than you know, Joni. I appreciate you.

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  6. I remember all of those except Doggie, doggie... My best friend Diane and I used to play jacks. We'd sit on the floor for what seemed like hours. It taught great hand/eye coordination. In school on rainy days we played Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie jar. I loved Mother May I and Red Light Green light too. My mom used to make Kool Aid ice cubes.

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    1. Oh, Carol....your Mom was super cool!!! Kool-Aid ice cubes! I loved jacks, too, but I can't remember how we played "Who stole the Cookie". I'll have to google that one to refresh my memory. :)

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  7. Loved this! Laughed so hard and the memories gave me warm feelings. I played so many of these games. We lived in the country and lived outside. I loved throwing a ball on the sloping roof of the porch and catching it. Thanks for the memories.

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    1. We could find ways to entertain ourselves, couldn't we, Debbie? Sweet time of life, for sure. :)

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