A few days ago there was a discussion on television about a recent trend for people (wealthy ones, I must assume) to hire a professional to teach their children how to play. I am dumbfounded by the very thought. My assumption is that the teaching was mostly directed at playing with others. But, still. . . .
So, I am thinking about what we did for play when my sisters and I were growing up.
To begin with, we did not have rooms overflowing with toys. We had some, but not many. There were no TVs; computers, video games, and all the electronic wonders had not yet been invented. Parents could not just go to the local discount store (there weren't any) and buy a nice swing set, plastic sand box, plastic wading pool, etc., for their kids.
|Cousin Jackie Mackey, Brownie, Me, Pinkie in the sandbox. In the upper right side, part of the top of the swings can be seen. So few photos were taken in the back yard that this is the only |
one with the swing I could find. Circa 1949/50.
Some other things we did:
- We played house--in the summertime the front porch was an ideal "house."
- We played a lot of running, jumping, horsing around type games with the neighborhood kids--cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians (yes, we absolutely did have cap guns and none of us grew up to be murderers), tag, statues, Red Rover, Mother May I, and just generally chasing around.
- We roller skated--not the kind of skates kids have today, but the kind that you tightened onto the soles of your shoes with a skate key, and which could be adjusted lengthwise as your feet grew. They were, of course, outdoor skates. We could skate on the sidewalks all around our block, and, if Mama gave permission, could cross the street at the north end of our block and skate on the sidewalks around the grade school. That was the absolute best skating, because those walks were very smooth and wide. We played cops and robbers on skates at the school sidewalks.
- We learned to walk on stilts--which Daddy made for us by cutting 2x4's to the proper length and nailing a block of wood about 12 to 18 inches above the bottom end for foot rests.
- We played with toy cars. The fun part about that was creating roadways, tunnels, and bridges in the dirt for the cars to drive on.
- We dug holes. Our backyard was not planted in lawn. It was dirt. A large portion of it would be garden in the summertime, but the play area between the garden and the alley was good old dirt. A kid can think of a lot of reasons to dig a hole.
- We played hopscotch on the front sidewalk. We didn't even need chalk to draw our hopscotch game out. Our street was not paved. From time to time the city would put down a new layer of shale. We could always find good marking rocks with which to draw on the sidewalk.
- We explored the ditch. The big Burlington drainage ditch ran across the end of our block. It usually was dry, and it was deep. In the ditch we could feel like explorers in a strange land, unseen by anyone else. True, Mama didn't let us get out of her eyesight very often, but once in a while we made it to the ditch.
- We made hollyhock dolls.
- We lay on the grass and watched the clouds and daydreamed.
- We chased grasshoppers, picked up ladybugs, dug fishworms, and watched the daddy-long-legs on the side of the house.
- We ran through the sprinkler on hot summer days.
- We ran races with each other.
- We learned to ride bicycles on a collection of secondhand bikes.
We were never bored.
(We also read a lot of books!)