Friday, March 18, 2005


I have noticed when GD (Granddaughter) visits, her favorite occupations are listening and dancing to videos and playing "The Sims" on the computer. I shake my head in dismay as I think with that biased view that we all seem to adopt as we grow older, that there is so much more to life than computer games and videos. This thought got me thinking about the more proper past times of my childhood. These are just some of the things that my friends and I did.

We went on bike rides. GD did that with a neighbour yesterday as well. We scoured the woods for mushrooms and wild berries. We played a variety of games. On rainy days we played ‘Jacks’. That game requires a great deal of skill which meant hours and hours of practicing slow ball bounces and quick hand grabs. We played marbles, horseshoes, and baseball. We played something called ‘7-Up’ with a rubber ball against the shed. It involved a series of body movements and synchronized ball bounces that makes me wonder now why this game is not part of the World Olympics. We played ‘Anti-I-Over’. A game where two teams gather on each side of the house or garage and throw the ball over the roof (and all too frequently through a window). If the player on the other side of the building caught the ball, he ran around the house and tagged someone on the opposing team and then they were out. But there were consequences to having this much fun. We all suffered serious losses of our allowance money to replace windowpanes.

We built exotic farms beside a sandy driveway with houses and outbuildings formed of damp sand. Nothing made roads as precise as an empty Prem or Spork can. With that kind of road-building equipment, our roads were pothole-free, all of equal width, and all had the correct engineering slope on those high-speed corners. We made fences out of tiny twigs, haystacks out of ferny plants. We planted gardens with miniature bluebells or violets. After heavy rains, we drove about the streets and called out crews to build bridges or dig dikes. We even made road signs for road construction or sharp turns (toothpicks supporting tiny paper flags).

It was a kind of ‘Sim City’ with all the sights and sounds of a busy metropolis. While my brother made awesome motor sounds interrupted by gear shifting revs in his D-8 Spork or Prem-Can-Bulldozer, I was driving my sleek wooden block, an imaginary Caddy convertible, down smooth roads past fields and flowers while playing country music on my car radio. I had to sing and mimic a radio DJ because I couldn’t roll my lips and tongue properly to make a motor sound without spitting all over the village. (Never could effectively make motor sounds, and still can’t. If you want any R’s rolled, don’t look my way.)

In the evenings we built huge bonfires. We cut up old tire tubes and made drums out of oil cans or metal pails and ties the rubber skins to the pails. We danced around our bonfires and played a pagan beat that was a perfect duplication of GD’s favorite video that she asked me to listen to yesterday. The words we sang were similar. Gutteral sounds that were loud but indestinguishable. Words and phrases that lacked any meaning. And we danced, as she does, with interpretive body movements.

Hey, I just realized life hasn’t changed that much after all. When I was a kid, even without modern technology, I pursued the same passions as GD. I played ‘Sims’ with the Sim family that lived in the sand by the driveway and I danced to music with the same sound and beat as the videos she listens to. So really, has a whole lot changed?

So now I’m interested to know if you played the games I played as a child. And if not, what games did you play?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I have a difficult time remembering what I did for fun before the advent of computers. I was one of the early adopters and remember when the internet was just TEXT! :)

I think I read more books than I do now (hardcopy anyway), and I certainly watched more television. I rode my bike a lot. And I recall giving fishing a try in the local pond, but I couldn't bare to have them hooked because it made me sad, so I got a pair of pliers and clamped down the barbs on my fishook. If a fish was silly enough to actually get caught and not get himself off the line, it was easy for me to remove the hook from his mouth if he hadn't swallowed it. Eventually, I found fishing for a pasttime to be too cruel.

I was also a fan of Legos.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops, that was me. Sorry. :)

-- Aurora/A Wicked Muse

3:07 PM  
Blogger coffee goddess said...

ahh, the days of BBS...

I suppose we are 'dating ourselves' aren't we.

I remember the days when watching TV meant pulling up a rocking chair arms-length away from an 8in box and waiting a good minute or two for the white line to grow into a black and white image. You had to sit that close in order to reach the broken knob with your pliers in order to turn back and forth between the two channels. I can still hear the hum of the Beachcombers theme music. I was in junior high when the folks finally went colour and was horrified at the discovery one day (flicking through now three channels) that Gerome (Giraff) was purple and orange (!!!!) on the Friendly Giant.

I recall TV being something that was only on when we were home from school having lunch (do kids do this anymore either?), rainy days, or Sunday nights when Wonderful World of Disney came on after dinner (which was agony because "Hymn Sing" was on first). Gosh, I'm really dating myself now, eh?

Anyway, my memories include a neighborhood treefort war that lasted over three years! Everykid old enough to hold a hammer or wooden survey stake turned broad sword took part. Teams changed regularly but we spent the entire spring to fall period stealing spare bits of lumber from neighboring housing developments and making our forts. Huge complicated multi-roomed split levels spanning the branches of the enormous weeping willows that comprised the overgrown abandonned golf course across the street.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Robin, I can just 'feel the fun'. I really enjoyed reading your comments especially about the club-house construction.

I agree about the TV needing to be shut down some of the time. When my kids were little, weekend mornings, no TV. Not until after lunch. It wasn't much of a respite, but it was better than nothing.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

"Moody B.C." sent me this comment by e-mail.

"Thanks so much for the 7-up. I played it as a child in the 70's in Ontario, and children out here in B.C. just look at you strange when you suggest throwing a ball against the wall and singing a song and doing some moves. We had a lot of more games we played like that, but for the life of me I cannot remember any of the moves or lyrics. Any other ball game memories out there?"

Hi Moody, thanks for commenting. Glad you found something here that was fun to reminisce about. Hope you'll drop by again soon.

Sorry that I inadvertently shut down comments on this post. And so here is yours...and comments are reopened for others to bring almost-forgotten games to this page.

2:14 AM  

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