Be sure to visit Wendy at her blog http://jollettetc.blogspot.com/
I first discovered Wendy Mathias's blog Jollett, etc. during the A to Z Challenge. I was fascinated with her detailed accounts about her family history. Even though it wasn't my own family, I found the stories and accompanying photos to be interesting as well as entertaining. Wendy accepted my invitation to visit us here at Wrote By Rote with a story from her childhood.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
I’m a lousy neighbor. If it weren’t for our neighborhood directory I wouldn’t know who lives three doors away. But I can tell you the names of every family on Frailey Place where I grew up. There were eight houses on our block, and each one had kids to play with. And each one had a mother who gladly offered me a sandwich and Kool-Aid and who wasn’t afraid of offending my mother by calling me down for not playing nice or sending me home for staying too long.
For a short time my family lived in the apartment that my grandparents rented above their house. Their yard and their garage were my playground and the main neighborhood hangout. It was my grandparents’ property, so I was the boss and I made the rules. That’s only fair, right? Honestly, it’s a wonder anyone put up with me and this nonsense.
|My grandparents' house and garage|
at the corner of Gillis Road and Frailey Place
The garage made a suitable playhouse where we could construct walls from old window screens and chairs from old paint cans. Sometimes it was a house. Sometimes it was a school. Sometimes it was a hideout for robbers or for eagles that kidnapped children.
For my friends Peggy and Mary “Eagles” was their favorite game. (I think they made it up.) Peggy was oldest, which gave her first dibs at being the Eagle who would chase the children in this hybrid game of Tag and Hide’n’Seek. And it scared the living daylights out of me. Evidently I believed that kidnapping part.
My grandparents also had the longest sidewalk on the block, making it the preferred choice for Hop Scotch, Red Light Green Light, and Mother May I. It was also an acceptable place for roller skating, but the best skating spot was across the street at the Horniks’. Their driveway was divided by grass separating the two tire lanes leading to a carport. Our skates became cars as we drove up one tire lane and down the other. Round and round we went. Sometimes we lived dangerously zipping past “the car” ahead on one skate. In the carport we spun in circles, skated backwards, and practiced figure eights. Meanwhile just on the other side, the Horniks were conducting their accounting business out of their house, but never once did they shoo us away or tell us to hold it down. They don’t make adults like that anymore.
In the late afternoon, we played in the street. Yes, IN the street! The high school girls would gather to practice cheerleading. They jumped and touched their toes, then jumped again, contorting their bodies with backs arched and arms over their heads to form the letter “C” for Cradock High School. Oh, to be like Sherry, Barbara Ann and Betty!
|Anne, Mary, Peggy, and ME in dress-ups 1961|
I was inspired by a movie star
dressed in short shorts with a long flowing top.
But we were years away from such coolness. Peggy, Mary, Anne, Katherine, Donna, and I amused ourselves with jump rope instead. The slap of the long rope against the road always invited everyone to join in, even the cheerleaders from time to time. Games like High Water Low Water, Blue Bells Cockle Shells, I Love Coffee, I’m a Little Dutch Girl, Not Last Night, Peas Porridge Hot, Mabel Mabel Set the Table, and Down By the River tested our ability to jump, to turn around, to touch the ground, and to jump in and out without missing. If the rhyme called for “hot peppers,” it was sure to draw a crowd to help count.
As afternoon slipped into evening, Crack the Whip, Freeze Tag, or a game of Hide’n’Seek brought the boys out to play too. Not my game. Usually it was “my yard-my rules,” but this was a game I could not control. I was not a good hider and certainly not a good runner. Maybe I just didn’t like being a loser. I preferred to call it a night.
I’m not going to say my childhood was enchanted or magical. Nobody ever believes that. But it was pretty darn good.
Do you have childhood memories similar to Wendy's? What are some of the games that you played as a child? How have things changed for kids today? What has become better, if anything, and what are the biggest losses from yesteryear?