Oh, For the Games We Once Played

I belong to a group of Old Geezers who provide me with support, friendship and great ideas. Every once and awhile I ask them to share their memories so I can share them with you. This is one of those times. Why? I've been thinking a lot about how different things are for our grand and great-grandchildren. We didn't have an electronic device in sight but we had fun.

I'll try to begin at the beginning when kids kicked a can because they didn't have a soccer ball. Sticks and rocks were baseball and hide and seek was serious business. Hopscotch was a great game if you could find chalk or had dirt soft enough to draw the course. All children who had a ball of any kind were very popular. Gosh I almost forgot, dice games of any kind were popular too... but I think that depended on where you lived. My first experience with dice was a game similar to Yahtzee. Buying games was not always a choice so I think a lot of us were pretenders. We did have marbles.

I have been reminded just how much crazy fun we had growing up. If you are like me... you forget about those days and just a mention of them brings it all back. Come to think of it, we were outdoors most of the time. We played cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, tag, hide and seek and so many other games. We tagged off on climbing trees, marking our highest point. Military kids played war games. All of us used weapons of our own creation and some of them were pretty funny but that didn't really matter. We were warriors all the same.

My brother and I were caught in a lemon grove using lemons as grenades. We were not politely asked to leave. That was nothing compared to when my Navy SeaBee Dad was told that we got in trouble playing Army. He didn't understand the fort concept and neither did the keeper of the lemon grove.

Forts... how many did we build? I still remember where some of them were. Washed out culverts were good but not as good as a barn. Barns, sheds and even old outhouses had lots of potential. Tree houses usually required help from an adult. It also required children who were able to climb a tree. This is the reason I live in a single story home. My brother, who climbed a tree like a monkey, could have built an oak tree high-rise. I got the poison oak at the base of the tree as I gazed up at him. Just one more reason for me to choose indoor games.

Indoor games? Of course there were always cards. A deck of 52 would last almost forever and I remember wiping them off when they got so sticky that you couldn't draw. As a kid I remember my mother playing solitaire. It was something she was very good at and she added a component to it that I will never forget. She played an imaginary game where each deck cost $52 and every card back paid $5 She kept a journal of her losses and wins. I think this game was a saving grace during the years my dad was so often deployed.

In the meantime we learned Monopoly and later, Scrabble. In both cases my brother would fold the game board when he tired of the game. To this day, I am wary of board games. Checkers and Chinese checkers would be included here. Neither of us learned chess but we did have Dominos and Cribbage.

There are some other words to send your mind spinning... hula hoops, Slinkys, Yo-Yo's, Hippity-Hops, yard darts (big mistake) and Slip and Slides. Some of these are still around. Others should never have been manufactured.

As a child, I learned hand clapping games. I jumped rope, too. When I look back at how complicated we made these games and how much fun they were, I have to laugh. We didn't need any manufacturer to help us.

One of the historical games we inherited was Croquet. As we grew up, married and became more affluent we bought this game and Badminton, too. Our games changed. You will notice that I have left out sack races, egg toss and a bunch of other events which were reserved for events and family picnics. As we got older there were other games like spin the bottle. I'll leave other teen party games to your own memory.

There is another category of games I can't leave behind... peek-a-boo! Bless all of you who played this game... and patty cake too! Have a good week my friends and thank you Old Geezers for your wonderful stories.

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