Monday, October 19, 2015

120 Acre Playground

 We did not have a lot of supervision as children, except from each other and this gave us a  LOT of time to play. Most of our play was outdoors, unlike today. I can't imagine a childhood with ear plugs in my ears and the internet my only friend.

Back then, we had mainly homemade toys such as these great stilts that Daddy made. You took a straight piece of 2x4 and whittled  the top for hand holders and left the body large then smaller again at the bottom to walk on. Daddy took two wedges and attached them half way up the 5 foot piece of pine and this was what we stood on. When we were very little, we would get up on the bumper of the car to get on them and off we would go. We could walk for miles on those stilts without falling and it was fun play and great exercise. Sometimes the boys would have us get up on their shoulders and then get on the stilts and play chicken!

 Each of us had two store bought toys from the 5 and dime in Jay. When we would go there it was better than Christmas. We went from wooden bin to  wooden bin seeing that array of toys trying to figure out what we wanted to buy. Every thing caught my eye but one of those times, I chose a blue top. It was a spiraling piece of wood painted blue with a nail coming out of the center of the bottom for spinning. And man would it spin. When daddy was at work, we would spin it in the house on the tile floor and it would spin and spin. Sometimes we wound the rope wrong and it popped off in another direction spiraling out of control, instead of spinning. It is a wonder we did not put our eyes out with those things. lol. I don't know if they make them like that anymore. If they do, I am certain that it comes with a warning label.

The other and my favorite, was a wooden Duncan Yo-yo.. Oh my, did I spend many happy hours with the string around my finger practicing my , "walk the dog", or "the baby Cradle" and I got pretty good at it. I could walk that yo-yo across the living room floor right into the kitchen, but I was never as good as Ernest was.  He could make it just spin in one position for what seemed like an eternity to me. He would whip his wrist downward in a snapping motion and the yo-yo would go down near the floor and just spin, then he would flick his wrist and his string would come back into the yo-yo in a singular motion and it never got all twisted up like mine often did.

We also played with a large wooden or plastic button tied onto a double string.  The button was in the middle and you took both ends and whirled them around and around. When it was twisted up tight, you gently pulled on the ends with your hands and wahlah, you had a twisty button that I spent literally hours playing with.  It was so much fun.

Sometimes Daddy brought home huge gophers that he had trapped. If you have never trapped a gopher, you find the hole that is their home, dig a hole in front of their entrance and put a bucket in it.  Then you cover it with grass and go away. The next day if the gopher was in their home, it was in your bucket and you had dinner.. Before he cleaned them, we got to ride them around the yard. Some of them were very large and we were tiny kids so we would climb up on top with one kid on the gopher and another kid on either side and have ourselves a ride. The gophers would lumber down the driveway and then the next kid would take a turn. I don't think we ever hurt the gopher but when I grew up, I realized that was probably not a good way to treat an animal.

It was such fun to jump off the swing with a towel around my neck trying to fly. And it took way longer than it should for me to realize that I was not going too. LOL.  

We called Doodle bugs and played when them when they answered our call. You found one of them in the sand by looking for a mound of sand that had a swirling whirlpool pattern to it.  Then you took your finger and went round and round the top of the sand house until the bug came to the top all the while chanting. "doodle bug, doodle bug, your house on fire. Gimme cup of water an' I'll put it out!"  Or   " doodle bug, doodle bug, come out of your hole".. Daddy called them potato bugs but I never found out what they are really called.

We played with old tires, rolling them around the yard and down the hill and when the boys tired of me following them, they would stack them around me so that I could not climb out or move much for fear of them falling over on me. They would usually come back and get me in a couple of hours. I was a kid that had a tire for a babysitter. I wonder if anyone else ever had that happen to them. lol. I am laughing now thinking of the boys doing that, but back then, I would get spitting mad at them for leaving me if they left me too long and I would call them to come get me. I still remember the smell of the tires around and counting them over and over til I was free. They would make short work at getting me out if they heard daddy's truck coming. lol.

In short,  we spent our days on a 120 acre playground. We rolled tires, played marbles, jumped rope, played hopscotch and swung on the swing daddy made us from a tree, shot firecrackers off underneath hubcaps, tied strings on June Bugs for our "Kite", caught fireflies in jars at night, played with our homemade button twirls,  tops, jacks, and those were happy hours for me. I hope that these memories brought back some of your own happy times playing outside.

(google Image)

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