Today’s one-word prompt is playful.
Early last evening, my husband and I decided to go walk a few laps at a local park that we had not frequented in some time. It’s a small park but very nice and peaceful with a paved walking area around the perimeter of the park, ball fields, a newly renovated playground, picnic pavilions, splash pad, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, an outdoor amphitheater, and a community center. As my husband and I watched kids playing on the playground, roller skating, and bicycling, we began reminiscing how it had not been all that long (or so it seemed) that we were bringing our own two sons to this same park to roller skate or play on the play ground. Yes, it seems like only yesterday that I was helping our sons don their protective gear of helmets, knee and elbow pads and protective gloves. This led into a discussion of when my husband and I were children and we talked about the olden days of recess times and PE classes in elementary school.
Most of my fond memories of childhood revolve around playing. I was saddened recently when I was told that recess times have just about been abolished in our schools. Or if they have them, they’ve been reduced to 5-10 minutes. I seem to recall in elementary school we had both a PE period and then a recess time. I remember the PE teacher lining us up on the playground for organized exercises: jumping jacks, toe touches, running, etc. Then there were organized games of kickball, softball, four square, etc. Recess time involved free play where we spent countless minutes climbing monkey bars, sliding down a hot metal slide, playing tag, king of the mountain, hopscotch, jumping rope, walking across a horizontal telephone poll to test our balance, or jumping small metal hurdles. If it rained on recess day, then the teacher led us in games of Eraser Tag or Heads Up 7-Up in the classroom. One teacher often used to let us make pop corn on rainy days but you had to be able to make a paper hat out of a piece of notebook paper. That was your popcorn “bowl.”
The neighborhood I grew up in was full of children, a real kid haven. We played outside from morning to evening. My sisters and I and most of our neighborhood friends had metal swingsets that provided hours of entertainment. We rode bikes (banana seat bicycles were big then), played kickball, organized softball games, played group jump rope games, flew kites, skated, swam, climbed trees, explored the woods, walked or rode our bikes to the local five-and-dime or the local drugstore for a chocolate sundae or a cherry smash drink. We played in sprinklers or the hose pipe (and yes we drank out of it too and we lived to tell about it)! At night, our parents would call us in for dinner, we’d eat, but then we’d gather again outside to play “night games” such as flashlight tag, hide and seek, or Ghosts in the Graveyard. Sometimes we would have neighborhood camp outs where we slept out on someones back porch or patio or sometimes we’d throw blankets over a backyard tree for a homemade tent. In the winter time, we were outside too. In the south snow was rare, so a real treat when it did fall. We built snowmen or snow forts or igloos, had snowball fights and went sled riding until we were so cold that we couldn’t feel our toes, fingers or noses. We’d run home, remove our galoshes and many layers of clothing, throw our damp and cold socks and clothes in the dryer while my mom warmed us up with a steaming bowl of soup or chili and sandwiches. Then we’d dress again in our now warm and dry clothes and off we’d go to play in the snow all over again. We made snow cream too (when it was supposedly thought to be safe to consume). I can still remember my mother sending me out with the big green mixing bowl to fill with snow.
By Photo: Uploader (Kateshortforbob), object: Russ, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14763843
Our neighborhood was mostly girls, so we played dolls a lot, Barbie’s (of course), paper dolls, and playing with troll dolls was popular. We also colored, painted, played board games, made creepy crawlers, made pot holders, played dress-up and pretended to be pioneers. We made cakes in my sister’s Easy Bake Oven. We got together and played records for hours on our portable record players. We had summer Kool-Aid or lemonade stands and bake sales. And we could entertain ourselves for hours with a little 10 cent balsa airplane, usually flying it until it broke and couldn’t be flown anymore or until it got stuck way up in a tree. There was no end to the creativity of our imaginations back then.
It seemed play was never-ending in those days. What are some of your favorite childhood memories associated with play? I’d love to read your comments.