Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Games People Play

The other day I was thinking about all the games and activities Kathy and I found to do growing up on the ND prairie in the middle of nowhere. When we were kids, in the summer we always played outside, probably cuz Mom was out more than in the house herself, gardening, mowing etc. We made mud pies, and played with our favorite barn cats a lot. We had doll clothes Mom sewed with tail holes cut in them. Kathy had gotten a blue buggy from Santa and mine was red. The cats were always good natured and just lay in the buggies all bundled up with bonnets and carefully swaddled extra tight like you must do with cats ha. I guess not knowing that babies don’t walk, my cat kept escaping one day only to get slung back in my buggy, a little rougher each time…until he pooped in the clothes, on the blanket and in my buggy! Mom wasn’t too happy about that mess her Grankitty made! Guess he really did need to get out…oops! We had a couple of big rusty barrels we walked on which was quite a feat in itself… considering the grass grew in clumps and going over a clump was good cause for a hard spill. But we showed our skills to random visitors I remember. Other times we put a board across the barrel and teeter tottered.

We always rode horses, starting out with big work horses cuz Dad thought they were smoother and easier to stay on cuz they were mighty wide. First thing in the morning, one of us would carry the box of cereal and our own bowl and spoon,  and the other would carry the milk and her own bowl and spoon. We’d ride somewhere in the trees with tall grass so the horses would be content to eat and stay still.  Kix tasted extra good turned around backwards, bowl on the horses rump, and in your jammies still! We were free spirits, never scared of strangers or any of that, never scared of falling off the the huge horses,…wood ticks and bees were all we were scared of.  Life was simple, laying on the lawn, watching the clouds moving, and talking about God, wondering how he watched over a world so big.

In the winter we played Indian maidens, ( you could do that in the fifties when we were born). We had “Indian” cousins that we loved very much so it was never a negative thing to be "Indian" in our family.  With made up names that screamed creativity, I was always Red Bird and she was Blue bird , honorably named after our favorite colors ( sometimes I wonder now, if red is really my favorite color or if I was branded with it long ago ha.) We each made forts in the snow and visited each other using lingo from the western movies we'd seen. No one ever died and nothing was ever to serious we were just good Indian neighbors.I am not being insensitive, just describing life back then.

We made snowmen in the spring when it was warm enough for the snow to actually stick together, and slide down the hill when the snow was hard, and shiny from the frigid wind. You could use a real sled that had blades you could steer with. You wouldn’t even sink in…and travel a long ways. When we got older we would take the manure scoop down to the water hole and push the snow off  of it to skate. By the time we got the snow off, we were almost too pooped to skate,  but I still remember the quietness, just sitting there resting. The quiet was unreal, I miss that stillness sometimes, but only for a bit. Fox and Goose was another of our favorite games but it usually ended in us fighting for some reason. Kathy probably outrun me and I cut the pie or something I dunno.

When we got a little older we played Barbie and Ken a lot. Kathy had dark haired dolls and mine were blond. I always secretly liked hers better. For some reason Mom got me a blonde Barbie and a dark haired Ken so I traded Kens with Sara Nyberg so both of mine were blonde. Mom made us many, many Barbie clothes that I still have today. We didn’t have Barbie accessories, well Kathy had a Midge I guess with three wigs...but mostly we had just the dolls and lots of clothes for their wardrobe suitcases. We loved those dolls!

Probably some of the most laughable times were from roller skating. We got the clip on your shoes roller-skates for Christmas on year. They worked best on cowboy boots that had a hard sole. Tennis shoes made your toes scrunch together and they came off. We used to roller-skate in the house when Mom was trying to cook. We’d clear out rugs, push the table back and skate. She tolerated all that until one of us fell and tore the dish towel rod off the wall on the way down!  Then she banished us to a swept out grain bin. We’d string our cord for a radio out there from the yard pole,  get it all tuned in to KCJB, and prepare to skate. Have you ever skated in a grain bin with two rods in it cutting it up like a pie cut in four pieces? Pretty hard to get your speed on! One kernel of stray grain (and there were many), was enough to make you biff it! Never liked that grain bin skating. I can still smell it if I try, but desperate to skate we were!

We were lucky enough to grow up in a house with a tall ceiling in the kitchen. We could tied a double jump rope to the junk drawer handle and one of us twirl and the other jump and recite jump rope rhymes, complete with the actions… like:

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Touch the ground.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Touch your shoe.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
That will do.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Go upstairs.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Say your prayers.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn out the light.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Say good night!

Every once in awhile Mom would jump in with us.Then of course there was Chinese jumprope which was sure to get a rumble out of Mom with that stretched across the stool legs taking up the kitchen with more fighting of course!

Hop Scotch…we were the queens of hopscotch and fighting, IF you stepped on the chalk line, IF you balanced with your other foot or IF you broke the rules. We used to hop scotch in the basement in the dry years, drawing our game out over the chipped up damp cement. We loved it though!

Jacks anyone? We played jacks till we had dirty callouses on our right hand little fingers from swiping the floor 98,741,231,478 times a day. Oh the fights we had… whether the ball did or didn’t bounce, whose turn it was, what we were on when we missed last time…all that.

When our cousins would come for a visit we loved to play red light, green light and hope to see a ghost tonight under the yard light. Our parents all played cards late into the night…no alcohol, no partying...some fresh coffee and good food,  just family fun.

We rode our bikes a lot, even though Mom tried to kill me by not putting it together right, and the front wheel came off half way down the grade, and I did a nose dive in the gravel...I stood on the side of the road bawling, holding the wheel and watching Kathy speed on home to get Mom! Little rocks embedded in my knees, and hands burning like fire with the skin scrapped off. Pretty soon here came handywomen Mom with a wrench to put the wheel on and Tincture Merthiolate! Before long I was riding my 24" new blue bike again, this time the wheel was on good and tight.

Life seemed really simple. I had a wonderful childhood, as probably every kid thinks they did…it was after all, your childhood. I remember my Mom telling about how they rolled tires around for fun when she was a kid,  and thinking... ok..guess if you think it would be fun in the olden days :).

Go back in your memories. What games did you play? Relive the fun you had in your mind. Tell your kids about your life. I am so glad I had my little sister to play with, and fight with, but in the end its all love and laughs. I wish you lots of both!