My Hula Hoop

A really cute and hilariously funny video popped up on facebook this week of a little girl trying to hula hoop and memories came flooding back.

Dance Queen

I was in second grade when the hula hoop and baton twirling rage hit by storm. All the girls came to school with the hoop or baton in tow. I was smitten and had to have a hula hoop. I was not as impressed with the baton. Mother agreed I could have one if I purchased it with my own money. They cost 60 cents plus tax. I got an allowance of 5 cents a week. The deal was I had to save my money and when I had half of it, she would buy it for me and then I could finish paying for it. The 5 cents a week was my weekly allowance for ice-cream on a stick that we could buy at school or I could choose to spend it on something frivilous such as a hula hoop. I diligently save my nickols for a total of twelve weeks with anticipation that equaled waiting for Christmas morning!

I can only imagine how cute and funny I was as I swayed and wiggled my hips until I finally mastered the art of hooping! I learned to not only maintain a good twirl around the waist but also the knees, ankles, neck and arms, and could switch from one arm to the other. A person who was really good could swirl it around the waist and drop it to their knees and back up without loosing their stride or use multiple hoops at once. A pro could have multiple hoops doing different things such as one on the arm and another around the waist! It also made a good jump rope.

I took good care of my hoop and always hung it up on a nail on the garage wall when I was done playing. I did not have to be reminded. But one day several years later disaster struck.

Mother was hosting a family reunion and there were lots of energetic cousins running around looking for fun things to do. Two boy cousins found my hoop and used it for tug of war. I saw it happening and went running and shouting to intervene but it was too late. My beloved hoop had popped apart. I was crushed. My hoop would never stay together after that but I refused to part with it. I had an invested twelve weeks of no ice-cream in that hoop! I have often wondered why daddy never tried to fix it.

When I got married at twenty, that broken hoop along with my bicycle, doll baby and a plastic toy boat were put in the back of Gene’s pickup for the trip to Powhatan where it was carefully stashed in a storage room.

Quite a few years later, I finally decided it was time to part ways with my hoop. After all, what good is a broken hula hoop? My grandchildren are not going to want it! It just really had no earthly value.

But it was more than just a broken hoop. It was something I bought and paid for with my own money. I valued ownership of it. I didn’t have many toys but what I did have I took care of as if they were valued treasures. My bicycle was always put in the garage when I was done riding. My doll was cared for as a baby, never thrown on the floor or tossed in a toy box. She had her own little bed and was tucked in every night. Susan is still in perfect condition and she was well loved and played with.

Me with Susan and my sister with her doll Phyllis.

I don’t remember ever getting new toys on a whim except for the plastic boat. Mother came home from town one day with a small plastic boat for each of us children. We played with our boats for hours in the creek meandering through the farm. We received one gift at Christmas and one on our birthday. Toys were a luxury we valued. Our play mostly consisted of creative outdoors activities such as climbing trees, hide and seek, sliding on the garage roof, riding bike, and playing in the creek or barn. My sister and I spent hours in our playhouse pretending to be grown up moms. We each had our own playhouse room in the old smoke house behind the house. We used rocks for food and discarded tin cans for containers. If it rained, we played board games inside.

Today kids do not value their toys. They have an abundance with overflowing toy boxes even when they are toddlers and could care less. They receive many gifts at Christmas, elaborate birthday parties and on the whim, stuff in between. I watch children in town throw a hissy fit, crying and yelling, to have a new gadget they just then happened to spy. If you watch, the mother almost always gives in. They get it at no patience, no anticipation or sacrifice on their part just because they can. As kids we used to pour over the Sears and Pennys catalogs weeks before Christmas trying to narrow our lustful desires down to one toy.

Then I remember my hula hoop and wonder, have we done our children any favors?


  1. Peggy DUNN Said:

    I relate perfectly to your story, and agree, we do children no favors giving every toy asked for. There is a certain dignity in anticipation and having fewer things, which are then truly valued.

  2. Ilva Arlene Hertzler Said:

    Oh Pat!!! that was a heart-jerker.. Thank you..

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