Archive for Memories

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?

Oh The Games We Played

Recently I posted on facebook a comment about the games I remembered playing as a youngster. The response was so interesting, resulting in a trip down memory lane for many of us. It was funny how we had trouble remember the names of the games or even how to play them. But we remembered bits and pieces. That must be a sign of our age! I didn’t remember that so many were rough and tumble, contact games that involved chasing, tagging, catching, running into each other or hitting another with a ball. Parents today would probably shutter at the thought of their snowflakes playing these games. We all had memories; mostly good and few bad. I thought I would list the games. The descriptions came from the people who listed the game.

  • Tag, Freeze Tag: One person is it and runs to tag another. The tag person is now it and does the tagging. In Freeze Tag when you are tapped you have to freeze exactly as you are until someone unfreezes you. The goal is to get everyone frozen.
  • Hopscotch, Russian Hopscotch: Russian Hopscotch was similar to Hopscotch but consisted of 2 sets of three large squares side by side. We’d throw the rock into successive squares and hop with one foot into the squares with no rock, not touching the line or falling and pick up the rock.
  • Red Rover: Two teams line up facing each other holding hands in a horizontal line. One team says, “Red rover, red rover send dear _______ (person’s name on other team) over”. That person runs over and tries to break through the line. If unsuccessful, they have to join that team.
  • Piggy Wants a Beckon: It is a version of Hide and Seek that can go on for a long time. “Piggy wants a beckon” is what a player shouts from base when they are caught. You need to see someone that is hiding wave their stick to you… beckon…before you are free to steal away from base.
  • Dodge Ball
  • Basketball
  • H-O-R-S-E: Competition between two or more people shooting basketballs. One person would shoot a basket. The next person had to copy the exact same stanza and distance. If they succeeded they got to be the leader. If they failed, they earned an “H” and that continued until someone spelled H-O-R-S-E and they were the loser.
  • Hide and Seek
  • Softball
  • Prisoner’s Base
  • Badminton
  • Croquet
  • Horseshoes
  • Button, button, who has the button? (Or thimble)
  • No Bears Out Tonight: We would take off from the porch, run around the trees by the road and have to get back to the porch without being caught by the “bear” (another sibling), who was hiding in the darkness to chase us down.
  • Annie Over: Form two teams, one on each side of a building and we would throw a ball over the roof to the other team, while yelling “Annie over” – if they caught it in the air, they would run around the house to try to tag someone before they got to the other side of the house. If they missed it, they threw it back, again shouting “Annie Over.”
  • Mother May I: One person is “mother” and everyone else lines up in a vertical line about 25 feet away from “mother”. Mother gives each player a command. They have to say, “Mother may I” before beginning to do what mother requests such as take 2 steps forward, etc. If they don’t, they have to go back to the starting line. The person who makes it to mother first wins.
  • Kick Ball
  • Jump Rope, Run Through the School
  • Football
  • Blind Man’s Bluff: We tied a man’s hanky around our eyes and you had to find someone and guess who they were.
  • One O’clock Ghost: A form of Hide and Seek
  • Burney Ball: The person who submitted this said, “the players stood in a circle and a bouncy ball was thrown into the air. That’s all I remember”.
  • Twister
  • Old Gray Wolf: A form of Hide and Seek
  • Marbles
  • Bum, Bum (New Orleans Here I Come): We would divide into two teams. One team would figure out something to act out and tell the other team only the first letter of each word and act it out. Then the team doing the guessing would ask the questions and the team doing the acting would answer. Where you from? New Orleans. What’s your trade? Lemonade. Get to work and show us something. When guessing what they were doing was correct, the “acting people” turn and run back to their home base without getting tagged. Losers transfer to the opposite team until one team wipes out the other.
  • Football
  • Drop the Hanky: Everyone forms a circle. The player who is “it” runs around the outside of the circle and drops the hanky behind a player who picks it up and tries to catch the one who dropped it. Whoever makes it to the spot where the hanky was dropped is safe and the other has to go around the circle and drop the hanky behind another player.
  • Duck, Duck, Goose
  • Bouncy Ball: A schoolyard game where players hit a bouncy ball against a wall, using their hands. The game requires the ball to be hit to the floor before hitting the wall.
  • Run For Your Supper
  • Four Square
  • Crack the Whip

Besides all that, we caught lightning bugs, played in the creeks, climbed trees, went fishing, swam in the creeks/rivers, ice skated on the ponds, roller skated in the basement/sidewalks, sledded down the hills, walked on stilts, rode bikes on the road, slide down metal roofs, walked the top rail of the board fence, and took the gullible on snipe hunts. A lot of our friends and family had hay barns which were great fun. Those were the days when all the hay was square baled and stacked/piled in big barn. We loved to climb the mountains of hay, build tunnels and forts and swing from the rafters. Us girls did all of these fun activities in our dresses!

Our yard swings hung from long ropes hanging from the tallest tree, not a chain from an eight foot metal A-frame. At our home the big elm tree close to the house made for the perfect swing. We could go upstairs, crawl out the bedroom window onto the front porch roof and jump off the roof with the swing that was thrown up to us. It was thrilling, however, I never got brave enough to do that daring feat!

You can see our swing hanging at the corner of the house from the tree.

We had a good childhood. Our play was creative, competitive and interactive. We were not afraid to get dirty and didn’t worry about getting hurt. I wonder how many of today’s children know what half of these games are. The only telephone we played was the gossip game. We would sit in a line and first person would whisper something in someone’s ear and then would repeat it to the next person to the end of the line. The end result was often hilarious.

These were only the outdoor games. We had a whole arsenal of fun indoor games. That is a post for another time!

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