Paper Pebbles an Pieces of Plastic

Today I took time for a half an hour of whimsy.  I met my parents for lunch and they had with them my eight-year-old niece who had just been introduced to “Hangman”.  So she and I partook in a couple of games in between bites of ham and cheese sandwiches.


I have to admit

I had fun.

It wasn’t boring or unsophisticated.  It was an uncomplicated way to spend my lunch hour.

And I got to thinking, as I often do (sometimes to my own chagrin) about all the childhood games we used to play that were simple and CHEAP.  A time before video games so invasively and obnoxiously invaded our lives.  Now, I admit to getting sucked into the void of oblivion and spending an entire afternoon on my Game Boy, but you have to admit there is just no charm in electronics.

Remember the days of Hangman?  Remember Jacks?  Marbles?  Hopscotch?  I wonder how many children nowadays have participated in any of these. Skipping rope?  How often do you see children skipping rope in playgrounds today.  They’re all gathered around the lucky bloke who brought his DS to the park all loaded up with Mario and Brothers Grand Auto Raiding X-men…

or something of that sort.

In the fourth grade we used to play on the elephant shaped monkey bars equipped with a slide that served as a trunk.  It was a spaceship.   And if it wasn’t a spaceship that lunch hour then it was an ark (not a ship, but for some reason, but an ark).  We drew hopscotch grids on the pavement.  There was also a game where, with a piece of chalk you drew a circle on the pavement. The circle was then divided into pie pieces and on each pie piece was written a category.  Each person tossed a pebble onto one of the categories.  If it fell on “colours”, for example, you’d then  hop, hop on one segment and sing “blue, bluuee”. Hop onto another, “red re-ed”. Hop. “Yellow, yell-low.” etc.  But if your pebble landed on a tough category and you couldn’t easily think of examples, you were hopping on one foot for quite a while.  “Complex chemical compounds” was always a tough one.

Hula Hoops!  My mom had one.  It was white.  One evening, while playing in the dark, we discovered it was fluorescent.  That made it even cooler.

Super Slider Snow Skates!  Red pieces of plastic you’d tie to your boots and slide all over the school yard.  You’d hang onto the tail of someone’s jacket and he’d pull you until you fell, or tripped.  Or , if you were feeling really brave, you’d attempt sliding down a hill standing up!

And don’t forget Crazy Carpets.  We had a blue one.  It’s black handle snapped off, but Mom and Dad would still let us take it to school to slide down the BIG HILL.

Spool Knitting, crokinole, lawn darts (now illegal), that crazy plastic sheet that you could colour, wash, and then colour again.  Doodle Art! View Finders! Cat’s Cradle. Paper Dolls.

It was all so fun back then,

the concept of play.

We could get absorbed with the simplest of objects or in the simplest of games and the use of our imaginations.

We could be entertained by paper, pebbles and mere pieces of plastic.

What toys and games were your favorite growing up?  Ones that required no electricity, battery power or complicated assemblage?


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