Rodd's Ramblings: Variety ruled how kids once passed the time boys enjoyed
June 12, 2020
I saw something unusual the other day while visiting some neighbors down the street. They have three kids and the two boys were outside playing what appeared to be a game of tag. Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and ’60s — before video games — know what the game of tag is all about, but I am guessing you don’t find kids playing it as often now compared to back in the good old days.
As I was walking home from their house it got me thinking about how things have changed over the years. I am not talking so much about how technology has changed, but about how technology has changed the way kids interact with each other.
Nowadays kids can sit in their room and play games on their video screens against other kids who live in other states. They can test their skills against people from all over the world if they like, but I think what is lost is the skills of interacting with friends in the neighborhood.
So I started making a list of games we played outside with brothers, sisters, and others from the neighborhood: kick the can, red rover, hide and seek, eenie einie over, hopscotch, four square, dodgeball, marbles, jump rope, kickball and red light, green light were games we played all the time. Many a summer night was spent playing at least one, and sometimes many of those games in the backyards of my neighborhood. Kids from all around the block would show up and get in on the fun.
There were the standard games of baseball, football, basketball and hockey that were always played outside, but when boredom set in you just found something else to do. If it was raining you could go in the house and play games like jacks, yo-yo, slinky, duck duck gray duck (not “goose”), button button who’s got the button, hot potato, Yahtzee and all kinds of card games.
Of course there were other games that got us into trouble back then, and usually ended up in some kind of argument as well. Things like leg wrestling, thumb wars, crack the whip at the skating rink, pump-pump pull away, hand slap or even mumblety peg.
Some games we played are still around today, but I feel many of these have been lost for kids today, and I am not sure that is a good thing. For whatever reason, those games made life a lot of fun. We interacted, which helped develop social skills.
A big part of interacting as kids was that you learned the art of poking your friends with a good verbal jab when you beat them at something. You also learned very quickly that you could expect that to be reciprocated when they got the better of you. It helped you learn to cope when things didn’t go the way you had hoped.
Another thing that these games provided us was a way to increase our physical skills when we didn’t even realize that’s what we were doing.
Playing hopscotch taught us how to jump.
Playing eenie einie over taught us how to throw a ball over the house and run around to the other side to not get hit by the ball.
Playing slap hands helped to develop hand speed.
Using a yo-yo developed dexterity.
Dodgeball made you learn to use your feet and be nimble. and rollerskating helped to teach balance.
When kids stay in the house and look at a computer all day I believe they are missing out on far more than what they are gaining, but I have been wrong before.
I feel sorry that many kids today will never learn what it is like to own a leather marble bag filled with marbles. They won’t know what it is like to learn goofy sayings like “I wish I may, I wish I might, I wish to see a ghost tonight,” “Tag, you’re it,” or “Red Rover, Red Rover …” and the list goes on.
I guess I must be really getting old, but for me those games brought back a lot of great memories, and I hope it did for you.
WKLK radio personality Kerry Rodd writes sports for the Pine Knot News.