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GAMES WE PLAYED AS KIDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 29, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

It’s interesting what you can learn just sitting on a park bench. Not long ago, I was down at Crystal Beach, a local park and pier on the Gulf of Mexico where I was enjoying some Florida sunshine and waiting for the sunset when I happened to overhear some kids who were bored and looking for something to do. In the course of the conversation they talked about their favorite games; they mentioned: “Call of Duty,” “Batman: Arkham City,” and “Portal 2.” Only then did I realize they were talking about computer video games and got me thinking about the games I played as a child growing up in Connecticut.

Back then, the emphasis was to get out of the house and get some fresh air. We were fortunate to live in a wooded countryside with a stream running through our backyards in the community. We spent a lot of time swimming and fishing in the stream, where we mostly caught brook trout. The only organized sport we played back then was Little League baseball, but it seemed we were always playing a pickup game regardless where we were.

We drove our bicycles everywhere; to school, to the baseball fields, and to the store. One of our favorite endeavors was to canvas the neighborhood to collect used soft drink bottles and take them to the grocery store where we turned them in for the deposit (two cents for a regular bottle, three cents or a nickle for a quart bottle). We would then take the money and play a round of putt-putt golf at a nearby range, and stop off at a country store to buy penny candy; e.g., root beer barrels, paper strips of dots, rock candy, jaw breakers, pixie straws, wax candy, licorice sticks, and a myriad of other delicacies.

Living in a wooded setting, one of our favorite games was Hide and Seek, and we all learned some rather devious places to hide. So much so, it would take a couple of hours to play just a handful of games. We would also play Tag, Red Rover, and Red Light/Green Light. Our fathers tried to teach us “Buck Buck” (aka “Johnny on the Pony”) but this never really caught on with us.

One time, the neighborhood was planning a Clam Bake party and the adults were all charged with various responsibilities, be it preparations, cooking, dessert, entertainment, cleanup or whatever. The father next door was charged with keeping the kids out of everyone’s hair so the adults could do their jobs. To do so, he devised a scavenger hunt whereby he placed clues all over the neighborhood, at certain landmarks in the woods, and at our school. He broke us up into teams to make it competitive. The hunt began in the morning from a massive boulder in his backyard. After he explained the rules, he turned us loose where we had to find the carefully hidden clues and and decipher them which was rather devilish as I recall. This went on for several hours until late in the afternoon where the hunt finally led us back to his boulder in the backyard where he sat enjoying the day by reading a book. We all thought it rather ironic that the hunt ended at the same place it started. He just laughed.

Afterwards, we had dinner and were now too tired to do anything but go to bed, which the parents had hoped for as their Clam Bake was about to begin. Afterwards we realized it was a brilliant bit of strategy by the parents.

There were many other things occupying our time in those days: we whittled, we caught fireflies in mason jars, built forts in the woods, picked apples in a nearby orchard, and played a lot of Dodge Ball (we called it “German Dodge” for some unknown reason). When it rained, a group of us would get together and play marathon sessions of Monopoly. In the winter, we slowed down a bit, but still found time to ride our sleds down hills, ice skating, build snow forts, and of course engage in several snowball fights.

So, as I thought about the young men talking about their video games, I kind of felt sorry for them. Here we were sitting on the Gulf of Mexico on a beautiful day and they were bored. It never occured to them to drop a fishing line off the pier or even a simple game of catch or “pickle” (running bases). They just wanted to go home and play their favorite video game. I was tempted to teach them how to play Red Rover, but like our fathers who tried to teach us “Buck Buck,” I knew this wouldn’t really catch on with them. Pity.

Whenever I hear a youngster lament, “There’s nothing to do,” I just role my eyes and think back to my youth. There is much more to being a child than just playing with electronic gadgets. Maybe the parents just need to throw the kids outside and force them to discover the world around them.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
INTUITIVENESS, THE SIXTH SENSE – Some recognition for the Radar O’Reillys of the world.

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5 Responses to “GAMES WE PLAYED AS KIDS”

  1. Very endearing post, Tim. I spent most of my childhood days outdoors. What a wonderful topic to write a blog on…you brought back many wonderful memories for me. Memories I cherish!

    I think I’ll get my kids and a frisbee out to the beach this weekend…

    Like

  2. Jenn said

    As kids for many years we didn’t even have cable. So outside we went from sun up til sun down. The first half of the day was always spent doing our outside chores. Then we had lunch and refreshed and got to play the rest of the day. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida– and I never found it boring until we had to go inside!! LOL. Times have sure changed!!

    Cheers, Jenn.

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A J.P. of Toronto, Ontario wrote…

    “You are describing my childhood games and, yes, the bike and I went everywhere.”

    An M.B. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “Amen! How can you build the ability to imagine when you never have to think up things to do on your own, build a fort, or play “let’s pretend”? A society with no imagination is a dead one, with no adult inovators, and we already see the signs of that all around us.”

    An N.C. of Redmond, Washington wrote…

    “That sure brought back memories. Great article. I ponder the same thing. I worry about what our up and coming generations who need to be entertained all the time; DVD’s while riding in the car, video games, etc. What will they be like in a work situation?”

    An H.S. of Las Vegas, Nevada wrote…

    “So true! Too bad nowadays it’s not as safe to just let the younger ones go out to play like we could as kids. Just a couple of weekends ago I went to So Cal to visit my daughter, and combined it with an anthropology study assignment for a class I’m taking. We went to Santa Monica beach, where there is a park with a lot of playground equipment near the pier. I noticed there were a lot of kids there. The swings were all taken by young girls – who were all texting on their phones – no swinging or socializing among themselves. Things are sure different now, but I guess that’s what our parents said too. Take care.”

    A K.C. of Elkhart, Indiana wrote…

    “This is a wonderful post and brought back a lot of great memories! Those were the days!”

    A B.T. of Princeton, West Virginia wrote…

    “This is a great post. It really brought back memories for me. Didn’t even have a TV when I was growing up but spent my summers outside every day.”

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “I’m with you, Tim! Those outdoor yard games were the best! Hide-and seek, red rover, stoop tag, hopscotch, roller skating and some made up games…….our imaginations knew no limits. Nobody wanted to go into the house for fear our moms wouldn’t let us back out until after dinner. After dinner, we played until the street lights came on. There were so many of us Baby Boomers! We never had to look far for kids to play with. We were free to ride bikes anywhere as long as we got home on time. The world was safer because there was a mom in every house and old folks sitting on their front porches. No one worried about kidnappers or child molesters. We had the safety of numbers. After being outdoors all day, we slept well and woke up ready to do it all again. Today’s kids don’t know what they’re missing.”

    An S.S. of Emmett, Idaho wrote…

    “So interesting to read your article. I had my grandson for four days this week and he seems to be only interested in Wii and other video gadgets. When he asked what I did when I was a kid (in dinosaur days) I told him my mom didn’t LET US IN THE HOUSE if it was nice outside. We had to go find out friends and PLAY. Growing up with four younger brothers, there was always some adventure to be found or made! We builit forts, and played with the neighborhood kids. We would even get large boxes from a neighborhood lady and then find a hill and roll down the hill in them. We played a game called rollarbat, which was a lot of fun, climbed trees, fell out of trees and rode our bikes everywhere we wanted to go, which inclued to the library. If we wanted money for a soda or ice cream, we would walk along the roads and get glass pop bottles and sell them, later taking on paper routes, babysitting and cutting grass. My childhood was an amazing adventure and I loved growing up learning to play, and becoming EXHAUSTED just from playing outside using little more than our imaginations. I really do pity kids today, they have no clue what they are missing! Thanks for your article, I was just thinking about the same thing this week.”

    Like

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