(Thanks to Liz McMahon for sharing a Face Book statement that said, “We all had a playroom growing up. It was called “outside.”) It dates me, but indeed we did! And what fun we had!
Playing with dolls: my friend MaryEllen and I (Not to be confused with my daughter Mary-Ellen) would put our dolls in carriages and take long walks, stopping along the way to pick certain weeds that we pretended to “preserve” for winter use. We would wash doll clothes and hang them on a low line my father had strung.
If there were just two of us, we would play jacks or hopscotch, or another game that involved four squares but was not the “Four Squares” of today. We played lots of different games with a ball, including “Plainsies Clappsies” which I introduced to many students over the years and another called “Charlie Chaplin Went to France,” which involved putting your leg over the bouncing ball on the rhyming words.
If there were enough neighborhood kids outside, we would play tag, hide-and-seek, Red Rover, Mother May I, Red Light Green Light, or dodge ball. And always there was jump rope with its many catchy rhymes and the challenge of “pepper” or double Dutch.
We would go up the hill to a street that had sidewalks and roller skate for hours. I sang hymns under my breath as I thought that kept me from falling down. But nothing kept me from feeling nauseous when I would twist around on a swing and then let it uncoil.
As we grew older, a few of us would go down on the Fellsway to jump the brook, now swallowed up by Route 93. This was great fun until the day I fell in and had to explain my wet clothes to my mother. Because of all the hills in the area, most of us never learned to ride a bike but we could walk far and wide without giving it a thought.
My favorite though was going on picnics. There was a huge rock just two streets over, and we would take whatever we could beg from our mothers and climb the rock which felt like Everest to us. As we sat there munching on crackers, we would plot our future lives.
Looking back, I don’t recall that it ever rained. But when it did, I’m sure I read a book until I could be outside once again.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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