Monday, January 26, 2009

Games I played in our home and neighborhoods

Well, let's see. First let's go with home.  Canasta was a game my folks taught to me.  We had a special card table cover that had little pockets sown in along the edge that one could put your "books of cards" in.  Old Maid was another that we played.  I think my grandpa Duell may have taught me checkers.  I played a game where you used a square wooden board with pockets at each corner.  You had these little round wooden rings that you would try to shoot into the pockets with small wood cues.  Didn't really know how to play the right way.  
A couple of games we played at the country school were Pom Pom Pull away and Annie  Annie Over.  In the Pom Pom game, teams would face each other across a 60 foot opening. Each team would link arms with each other.  They would take turns send one from their team, running across the open area and try to break through the arms of the other team.  If they were successful, they could return and bring one of the opposing team members with them.  Of course, it was all so fair.  There was the 160 lb. 8th grader headed across to break the arms of two 1st graders.  Ah, what fun.  Annie Annie over had the two teams on each side of the school.  The ball would be attempted to be thrown over the roof of the school.  If one was unsuccessful, "Pig's Tail" would be yelled out.  The team catching the ball would run around the other side and try to touch member of the throwing team.  If you were tagged, you had to join that team.   In the Winter, my family would shot up the resort and move into Rice Lake.  I remember playing foot ball at recess with a little football.  We were in a 4th grade, I think.  One of the boys broke his leg and we had the ball taken from us. Too dangerous. That did not deter us, however.  Chunks of ice were used then and the tackle game continued to be played on the frozen snow/ice play ground.  
We played a similar game in our neighborhood.  I was so blessed to live in this neighborhood.  there were at least 10 boys within 2 years of age.  We played so many different games all year round.  Ice rink football was one we played.  the long, rectangular ice rink was the field.  It really did not make much difference how much bigger one guy was than another when it came to be tackled on the glare ice.  One size went down as easy as another.  If the runner made it to the side line, or along the snow bank, where there was a snowy edge, he would run really fast. However he could be pushed out of bounds with out much of a problem.
  Another outside winter activity was skiing.  There were almost half of us that skied.  On the Hardscrabble slopes we would build jumps and see how far we could go.  We also played tag on skis.  What we should have done was to make slalom courses.  That activity would make someone a better skier.  That is what my brother Jeff did with his friends.  We basically were goof offs. 
In the fall, we would play regular football games, where shoulder pads and helmets would be worn.  I felt so big and strong with my shoulder pads on.  Made my body shape a little more pleasing to match the larger tummy that I had at the time.  As a little rabbit trail, We had neighborhood teams in Rice Lake.  Two main ones:  Jake's team (Bob Jacobson) and Auggie's (Steve August) team.  I guess we would have been about 7th and 8th graders.  We would even hold practices for the big game that weekend. We would have high school age fella be our ref.  We would play our games with much intensity because much pride was at stake.  What great times they were.  I'll never forget one time I was on the line and I cross body blocked two guys at one time and took them down.  One, Donny Folstad, was so mad he sat on me and wouldn't let me up right away.  Funny, how something like that sticks with me but I can't remember what  I went down into the basement for. 
  Back to neighborhoods games.  These 10 guys played so many different games.  We not all played all games. For example, not all of us played golf or tennis.  Basket ball games would be played as soon it got warm enough for the ball to bounce, at least a little.  I remember my fingers would be cracked and bleeding from playing in the spring where the ball would get wet and so would the hands and then they would dry, only to get wet again.  Our favorite board was only 8 ft. high or so and the driveway was sloped away from the basket, mounted above the garage door.  We would play badminton and have tournaments.  Stratego was a board game that several of us got addicted to and played all them time.  Ping pong in our basements was another competition that a few us got into.  Baseball games all the time played in back yards, where the fielders had to dodge small and large trees to make a play on a hit ball. 
 I look back now and that was so much fun.  This type of neighborhood play time is a thing of the past, I think.  Now all these games are organized and run by adults.  Is this better?  I would say maybe no.  There were no expectations put on us by adults back then.  No schedules to meet.  No travel. We made our own creative fun, it was not done for us.  As is the case, when one has lived over a half of a century, we observe cultural changes.  I believe the sociology of neighborhoods, both with the kids and their parents is one of those unfortunate changes.  We just don't do the things together like was done in the past. As an example of adult games in our neighborhood; the guys were called "The Tom Cats" and they would play poker.  the gals were called "The Ally Cats"and they would play bridge.  All gone away with  the $.25 Hot fudge sunday? 


  1. We have two family games we play: domino and dice. We get around 10-15 people around my grandma dining room table and play into the wee hours of the night.
    As kids we played a lot of hide-and-go-seek. There would be 20-30 kids from the neighborhood. The boundaries stretched from one end of the block to the other. My favorite hidig places were in the trees.

  2. I see there are some paragraphs now! :) Thanks for writing all this out. Enough of these blog posts and you will have an online memoir.