Thursday, September 27, 2007


Several weeks ago, I caught the tail end of an HGTV program about the different toys and games kids commonly enjoyed "back in the day."

The program led me to ponder the differences in how old school kids amused themselves vs. today's youths. When I look back on the games we enjoyed in the '60s, '70s and early '80s, quite a number of them required more than one or two bodies, involved very little if any equipment and/or gadgetry, were typically played outdoors and more often than not, involved a whole bunch of ripping and running.
Of couse, we old schoolers had our share of toys and gadgets, like the Hoola Hoop, Barbie Doll, GI Joe and even Pong and the Rubic's Cube, which could be enjoyed by one or two kids. But for the purposes of this particular post, I'd like to focus on those games I (We) grew up with, which, truth be told, were actually a heck of a lot more fun when the number of kids participating exceeded three. You know, games like . . .
1) RED ROVER, RED ROVER (The worst thing about this game was when the big kid came charging over . . . If you were smart, rather than get knocked down or wind up with third degree arm burns, you and the kid standing next to you simply, let go each others hands.)
2) FREEZE TAG (This was one of my favorite games--probably because of all of the funny and creative poses involved.)
3) RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT (Why was the shortest kid, generally the quickest?)
4) MOTHER, MAY I? (Didn't the bossiest girl in the group *the one who most reminded you of "Margaret" from "Dennis the Menace" or "Lucy" from the "Peanuts" series* always INSIST on being the MOTHER?
5) DODGE BALL (I can only chuckle at those folks who claim this game is way too aggressive and violent for the likes of children. My grandmother, who grew up in rural South Memphis during the 19- teens and the '20s, used to speak fondly of a game they played called "fireball." In this game, kids would collect a bunch of old rags, tie them together, soak them in kerosene, set them on fire and toss them at one another. No, people, seriously . . . I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted too.)
6) KICK BALL (My son informed me that nowadays, all of the cool kids, turn their feet and kick sideways, like the soccer players do. Yeah, kid, whatever. I'm sure we had just as much fun, kicking it straight . . . even though, sometimes the younger kids would end up flat on their backs and staring up at the sky in their attempts to do so.)
7) HIDE & SEEK (The hubby claims the older and more mannish and womanish (more Black Southern ebonics) kids in his neighborhood used to a play a verison of this game that they called, "Hide & Go Get." Of course, he swears he never indulged in such shenanigans.)
8) JUMP ROPE (We've come a long way, haven't we? Back in the day, most guys didn't play this game, the way they do now. But wasn't there always this one guy who could turn the rope, double dutch, spin around and touch the ground better than any of the girls?)
9) HOP-SCOTCH (Yeah, you could play this by yourself. But the more girls, the better the arguments.)
10) SIMON SAYS (You really couldn't play this game with everybody. Because some of the more twisted kids, would try to take the game to a whole another level. After playing with them you'd either end up in traction or needing therapy.)
11) DUCK, DUCK GOOSE! (The hubby claims the kids in his hood never played this game. Probably becasue they were too busy playing "Hide & Go Get.")
12) TOUCH/TAG FOOTBALL (My little brother suffered a broken collar bone while playing this game. Back then, he was skinny, runt of a kid and one of the neighborhood kids--a boy by the name of "Big Junior" fell on him).
13) YOU'RE IT! (Seemed like the slowest, goofiest kid always ended up being "it." Yeah, that would have been me. But wasn't there always this even goofier kid who'd fall down at your feet because he or she wanted to be tagged? Yeah, I always stepped right over that fool.)
Okay, your turn. What was your favorite "old school" game? Or, if you prefer, which game did you absolutely hate and only played under duress (smile)? Feel free to mention games that aren't included on the list.

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Michelle Davis Petelinz said...

You got them all. Are you sure you didn't grow up in my neighborhood?! Kids today do actually play at least one outside group-type game: four corners. I had to learn it on the fly as a summer camp art teacher 3 summers ago. It's no red light/green light 1-2-3, but it'll do to get them out from behind their computers, gameboys and iPods!
Happy TT!

Nerd Girl said...

I was all about the jump rope! And baby, after I spent a summer in Arkansas and learned how to double dutch? Please believe I was the hotness on my block once I got back home to Cali. (Or at least I was in my 10 year old mind)

My brothers and I also spent an inordinate amount of time throwing overripe pesimmons at each other. Aaah, the good old days. Thanks for taking me back!

Emanuel Carpenter said...

Here's a you may not have played:

Burps: The loudest burp won.

Hide N Go Get: Kinda like Hide N Go Seek only the girls hid and if the boys found them some serious kissing and groping was about to happen.

Spin the Bottle: A kids' party classic.

Guns: I guess this was the ghetto version of cops and robbers. There were two teams. Both would go and hide. If you sneak up on one and said "bang," they would be out of the game. The team with the last man standing would win. (Kinda like paintball without the paint or the balls.)

Make Me Laugh: Based on an old TV show with the same name, you had sixty seconds to make a person laugh. Showing your underwear, jokes, and farts were not off limits.

Anybounce: Baseball played with a really bouncy ball, like a tennis ball. If someone caught the ball on a bounce, it would be there turn to bat.

Water balloon wars: A summer classic.

Snowball fights: Sometimes a big snowball would land on and in your mouth and it would hurt like heck.

House: As long as the "wives" were kissing, I was all for it.

Thanks for helping me remember those fun memories.

MInTheGap said...

Dodgeball, Freezetag-- I'll have to get the church groups to do this since we're planning on homeschooling, but thanks for the great memories!

Happy TT!

Angela Klocke said...

Have you heard how a lot of elem. schools are banning freeze tag? Weird.

FRIGGA said...

I loved all those games! Do kids still play 'em?

Happy TT13 :-)

Chelle Y. said...

You just brought back years of memories from my childhood!

Happy TT!

Malcolm: said...

I haven't thought of freeze tag in years! I still sometimes use the term "ripping and running".

Fireball?! Damn, your grandmother and her friends were hardcore!

DoubleDeckerBusGuy said...

I have a thirty-something friend at work who's playing dodgeball once a week... she says it's great cardio... I find it... odd.

Thanks for the memories on the rest though!

Shelia said...

Oh my goodness, do the kids even know about these type of games these days. I think I've played all of the ones you mentioned. I used to love hopscotch and playing jacks.

Ehav Ever said...

This has to be my favorite list. When I was a kid in Kansas City we called Dodgeball, Bumbardiment. I have no idea where the name came from. We even had titles for the type of kids who threw the ball differently. Head-hunters, low-shots, gutbusters, etc.

Also, kick-ball. In my old neighborhood we lived in a closed off community so we would play kickball in the street in front of my house. We would then have to move out of the street every once and while when a car would come through.

With hide and go seek we would add all kind of things to it. Sometimes we played hide and go seek with water balloons. Another time we played hide go seek with these toy paint ball guns called Gotcha guns. We also played hide and go seek at night.

Red Light, Green Light was also a favorite. Besides these we also played Kung Fu fighter, martial arts sparring since some of us were taking martial arts. Of course someone would always go home crying.

Damozel said...

I used to play almost all of those. I never heard of 11, but I played all the others. Dodge ball was a favorite for me, because I was too uncoordinated and slow to be any good at kickball or jump rope, but you didn't need special skills for Dodge ball.

Lori said...

Four corners? If I'm not mistaken, we used to call that one Four square. It's played with a ball and in four squares, right?
I used to LOVE four square, two square, any kind of square. The hubby, the kid and I played this last year during "Family Fitness Day" at my son's school. The hubby had never played before and he got so aggressively competitive, I ended up having to pull him to the side (smile).

BURPS?! Now that's just gross (smile). HIDE N GO GET--Obviously you and my hubby grew up in the same kind of hood. GUNS--That's funny. I grew up a military brat, but I didn't see a lot of kids playing with guns. The boys played with their army men. Also, when I lived in Idaho all of the kids used to play "Daniel Boone."
MAKE ME LAUGH--yeah, we played that . .. minus the passing of gas. Ah, that's gross, nasty and obviously a guy thing (smile). ANYBOUNCE--Now, that's a new one on me. SNOWBALL FIGHTS--I've always hated snow. So, playing in it was something I avoided.

Ehav Ever,
Dag, you all played rough, didn't you? The way you all played dodgeball is probably what led it to being banned so many places (smile).

I would think dodge ball would be great cardio. According to the HGTV show I watched, a lot of adults are playing the game in leagues, but with soft, sponge/Nerf type balls.

Shelia & Frigga,
I'll have to run this list by my son and see just how many kids still actually play.

Minthegap, Angela Klocke, Chelle Y., & Damozel
Thanks for stopping by the "Mix." I appreciate all of your comments.

Lori said...

And when it comes to the game of "fireball" I always thought my Grandmother was bending the truth a little . . . until I saw a movie about Hank Aaron. In one of the scenes from his childhood, they showed a group of kids chasing each other with what looked like a ball of burning rags.

Also, my grandmother said they burned up a lot of hay lofts and barns that way, but according to her, "it was a whole lot of fun."
Go figure (smile).

Nicholas said...

I think children all over the world play You're It!

Ehav Ever said...

Hey Lori,

I will admit the way we played dodge ball (Bumbardiment) was real military style and you may be right about the ban being because of us. :)

The funny thing was that the girls were the most feared. They normally were the ones aiming for people's faces. There was this one girl in particular who was a legend of dodge ball at our community center. Whenever she would play everyone wanted her on their team.

I also remember snowball fights. I did have a few friends who were notorious for putting rocks in their snowballs. They were of course the kids that you always figured weren't going to amount to much in life.

We also used to have Billy Club Fights. That is when we would take newspapers and roll them up and have fights with them. The name came after everyone wanted to use their paper clubs against this one kid named Billy.

At the local community there was a counselor named Mike who we always tried to gang up on. It always ended up like some Bruce Lee with Mike still standing and all of us either laid out or running away. Everyday we plotted to take down Mike and everyday he would either pick some us up and spin us around or put us in head locks.

Also, when we played baseball I remember the whole, Batter, batter, batter....swing! cyke out.

We also had a lot of pillow fights in the dark. That was until someone threw a stray pillow and broke a light at my friends house.

Lori said...

It would be interesting to know just how many communities around the world play tag or "you're it!"

Ehav E.,
Ahh, you know, I think we got the point the first time around. Pretty much, y'all were some bad-a$$ kids. So, let's move onto a more "peaceful" less "Three Stoogies like" topic, shall we? (smile).