Wednesday, May 09, 2007

When We Were Kids

There was no Nintendo, Internet, iPods, cell phones or any of the myriad other devices that kids need to be entertained these days.

I climbed trees, read books (yes Martha, encyclopedias and dictionaries included) played in the dirt, talked to the dog, looked at clouds and countless other activities that were just as non-productive as our children's tricks. The main difference being that my activities cost nothing and used no electricity or expensive batteries.

I was talking with someone on the way up the stairs to the office today about how we occupied our idle hours. I told him of the sport of slug salting that I engaged in during those damp, early mornings of yesteryear.

His story was from West Texas. He related that they used to pour coal oil down a spider hole, and when the resident tarantula jumped out, they used to try to hit the spider in question with a tennis racket.

If you have simple yet entertaining methods of wasting time that your memory releases to you, please comment and relay them. The creativity of your youth must be chronicled. And where better to do that?

15 comments:

Rob V. said...

Our backyard was thick with oak trees. One tall tree was situated so that it was very close to a busy intersection. I would climb to the very highest part of the tree (armed with a pocketful of acorns). From time to time, whenever a car would slow down at the intersection, I would chunck a handful of acorns on the car's roof. The acorns would never do any damage, but the sound of them rattling on the roof never failed to make the driver pull over and look all around in an attempt to find out what hit the car. The acorns, after hitting the car's roof, would bounce away and scatter into a nearby drainage ditch and were thus not visible to the driver. I was also not visible because I was well hidden high up in the oak tree (which was thick with foliage and surrounded by many other trees). Wish I could have made videos of some of the head-scratching and puzzled looks on some of those drivers. But, that was before the days of video. Ah, the memory of cheap thrills.

Richard Bailey said...

My family, Dad, Mom, big brother, and I would visit my aunts, uncles, and cousins in Louisiana every summer, usually in July. Specifically, my Aunt Emma Lee and Uncle Twiller, (don's ask about the name)cousins Marie and Doyle lived on Cross Lake near Shreveport. Those visits still hold the best memories. We swam, fished, ate fried fish, slept late, stayed up late, made homemade ice cream for a glorious week or two. Compared to chopping cotton or other rural tasks that I would do later in life, it was great. I was the absolute youngest child of all my cousins and of course spoiled rotten. I got what I wanted from an Aunt whose main joy in life was to make fabulous food and desserts and watch her favorite nephew wolf it all down. And I heard stories, a little risque, from my uncle--stoires which I did not understand at the time. I now believe that this special treatment may have caused a little jealousy among cousins, all older, and my older brother. One hot summer day they decided to extract some kind of revenge on me, aged four at the time. Their method was to tie me to a cottonwood tree and use their favorite weapon on me. Now this piece of artillery was very special. The hardware was a four foot piece of willow branch. Cut from the special tree God had placed on the banks of Cross Lake just to provide them with the weapon. A good willow branch was stout enough to give the projectile a strong launch and some accuracy, while at the same time being limber enough to create a centrifugal force, adding speed to the bullet. Now about the bullet--it was a perfectly formed piece of red clay that God had also placed on the banks of Cross Lake just for this game. The cousins would mold the raw, moist, yet firm clay into a wad about the size and shape of Uncle Twiller's stubby thumb. They would then form the piece around the business end of the willow branch. Then backing off about 50 feet from the cottonwood tree, (did I mention I was tied to the tree?) they would fling the willow launcher overhead and hurl the hard clay clod at me. At first it was funny because they missed. Also, I had seen them play this game before, flinging the clods at each other and I thought, "how wonderful, they are including me." I remember laughing like a loon at their misfires and wide shots. But when Doyle got the range, he delivered one of the red clay bullets on a beeline to the center of my chest. The pain was incredible and it left a splat-shaped red badge of courage on my shirt and a little red mark on my chest. Using my short training as an engineer (freshman year in college) I would estimate the projectile speed to be somewhere in excess of 60 miles per hour. My screams brought the adults fairly soon, but not before I was hit another 3 or 4 times, thankfully most hits were in the torso. I think I cried a little louder and a little longer than I really needed to. I also remember stifling a smile when uncle and father began to use other willow sticks on my brother and cousin. What fun! I think now that the pain was worth the attention. I think my brother and cousins counted the whipping to be worth the fun they had pelting me. The key thing for me about this was that the older kids were paying attention to me and playing with me. The memory of their joy in tying me up and flinging clay balls at me is more keen today than the memory of the pain of the red-clay artillery shots.

Falcon said...

Back in the 70's when I was in High School, I couldn't afford a real electronic keyboard so I played the "keyboard" dash of my car to ELO, Yes, Rick Wakeman, Edgar Winter, etc...

Of course for Def Leopard, 38 special, ZZ top, I played a pretty good "air" guitar.

Jamie said...

I have an older sister that had a lot of headbanger friends that would come over to the house with wooden guitars they made in shop class. My parents had a huge video camera that recorded directly to our VCR and you could watch yourself on the TV as it recorded. We made our own MTV videos to songs like "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leopard and "Love Shack" by the B-52's. We dressed the part and whistled to Scorpions "Wind of Change" like we were really practicing for our natural born rock star careers. Years later, we got so good at recording videos, we staged a few horror flicks filled with running scared scenes where the main actress fell over and over again while the killer (wielding the camera) never really caught up to her.

aA said...

Jamie,
i'll bet those tapes would be a scream to look at now! your KIDS would like to see them, too, i'd bet!

thanx!

connie said...

There were 4 of us siblings growing up and we loved going to grandma's house. Our cousins lived "down the road" and there seemed to be an unlimited supply of them. Saying that grandma lived out in the country is an understatement. It was the "boonies" I guess, or maybe "BFE" is appropriate in this case. Remember that acronym?
Okay, I'm rambling.....
We used to play on the many acres between grandma's house and the cousins' house. All day, every day, out in the "yard", on the cellar, in the hen house, in the rain, at the pond, under the lean-to, down the dirt roads, in the trees, and no matter what we were doing.....
one by one, grandma would call us over to where she had set a kitchen chair for herself in the yard (the folding lawn chair had not been invented yet), and clean out our ears with a bobby pin.
Now that's country.
...and also a fond memory.

aA said...

i'll bet bobby pins still make your ears itch, don't they?

connie said...

Hey, now that I think about it......she used the SAME bobby pin for ALL of us!!!!

bigwhitehat said...

I spent my days jumping of the windmill and catching hornytoads. I just doesn't get more West Texas than that.

aA said...

bwh: if you can believe it, 40x years ago, we had hornytoads in TEXAS CITY! them's great little critters.

aA said...

connie: all i can say is *shudder*...of course, you never bore any ill effect from it, right? well, not till now when you think about it!

Anonymous said...

bd: I had an imaginary friend named "bubba" when I was growing up. Bubba wasn't very nice and didn't like to share his toys. His other friends were mean to me too. I didn't mind because bubba was always there. One I found bubba playing with the neighbor kids and I told him to get lost. Boy! I sure do miss bubba!!...and now for something completely different......how about taking an appliance box and playing inside as if it was a space ship! That was always fun. We were too poor to afford a real space ship.

aA said...

BD, we did the refrigerator box thing, too! and i can't believe that my grandaddy let us use his pocketknife to cut doors and winders, couldn't have been older than 7 or 8...

Lauren said...

i'm sure you remember the giant pile of sand in meemaw and pawpaw's backyard that me and andrew and desiree and katy used to spend all summer jumping into from the tree"house".

hours of fun.

aA said...

lauren, your recollection of a sandpile resonates with many children, no matter what their current age!

unfortunately, as adults, we also think of the fun afforded to every cat within a half mile, too!