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Friday, October 10, 2008

The games kids played


Migrant kids playing marbles in Texas in 1942. There seems to be a lot of interest in the game. (Rothstein)

I wonder if any kids still play the games that kids played once upon a time. The kids I see these days have cell phones in their hands continuously checking for and sending messages. At the same time they are listening to music on their iPods. I have seen kids crossing the street 3 or 4 in a group and they all are doing this. I guess they are friends but do they ever actually speak to each other with all that equipment dominating their time?

The only messages kids of my generation got were when our parents told us we BETTER do this or that chore around the house before we think of doing anything else. It didn’t take a cell phone to get the point across. I wonder if kids even do chores at home anymore. They seem way too busy handling their calls and downloading more music into the iPod. Besides, if their parents give them too much of a hard time, they can always have their lawyer get in touch with the parents concerning child cruelty.

Maybe I’m being a bit unfair to the kids of today but they are definitely a different group. I don’t see many on the school grounds or the streets playing the games of the past. In fact, as we have discussed in this space before, "tag" is a game of the past since the dreaded PC crowd took over. I imagine the kids are in their homes playing TV games or "X Box," whatever that is.

Just talking about the kids’ games of the past whets my desire for a good game of house ball, hide and seek, marbles, mumbly-peg, jacks, running bases, jump rope, or maybe some kick the can. The girls seemed especially adept at hopscotch.

Those were all great games that required very little equipment or expense. Some of them, like jumping rope, were the reason for kids being so thin in those days. You jump your mom’s clothesline for a while and you will know what burning calories is all about. Not too many calories disappear sitting in front of the TV. (For those who don't know the term "clothesline," leave a comment and I will explain.)

Kids had a great time with those games and no electronics or computers were necessary. I have seen a photo of kids playing marbles in the middle of a dirt Scottsdale Road in 1910. Imagine: kids playing outside, getting healthy, and actually having fun doing it. And, those kids had names like Harold, George, and Henry. I wonder if the Zacharys, Sawyers, and Tiffanys of today have ever heard of those names.

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