Fun Times Back Then

Growing up in a small town in the thirties and forties was a much simpler life than any of you or I ever experienced. Another postcard to Grandma asked what she did for fun as a child—her memories of games, entertainment, and thoughts about radio shows they listened to as a family. During the early years, there was no television—only shows on the radio.

Sorry to be late answering your cards and questions. The “what did you do for fun” question was: outside games such as hide and seek, tag, kick-the-can, and swimming in the park. Also, sleigh riding when there was a good snow. We went from the top of Liberty Street, crossed Boonton Avenue (there was someone watching for the occasional cars), and then went all the way to the post office. (Back then, girls, the post office was on William Street.)

Every once in a while we would go to the movies if we could rustle up 15 cents. A couple of Grandma’s brothers (her uncles) were generous. My father’s brothers would give us some change. We’d do good at Christmas when they would come for a visit.

I think when I was about ten or so, we got a ten-inch television. A store in town would let you “have it,” and if you liked it, you could pay it off—like $10 a month forever! Our living room would be like The State Theatre.

Milton Berle was a biggie and Ed Sullivan, too. (Girls, they were both variety shows beginning in 1948.) Saturday mornings were good for kids’ cartoons. I especially liked one called “Let’s Pretend.” They would act out fairy tales. My father would “listen” to a ball game weekends and fall asleep and we’d keep lowering the volume until we could shut it off. I don’t know if he caught on. (Sounds like Dad, right?)

This is all for now. My brain is fried.

               Love you.


Grandma-Grade 6- 1939 Family Gets a Tv
Grandma-Grade 6- 1939
                 When Family Got a TV

It was such a different world. They made their own fun–playing with their friends and family and happy with the simplicity of it all. I’m not sure if they even owned a board game, but I will ask. Back then kids played outside until dark, went to school, and came home. Crime like we see too many times today just didn’t happen. Mothers sent their kids to school, to the movies, and church and never once did they worry that their children would not come home. There is something very envious about those days.

Never Mix Rocks and Spoons

When Bryce was born, Mark mentioned that he and his brother visited the orthopedic doctor almost as much as their pediatrician. As active boys, broken bones and stitches was apparently routine for their mom. Watching Bryce romp around the house and yard, I understand. He loves to dive head first off our bed, sofas and chairs, and when he runs at full speed, it is frequently with his eyes not pointed in the direction he is headed. As a result, his legs are full of many cuts and bruises because of being a human bull. There is so much to do, so he must run from one activity to the next. He has not been to a hospital for any stiches yet, but my crystal ball sees that in his future. It’s in his genes, from both his father’s family and his mother’s side. Uncle Mart also had the frequent flyer card at the local hospital.

But guess what, girls? I also paid a visit to the hospital which was not caused by an illness. My trip occurred in 1958—sometime between my second and third birthday. I was playing outside with my cousin, Alan. It started so innocently and involved rocks and a spoon.

Alan discovered that he could vault a rock through the air with aid of a flexible spoon. People say timing is everything, which was precisely the case on that particular playdate. Alan launched the rock at the exact moment that I executed a big, happy, wide-mouthed laugh. The outcome of this toddler physics experiment was my first trip to the hospital for an X-Ray. The doctor told Grandma that the rock did not enter my lungs so I would survive. The lessons learned here is to never underestimate the creativity of small children and to always keep plastic soups hidden from then. They can be quite dangerous!

And Out You Do Go!

I spent a lot of my childhood playing games requiring someone to be “IT”, as did all of you. There were no video games, no computer games or social media to fill our time. We all just went out after lunch and dinner and looked for someone to play a game. All yard games required a designated “IT”: Hide-n-seek, SPUD, and Kick-the-Can were the favorites. As you know, I had plenty of cousins to play with, but when they were not available, I would go up the street (crossing Wootton Street) and play with the many kids who lived there. I never recall being at a loss for playmates and never complained of “having nothing to do.” With some imagination and a bunch of playmates, we were always busy until dark.

As you know, I research everything, so why shouldn’t I research the methods of determining “IT” throughout my childhood. I realize that the reason I was not familiar with “rock-paper-scissors” is because that is a method of determining a decision between two people. Look at the size of our families. It was a rare occasion when there were only two of us—ever!

So we had a plethora (you will see this word often since it is one of my favorites) of methods to choose “IT”.  The most famous was probably “potatoes.” We put in our potatoes, i.e. our fists, and chanted “one potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, more, five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes, more”. The leader touched each person’s fist as everyone recited the chant. The person whose fist was touched last removed that fist. This continued until one fist, remained, and this person became “IT.”

A different twist involved “putting in your feet” and performing some kind of elimination chant. We had “My mother and your mother were hanging out clothes. My mother punched your mother in the nose. What color blood came out?” The person whose foot was touched on the word “out” picked a color, and then another chant continued such as “R-E-D spells red and out you do go.”

Another classic was “Inka Binka bottle of ink, the cork fell off and you do stink, not because you’re dirty, not because you’re clean, just because you kissed the (boy or girl) behind the magazine and out you do go.”

Who can forget:

“Engine, engine, number nine going down Chicago line. If the train falls off the track,
do you want your money back? (You would pick yes or no and the word would be
spelled out.)  “N-O spells no and you don’t get your money back or
Y-E-S-spells yes and you shall have you money back.”

But my all time favorite was brought to you by my cousin Timmy. It is a real doozy. I can’t even spell it correctly:

“Eeny, Meeny,Pipsolini. Ah-ooh-bablini. Atcha-gotcha-babalotcha. Out goes Y-O-U.”

What do you all think? Did you girls do this? Are you jealous? We really did this, and I am sure I missed a few.These were truly memorable times!