Long Ago in a Neighborhood Far, Far Away
I heard on the radio today that kids were becoming bored with their video games, especially during the long quarantine. It got me thinking about what it was like when I was growing up.
For one thing, we didn’t have video games. To be honest, we didn’t have many electronics of any kind. We watched TV, but there was only one in the house and my parents, of course, could call “dibs.” We listened to a lot of radio -- mostly high school football games and top 40 music. Radio was also the only way to listen to WVU games. My dad and I always enjoyed listening to the basketball games together.
But what I remember most is playing outside. My parents enjoyed hosting the neighborhood kids, so we spent a lot of time in our own yard. We used the backyard for almost every sport imaginable, including baseball, whiffle ball, football and soccer. I can also remember putting together our own “Olympics” one year, complete with cardboard metals we made ourselves.
Every so often we’d have a “game day.” We’d gather our favorite board games, put up tables in the garage and spend the day playing, laughing and drinking Kool-Aid.
I can also remember spending a lot of time bike riding. Who knows how many playing cards and clothespins I wasted so I could outfit my bike with the noisiest of noise makers? We rode up and down our street and occasionally in a nearby park. You could always tell where the neighborhood kids were by looking for their bikes.
Sometimes we got a little adventurous, maybe even a little dangerous. We would race our bikes on the street. I also remember grabbing someone’s old red wagon, putting as many of us into it as we could and then careening down the hill at top speed. We took turns, seeing who could go the farthest before crashing. Thankfully, we came away with only minor cuts and bruises. But we were all heroes -- facing certain death with nerves of steel.
There were still things to do after dark. The air was always filled with fireflies. Just grab a jar and see how many you can catch! I also enjoyed playing capture-the-flag after dark. We would have any many as 10 or 15 kids playing at a time. We didn’t have any night goggles or fancy gear, so we inevitably slipped, tripped and fell a bit before the game was over. But it was still fun, exciting and surprisingly good exercise.
I know times are different now. But I feel like my own kids and grandkids are missing out. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all go back to the old neighborhood and just have ourselves a little fun?