When I think of my childhood amusements, I generally think of when we lived on Glen Mar Lane for five years from 2nd to 7th grade. During the winter, my days were busy with school, Primary (which was held on a weekday afternoon), Girl Scouts, chores, ice skating and church. In the summer there was a lot more time to play.
We didn’t have a TV until I was 6 years old. I don’t recall really watching it too much except for a bit on Saturday morning and Mickey Mouse Club on weekday afternoons. Really, TV also had only 4 channels, so there weren’t too many choices of things to watch anyway. Computers and video games didn’t exist. When our breakfast and morning chores were done, we were anxious to go outside to play.
There weren’t many kids on our road. Debby and Jimmy Rosa lived across the street. Debby was a little younger than I was, and Jimmy was a couple of years younger than Debby. Sometimes Julie and Danny McGrew came to spend a few weeks with their grandparents who lived next door to us. Julie was about my age and Danny was Mark’s age. We lived on a cul-de-sac that eventually had 7 or 8 houses on it. Before the houses at the end of the cul-de-sac were built, we used to pick wild strawberries down there.
Although we lived in the city of Indianapolis, we were lucky to live where we could have a large yard to play in. The back yard was fenced with a chain link fence about 3-4 feet tall. In the back of the lot was our garden and some fruit trees. Near the gate leading to the front yard was a rose garden. The rest of the yard was ours to play in. Sometimes Mom gave us an old blanket and some clothes pins so we could pin the blanket to the fence to make a leanto shelter or tent to play house in. Since the yard had a number of trees in it, we had no trouble furnishing it with dishes made of leaves. Some of my favorite trees were the sycamore, redbud and wild cherry
in the front yard.
The wild cherry tree next to the driveway in the front yard was our favorite climbing tree...especially in the early summer. It was a decorate tree, so the cherries on it never grew any bigger than a pea and were not edible. The grew in little clumps, rather like a bunch of small grapes, so it was pretty easy to climb the tree and strip off all the little green cherries we could reach. Those little cherries made great ammunition to throw at each other. As the cherries got ripe they fell off the tree onto the driveway where they made a lovely purple stain when we squashed them.
Debby Rosa was the kind of girl who longed for a horse. She spent all her waking hours dreaming about horses, so it was little wonder that we played ‘horses’ whenever she came over. An old jump rope made great reins as we galloped all over the yard..
We liked to play Freeze Tag and Statue. Towards evening the crickets would begin to chirp along with the katydids. Then, just at dark, the fireflies came out. We’d grab our jars and race around the yard collecting them.
Sometimes in the yard we found holes an inch or two in diametter. They were really deep holes. When we dropped rocks down those holes, we could hear them splash into the water deep underground. Mom and Dad said they were crawdad holes. I didn’t know what a crawdad looked like. After we lived there for a while, Dad decided to get the driveway paved. It was exciting to watch the men and equipment to their work. we looked forward to having a paved area to play on as the road in front of our house was gravel and there were no sidewalks. We had to park on the road for a day or so until the asphalt hardened. On Sunday, when we returned from church, we saw a strange sight on our driveway. A strange critter that looked like pictures I’d seen of a lobster or crab was scurrying back and forth like it was lost. Dad said it was a crawdad! We thought perhaps its hole had been covered up when the driveway was paved.
One summer a new fad came to town...the hula hoop. Everyone had one or two of them, including us. We had contests with each other to see who could keep the hoops twirling longest on waists, knees, necks, ankles and wrists. The biggest hoop also worked for jumping like a jump rope. We practiced throwing the hoops down the driveway with a backspin so they would roll back to us.
One day Dad came home from work with some wooden spools that some sort of wire had come on. Now the spools were empty. The outside circles of the spools were maybe 2 feet in diameter. The inside was probably a foot in diameter. He thought we might find some way to use them. Before long we mastered the art of tipping them on their sides so they would roll and then balanced on the inside portion, walking rather like a lumberjack rolling a log as we rolled down the driveway. We thought we were pretty talented. Somewhere along the line we also acquired a pair of stilts which we learned to walk on. Sometimes we propped narrow boards across the driveway about a foot off the ground and pretended it was a tightrope. I think we used these things to play ‘circus’ quite a bit that summer.
In the backyard we had a swing, slide and sort of whirligig thing with 2 seats. It had a handle to hold on to with hands which extended down to a foot rest. The handle could be pumped back and forth to make the whole thing spin madly around.
It seems like we were never at a loss for something to do all summer long. What do YOU remember doing in the summer?