Tales From the Garden
A Week Full of Questions: Monday

Museum of Me: June 2022

It's the second Friday in May, and that means it's time for a new exhibit in the . . . 


This month, we're moving it outside . . . to talk about fun and games out in the neighborhood and, specifically, about our favorite childhood outside games.

So lace up your PF Flyers, grab your favorite hopscotch rock, and c'mon outside and play with me!

(In full disclosure, I was totally sucked into the PF Flyers "hype" based on my love of Johnny Quest. I begged for a pair every summer and swore to my mom I'd wear them. After all, they'd make me "run faster and jump higher." Problem was? Shoes. I hated to wear them, and especially in the summer. Every night, my mom would send me out in the neighborhood to retrace my steps and find my shoes . . . wherever I had left them.)

(I had the ring, too. Although . . . it was not as nifty as depicted in the TV show.)

When I was 5, my family moved into a small ranch house in a mid-century tract home development. The houses were all lined up along a street with a sidewalk out front, and new yards that just went on for blocks. I loved my neighborhood! It was easy for a young child to navigate, I could safely ride my bike on the street, and I had plenty of room to stretch out and spend my summer outside . . . on the sidewalks, front yards, and porch stoops of all my neighborhood pals. (And, trust me, there were PLENTY of neighborhood pals.) We kinda wandered like a pack of wild dogs from house to house, yard to yard, rounding up whoever was available to play . . . and looking for popsicles.

I spent my summers outside. If I could do a thing (read, draw, eat, play), why would I want to do it inside during the summer? Depending on which friends were available, I spent my summer days playing hopscotch on the sidewalk. Or jumping rope (Double-Dutch if I could find two willing rope-twirlers). Sometimes we played elaborate games with our Barbies or "Liddle Kiddles." We rode our bikes up and down the street, often with playing cards clothespinned to our spokes for that "extra-action sound." We put on shows and plays, staged parades, and did tumbling moves out in the grass. Sometimes a mom would turn on a sprinkler for us to play in. There was always, ALWAYS something going on - and someone to play with. In the evenings after dinner, all of us would gather in a yard (usually ours) to play games . . .  tag (Freeze Tag and TV Tag were our favorites) or Red Rover; Mother May I or Red Light Green Light . . . until the moms started calling us in for the night (and yelling about finding shoes, of course).


Sadly, I have very few photos of those summer days . . . or my childhood, neighborhood friends. I do have the photo above, though. A little Halloween gathering in 1967. My sister and I (sitting at either end of the table there) were each allowed to invite 2 neighborhood friends. I invited my friend Liz (in the headscraf), who I adored (she was 2 years older than me, and So Very Cool; she introduced me to The Mod Squad AND The Beatles!) and Cindy (eating ice cream) who was my first neighborhood pal (and as I realize now that I'm a grown up, had a very challenging home life; my mom invited her to play at our house anytime). My sister's little friends were her age . . . and my friends and I found them to be very pesty. (That smirky girl in the front? Arlene? She was Trouble. My mom did NOT invite her to play at our house anytime. Just sayin.)

But I'm getting sidetracked here on Memory Lane. Let's move on to the key piece of the exhibit, shall we?

My very favorite childhood game? Jacks! Hands down. I loved playing jacks -- it was portable, I could play it by myself or with friends, and I could play it inside or out (although much preferred out) (as did my mom).  Best of all . . . I was really good at it! Double-bounce, Pigs-in-the-Pen, Pigs-Over-the-Fence, Around-the-World, Slides, Taps, No Bounce . . . you name it, I played it. 

And you know what I still have?



Yep. My childhood jacks! Still in the spare jewelry box my mom gave me to carry them to school (for recess play. . . ). (The dice was to roll to determine "firsties" when playing with others, by the way.)

It's still fun to throw them out. They're metal, and they make such a satisfying "ringing" sound as they hit the sidewalk . . . and that takes me right back to those summer sidewalks of my childhood.


If I'd had a little ball, I'd have played a game right there with JoJo . . . on the patio!


How about you? What was your favorite outside game?


Thanks for visiting The Museum of Me. Watch for new exhibits . . . on the 2nd Friday of each month.

And if you're a blogger and you'd like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I'll send you my "exhibit schedule" (a list of monthly prompts) and we can tell our stories together. 





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You've recalled a lot of memories here! We lived on a dirt road with only one other house, so it was just my sister and I in the summer. We mainly roamed the woods and I read outside in the summer. We were just recalling when a big tree fell in the woods, we had so much fun climbing it and pretending it was a rocket ship until my sister fell and broke her arm. We didn't want my father to cut the tree up, so we didn't tell anyone about it for a week until she couldn't use her arm and needed surgery. Our rocket ship tree did get cut up for firewood!


My mother also loved playing jacks as a kid. I, unfortunately, never had the coordination to be very good at it. She sent me to camp with a set of jacks for several years that probably got used once each time. I was much more into making friendship bracelets and lanyards!


What memories this post brings back! I think so many of us spent summers outdoors - roaming the neighborhood and coming home only for meals or snacks. Of course, the world was different "back then." I loved jacks and hopscotch and jumping rope. We also had large neighborhood games of hide and seek and kick the can - mostly at dusk when it was easier to hide. The father of the kids next door to us would spend hours (literally, hours) pitching whiffle balls for us to hit. And, of course, I spent hours curled up on a lounge chair in the back yard with a book. Such good times.


Your childhood summers sound so idyllic and perfect, very similar to the way Dale describes his summers, in fact. I never learned to play jacks. My mom talked about playing but I don't recall her ever trying to teach me. My favorite outdoor activity as a kid was reading . . . no big surprise, right?


I don't think I have ever played jacks! I was a little like Bonny... there was a sassafras grove in the woods behind my house, and I imagined it to be a magical fort. I spent lots of time sitting in there reading. And my nana's house had a swing set... which I loved. I could swing for hours and hours it seemed!


Oh, how fun! I remember playing jacks... but I loved playing marbles!

I was in 3rd grade when we moved to a new subdivision (the streets hadn't yet been paved and there was SO MUCH building going on) (& construction sites were fun to play in), so lots of young families & lots of kids!! It was the best. We played lots of outdoor games with the neighbors -- kickball, tag, etc.


You've brought back some great childhood memories! We lived on the edge of town and would often take long bike rides into the country through farms and woods. We had nice woods nearby and often made up adventures to play in the woods and go "rock hopping" in a nearby brook. There was an old abandoned "haunted" house in our neighborhood and we would scare ourselves silly going inside and making up stories about the fate of two old maiden sisters who were the last to live there. In the evening we always had a big kickball game either in front of our house or our cousin's house. As soon as it began to get dark, we would play a complicated game of hide & go seek. We worked in teams of 2-4 and our boundaries were four blocks in both directions, we had different warning calls and various rules. Around 9pm we'd hear our mothers start calling for us to come in, the youngest kids were always called first. On hot nights we usually slept in someone's backyard, on the ground and under the stars. Thanks for the memories, Kym!


I used to enjoy playing jacks, but I was really crap at it.

My favorite thing to do in the summer was ride my bike. I would ride it as much as I could. One summer I discovered a previously unknown little neighborhood park, and I would pack a lunch, ride there, eat my lunch and read my book, and then pedal home.

I should start doing that again, you know?


It's hard to remember back that far. LOL

I remember Kick the Can. We played that a lot. Hide-and-seek --- that too. We definitely rode our bikes far and wide. Remember when it was safe to do that? We could go to the school playground and swing/slide/climb.

In the summer we played in the sprinkler and one year we had a little pool. And every summer some of the far-away cousins would come for a visit or I would go to them. That was the highlight of school break, especially if it was to go to my Aunt Helen's. They had horses, a real pool and NO RULES! LOL

When I got older it was all about baseball in the summer and ice skating in the winter. The local park flooded a spot for skating and had several baseball fields. My cousin Bubba was always the pitcher and my dog was always the outfielder.

Helen Mathey-Horn

I remember playing on the street (tag? Statue/Freeze Tag?) after the lights came on. How on a public street we could safely play, it boggles the mind. I guess we went home when we heard my mother holler (from a street over). I also remember there would always be a spiderweb built in the back peak of our house which on that side was 2.5 stories above the ground and had a yard light in it. Spider was using its resources! With that light on all sorts of things (spider food) flew into that web. We also ran wild/loose through some open fields looking for monarch caterpillars which we brought home, feed and watch go through metamorphosis. We would release the butterflies to continue the journey. There were a lot of other things we got up to in that house, but...well somethings don't have a statute of limitations...lol., although perhaps only my brothers and I survived to know. :)


I love this picture...and I think the scarcity of photos from certain seasons or eras makes them all the more special. (Which makes me wonder what it will be like for generations who never knew pre-digital photos?)
And love that you still have your original jacks--in that box! My favorite childhood outdoor games: kickball in the cemetery yard across the street from our house. And Mother, May I. (Similar to your mom's call to go find your shoes, my mom called out the upstairs hall window: "Matt! Carolyn! Bath time!! Seemed we were ALWAYS the first called in!)


Your childhood summer days sound so much like my summer days! Tag, cowboys and Indians, climbing, running, biking, swimming, anything that had movement. And, jacks!! I LOVED jacks. I got pretty good and it was a great icebreaker when we moved from one neighborhood to another. Having the jacks or the hoppy taw for hopscotch would be so cool!


Jacks! My favorite. But played inside. Did you not scrape your hand on the cement or a asphalt outside? And something we called Running Bases to get around not actually playing IN the street. The bases were on the tree lawn - one across the street from the other two, which necessitated running ACROSS the street, but not technically dawdling IN the street. During these runs the rest of the team members kept a vigilant lookout for cars on this low-traffic side street so no one got even close to getting killed. These days this scenario would never be possible. Also loved bicycle-riding - long distances - and catching fireflies on the lawn in the summer.


We lived on the farm until I was 10, when we moved into a ranch house in town (town population 585). Suddenly I had kids to play with! There was a short dead-end street a block from our house, and there were 21 kids, all around my age. Baby Boom indeed! We played kickball and rode our bikes all over town. On winter weekends we would walk to the outdoor rink to skate, or stay inside to watch old movies on TV. I seem to remember sewing clothes for my Barbie, too.


These posts are so much fun! You have some wonderful memories of all sorts of games. I don't remember any specific games, just a lot of bike-riding and swimming.

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