Friday, April 19, 2013

Games Bunnies Used to Play

Life has changed

When Eli was a bunny we had all sorts of organized disorganized team games, slapball, punchball, stickball, ringolevio, skellzie all with elaborate local rules, seasons to play them in and not, and more. Then there were two bunny games, like box baseball, boxball, stoopball, two person slapball etc.  These were passed down from older to younger kids and brought a real thrill to the proposition that kids should go play in traffic. Parents did not have to drag us to some organized team practice and we objected to needing to come in at night. After all there were streetlights. Right?

What went on in your neighborhood?

31 comments:

Kevin O'Neill said...

I grew up in a small city (pop. 35,000) in northern Wisconsin during the 60's. We too played dozens of outdoor games regardless of weather or season. We did have Risk, Monopoly, Yahtzee, and a deck of cards - but those were almost last resorts.

Of course we only had three TV stations (NBC,CBS, and PBS - we didn't get ABC until 1970). Neither did we have video games or computer games.

In a decade - from 1970 to 1980 - the almost total decline of sandlot or neighborhood outdoor games became apparent. I coached Little League baseball and most kids by 1980 only picked up a bat or glove in organized league games or practices. During that decade we saw the explosion of home video games and our city got cable TV bringing with it dozens of channels.

If I were growing up in the 2000's I doubt I'd be much different than the average kid today.

Holly Stick said...

2 to 4 might play Anti-AntieI-Over, throwiing a ball over a small buidling.

At school in groups we played Pom-Pon-Pullaway and in winter Fox and Goose. Sometimes we played Batman (in the 1960s)

John said...

I grew up in a family of eight children, so there was always someone around to play with, although not the same age. We played softball, touch football, badminton, ping-pong, chess and checkers, Scrabble, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, and many card games: hearts, bridge, crazy eights, war, poker, solitaire, canasta, go fish, and old maid.
Expect weird results when you play bridge and your partner is a little kid, liable to do something really random.

Some of my brothers and sisters were good swimmers, and some took golf seriously. Personally, I hate golf. About 1980, I took a date out to play miniature golf. She beat me. And when I asked her how she liked the game, she responded truthfully, "I think it's stupid!!"
What brutal honesty. I never took her to play miniature golf again.




Tom Curtis said...

For what it is worth, as I child I used to play backyard cricket, French cricket, brandy, Red Rover, hopscotch and various games of marbles. In Africa, we also added a backyard version of soccer to the repertoire. At night, scrabble, cludoe and "murder in the dark".

In the pool we played one of two games we invented or adapted. The first, "shark" is a simple game of tag underwater with players holding the ladder considered safe. The second, "dog fight" involved players attempting to straf each other with bubbles, with players who had been strafed out of the game.

Russell Seitz said...

Is French Cricket related to the sport as played by women in Nouvelle Caledonie?

bill said...

'French Cricket' (no-one knows why!) is the one where the bats(person) has to prevent any other player from hitting his or her legs with what needs to be a tennis ball so as not to cause serious injury. Upon the legs being struck the successful thrower becomes the batter and the former batter joins the throng.

Additionally to the above, mark me down for cricket in the street or road, with a bin for the stumps, and rules like '6-and-out' (hit it clear over the fence into Mrs. Grumpy's yard and you get 6 runs added to your score but you also lose the bat - and you have to retrieve the ball!) and 'one-hand-one-bounce', where the batter can be caught-out by a fielder catching the ball one-handed if it has bounced only once, additionally to the usual catch with any number of hands or body-parts 'on the full'.

Also brandy (sometimes with a medicine ball!), red-rover, hopscotch, various types of handball involving various combinations of players, a variety of courts, and, possibly, walls, and, occasionally, beach bats.

But mostly, bikes, bikes, bikes, and more bikes. Living next to a national park with a huge network of tracks - and creeks to potter round in - was a genuine boon! Coming home was only for when you get really hungry...

('Straya, in case you haven't guessed.)

Hank Roberts said...

Bicycles, yes.

'Kick the can' -- "it" covers eyes, everyone hides; "it" opens eyes, watches, as kids try to sneak in from the dark; "it" has to see them before they can kick the tin can off the 'home' spot, or they're home free. Finally, "it" gives up waiting and watching and calls 'olly olly oxen free' (all's out's in free) and whoever's still lurking in the dark comes back.

Neighborhood kids always wanted to play with the can right under a porch light thinking the kid who was "it" would benefit by the extra light. I knew better. Got to where I'd just go to the closest dark shadow to "hide" and stay there motionless and thus invisible to the others who kept looking at the porch light and ruining their night vision. While the standard tactic was to hide far enough out in the dark they couldn't be seen/pointed out/called in, I'd be 'hiding in plain sight' just a few steps away, close enough to run in and kick the can before "it" could turn around.

I suppose it's ok to give the secret away now. Haven't played that game since, oh, 1963.
_________
Quite apropos:
Video: "The Internet: A Warning From History" via comp.risks

badger badger badger said...

My brother and I, in the 80's, had a game where we'd huck a dirty, sodden scrap of carpet at each other. Somehow this feels like decline. :-)

Deech56 said...

In the '60s we had tag, freeze tag, statue and ships in harbor. Most of these involves chasing each other around.

Deech56 said...

And of course street football, in which we made judicious use of parked cars to set picks.

Jeffrey Davis said...

Red Rover. Spud. Swinging Statues. I Spy. Riddle-ma-riddle-marie. Freeze Tag. Murder in the Dark. Casino. Canasta. Hearts. 7 Up. My Bird Sings. Bridge (My father paid his way through college in the 30s playing Bridge, but it was his mother who was the shark. We were taught early and criticism for our general behavior was never as severe as for poor play in Bridge.) Jacks. My sisters played Hopscotch. We would rarely resort to store bought board games. I hated Monopoly since it's open-ended as to time, but the winner is actually determined after a couple of times around the board.

I remember an odd street game played with a softball or whiffle ball. (I never caught the ball to get to see.) There was a batter and an array of fielders. Some odd circumstance led to the batter changing. The game was called Peggy. Did anyone else here ever play it? The web has no reference to it.

Rocky River, Ohio is an odd stand-in for Hannibal, Missouri, but in the late 50s/early 60s for me it was close to heaven. A poet friend talked about one's "Great Good Place" which dominates memory of youth, and mine is Rocky River. It was suburban but there weren't as many cars then, so street games were common in the summer. And it was heavily Catholic with vast families of semi-identical children, all of us coming of age at the same time. (My 5th grade class picture has 41 kids and one exhausted teacher.) On clear, warm nights the streets near our house resembled something out of Bruegel. And since it was vaguely northern, twilight lasted until 9:30 or so. Parents were easy going about their kids, then. No helicopter parenting. No terrorist activity.

James Cliborn said...

In Cleveland: football, 12 months of the year (unless the snow was too deep); only quit when everybody had a bloody body part!

Hank Roberts said...

> street

oh, yes, there was car-trapping of various sorts. We didn't do the big one, where you put out a few empty grocery bags and cardboard boxes along the street, except one has a big rock in it -- nasty; targets those who like driving over things to hear them crunch. It's a variation on the concrete "turtle" which gets those who liked driving over turtles.

But the little kids' version was to carefully lay a line of contrasting dirt (sand on asphalt, dark soil on concrete) across the street then mill about on both sidewalks til a car comes along -- then everyone lines up and bends over and pretends to be holding the ends of a rope or cable as though about to tighten it in front of the car. Tests the drivers' alertness and condition of the brakes, and ability of kids to run away fast.

Hm, you wanted -team- sports, didn't you? Don't recall any.

willard said...

During winter, hockey cosom, with a plastic ball with holes in which we inserted a J cloth stuff in it, to make it heavier, and plastic hockeys.

During summer, street hockey, with an orange ball and wooden hockeys and plastic blades.

If God exists, He plays street hockey. Speaking of which:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/JesusSaves

Rattus Norvegicus said...

I grew up in an LA beach town. We had street football (skinned knees and all), street baseball (broken windows), hide and seek for the younger ones. When I got older, skateboarding, surfing, bicycling, sailing and on lazy days fishing from the pier. Also did little league.

Anonymous said...

The others fought over Superman - I wanted to be the no-super-power Batman, that I could actually believe in. Never did understand another kid's choice to be Mighty Mouse.

Early Fifties in Bay Village, Ohio meant nearby vacant lots to play in. And individual house construction sites where we played with our toy trucks in the dirt piles.

Have heard of a study showing that without childhood access to some wild greenery, there's no adulthood interest in the out of doors. We had nearby Cahoon Creek, now part of a city park.

EliRabett said...

Mighty Mouse had the best song

Anonymous said...

The Red Rover in Tom Curtis' wikipedia link doesn't much resemble the game that we played!

In ours, there's be one tackler, and about 50 boys lined against one side of a playground. When the tackler shouted "Red Rover cross over" all the others would have to run to the other side, and any and all boys tackled during the stampede would also become tacklers, and the game would iterate until the last boy tackled would be the first tackler for the next game.

It was an amazing thing to witness if upward of a hundred boys played - the sound of the stampede was thundering. The game was usually banned by the school principle in its tackling form within a few days of the beginning of a school year, and even the tag version only lasted a week or so until the injury toll mounted and it too was banned.

Things grew more clandestine then - we'd have a cockatoo/34655572@N06/4077043246/ or several watching for the teacher on playground duty, and whenever one appeared there'd simply be a suspicious gathering of kids at one side of the field. It was fortunate indeed that none of the staffroom windows looked out over that playground.

Those were thte days...


Bernard J.

Anonymous said...

Cockatoo...

BJ

Anonymous said...

Odd...

All the internet descriptions of Red Rover seem to coincide with the wikipedia definition. Was my district the only one where the one-sided rough-and-tumble form existed?!


Bernard J.

Gator said...

Bernard,
We used to play your version as well, but we called it something else. I can't remember what... We never played at school, it wouldn't be allowed. We played at boy scouts where some rough and tumble was allowed. ;) I loved that game!

Now days my kids (2 boys) play four square. Nowadays only boys play it. When I was growing up only girls played it!

bill said...

I played your version too, Bernard, which also ended up banned, both in principle and by Principal!

I'm South Aussie - perhaps it's a state-by-state thing?

Our version of Brandy was also eventually banned, particularly the variant involving a cricket ball! (The medicine-ball variant was played at the local gymnastics club, where we also had access to full-sized trampolines, vaulting horses, mini-tramps, crash-mats etc. - way too much fun when my peers and I were in charge, which was frequently, given the not-always-well-deserved trust that was placed in us. We also ran a roller-skating rink, where I was both instructor and DJ!)

Ah, youth...

Deech56 said...

Bernard J, your Red Rover was our Pom Pom Petaway - played in the school yard alcove bounded on 3 sides by fences. Since our schoolyard was asphalt this was a winter game, which in Buffalo meant October-April.

Jeffrey Davis said...

Ah, Bay Village. 1955. When my parents first started scouting houses for our transplant from Kentucky, the real estate agent had a very nice house in mind. Bay Village. Great neighborhood. Nice schools. West side of Cleveland so it wouldn't be snowy like the east side.

Many of you are way ahead of most of the people who might be reading this. Yes, the owner was a bit on the "motivated" side.

Jeffrey Davis said...

Re: miniature golf.

Summer 1964. Four of us were playing miniature golf. The hole was laid out in a cross. Tee at the bottom of the cross. Cup way down the left side wing. The common approach was to carom off the near right hand wall and then bounce into the left hand wing. If you hit too close you bounced off the left wall and into the right hand wing. Too far up the right hand side and you wound up in the top part of the cross. Paul W. called (and made) his shot. Off the far corner of the right hand side of the intersection. The greatest athletic feat I've ever been present to witness.

Anonymous said...

Bernard J,

I remember your version of Red Rover as "Bar the Door" at the (year 1-4) school I attended in Scotland during the mid 1960's. And yes, we made sure there were no teachers around before commencing.

The local pronunciation made it sound more like 'balidoo'.

ozajh

Anonymous said...

Bill.

Ah, yes, the principled principal...

[Wince]

I'm pleased to see that my friends were not the only ones to play the rough version, but I have to say that playing Red Rover on asphalt as Deech56 did would be brutal - the snow cover would definitely be needed for that location!

These days kids'd probably have a PlayStation version.


Bernard J.

Anonymous said...

British Bulldogs - very much like BJ's Red Rover, to me.

Also played - cricket, footy, various forms of tig, bicycle based games (changed as we grew older), war, police and baddies, den building and variations of the above around the dens, "what do you want to be killed by", marbles, cards (flick them against the wall, nearest to it won the opponent's card), circle (others may know it as "ball tig" but we, as far as I know had some unique rules in the school where I first learned it). When I was older we even played American Football in a car park, using the white lines as the (reduced) yardage markers.

I was interested to see that two of the above games - bulldogs (which is well known and widely played, so not so surprising) and "what do you want to be killed by" have recently featured in "The Village" on BBC currently. Our version of the latter was a little more violent, as we played it on an old air raid shelter and use to thow ourselves off it.

Adam

Jeffrey Davis said...

All in how you phrase your Google query

More about Peggy than you ever wanted to know.

J Bowers said...

Jumpers for goalposts. Far fewer cars around in those days. Hop scotch, by the way, was a form of ancient competitive agility training.

Muhammad Amir said...

Parents did not have to drag us to some organized team practice and we objected to Kizi needing to come in at night. After all there were streetlights. Right?