Let's Play!

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Michael w6
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Tell us something.: I have played bagpipes for several years. Open heart surgery in 2014 took me out for several months and I have not yet returned. I have begun to pursue the penny whistle instead. I'm looking for advice and friends in this new instrument.

Let's Play!

Post by Michael w6 »

Recently I saw a book cover with a monkey from the children's game, Barrel of Monkeys, which gave rise to this question. What were some of your favorite childhood games or toys?
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by kkrell »

Eldon Bowl-a-matic
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Guess I'll have to fix links, later.
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by Nanohedron »

In my day it was rocks, or sticks, or mud. But our imaginations were vivid as hell.

That's actually not as much of an exaggeration as it sounds: I've never been much of a gamer - the only game I don't have to relearn every time is Scrabble - but instead I always went for building stuff with whatever scrap was on hand, and for playing my part in what we thought were grand scenarios. When I look back on how we played Cowboys and Indians, it's a good thing I never tried actually scalping anyone.

In the fall we'd have tumbleweeds collecting at the plum 'breaks, and when I discovered that you could mesh them together and the bond was pretty good, of course the next step was building dome huts with them so you could sit inside with your buddy and plan the next adventure. They were good for some shade, and that was about it, but for play it was an awesome building material - if you discount flammability. Burned one hut down once, and man, do they go fast. Luckily I was faster. After an escapade like that, one learns to be more selective with one's surroundings when playing with fire.

My favorite toy was a bow and arrows. I think I might have been slightly on the wild side.
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by fatmac »

Some that I remember as a child.

Outside, ride an old hand me down trike, catapult made of a 'Y' shaped bit of branch with elastic, bow & arrow made from canes, old annual book on top of a single roller skate, sit on it & go down hills, trollys, made of bits & pieces from the dump, (what some called soapboxes).

Indoors, Meccano, (a metal construction toy), then when older, a train set.

We didn't have a lot back in the 50s. :D
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by Nanohedron »

fatmac wrote:Indoors, Meccano, (a metal construction toy) ...
Right! In the States the equivalent was Erector Set (as the peanut gallery snickers), and Tinkertoys. Those got a lot of mileage too, when outdoor play wasn't an option. I made a lot of guillotines and suchlike; probably would've gotten along swimmingly with the Addams Family kids.
fatmac wrote:... then when older, a train set.
An electric race car track, here. The novelty wore off fast; I usually just ran it for the sport of trying to outmaneuver the cat.
fatmac wrote:We didn't have a lot back in the 50s. :D
Yep. You've got ten years on me, but even so, things weren't so different for me, either. But I didn't feel any sense of lack, and I assume the same was true for you. We only say we didn't have much because of today's perspective, but back then, to a kid a new refrigerator's packing carton was riches indeed.
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by chas »

I got a truck for Christmas when I was about five called Big Bruiser. Man, the box that came in was wonderful! I liked the truck, too, but for about a week I just couldn't get enough of the box.

Some things I remember liking for a prolonged period:

Spirograph, a set of gears with holes in them that you could put a pen through. There was a ring that you'd put pins through, and then you'd put the pen through another gear and run it around usually inside of the ring and make spiral patterns.

Creepy Crawlers and Fright Factory. These consisted of a heater that you'd put water in, and molds you'd squirt resin in, then put them in the headed water to set. Creepy Crawlers were bug-shaped molds, while Fright Factory were skulls, bones, ghosts, etc.

I also made musical instruments out of all sorts of stuff. I remember having a drum set made out of different sizes and types of coffee cans. There were a couple of houses in town with bamboo, and I would sometimes surreptitiously cop a couple of stalks of bamboo and make little flutes out of them. Some things never change.

I loved football, basketball, street hockey, riding bikes, swimming, sailing. . .
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by kkrell »

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I had Tinker Toys & Lincoln Logs, too. I guess I was doing pretty well.
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Re: Let's Play!

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Michael w6
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by Michael w6 »

I should join the conversation and answer my own question. As a young kid, elementary school, I really liked Green Ghost and Creepy Crawlers. Past that and in my teens backgammon, chess and Uno. I have a powerful hatred of Risk.
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by rhulsey »

I was a kid in the 60s, and we lived in the county so there was room to roam. Indoors, Creepy Crawlers, Spirograph and anything science related were at the top of the list. We were outside unless there was lightning hitting the ground, and always on our bicycles. Like Nano said, our imaginations were limitless. We were perfectly happy with a fort out of grass from a freshly mown field or a roll of fencing and some old sheets. Our house was on a hill, and and we had an oil drum we would position ourselves in and roll down the hill until we hit the fence, sometimes being airborn for a moment or two. Try that today and it'd be child abuse and off to jail parents would go!
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by Nanohedron »

rhulsey wrote:Our house was on a hill, and and we had an oil drum we would position ourselves in and roll down the hill until we hit the fence, sometimes being airborn for a moment or two. Try that today and it'd be child abuse and off to jail parents would go!
Well, they have to catch you first. :wink:

Back then, what is now called "free-range parenting" was so much the norm that there wasn't even a word for it. Once you were old enough to do basic things like remember your home address, understand concepts like right from wrong, form friendships and have ties with the neighbors, and were habituated to basic safety like looking out for traffic and not running with sharp objects, you were pretty much good to go. Free-range play and adventuring was encouraged as basic training for socialization and later independence, with the added benefit of giving the parents a little breathing room. The very few who hovered and kept a restrictive, watchful rein on their kids were thought unusual, or even suspect. But it was a very different time, when the only real danger to kids was themselves; grownups - even strangers, if need be - could normally be relied on for help, and everyone knew the boogeyman was just a child's tale. It's unthinkable now, but at the age of eight I would sometimes even take the bus into town by myself, and no one would have seriously thought I was lost or derelict. But that wasn't my idea of fun; I much preferred my own two legs, and scouring the woods and windbreaks. Being one of five kids, naturally we often went off on separate rambles, so when it was time to eat, Mom's unique solution for calling in the herd was to go out and blow a coach's whistle loud and long. It was mortifying, but it worked because the sound carried no matter how far away you were in the neighborhood.

Naturally there were bumps, scrapes, and even the rare trip to emergency, but no one would have even dreamed of accusing the parent of abuse by neglect; that was just a part of childhood.

But all this changed once child abductions started increasing, which, IIRC, really started gaining steam around the 1980s. I thought it was a shame for the kids to have to now be so closely monitored, but there really wasn't anything else to be done about it. Even when allowing kids a measure of independence, parents walk a much finer line now than used to be.
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by swizzlestick »

Nanohedron wrote:But all this changed once child abductions started increasing, which, IIRC, really started gaining steam around the 1980s. I thought it was a shame for the kids to have to now be so closely monitored, but there really wasn't anything else to be done about it. Even when allowing kids a measure of independence, parents walk a much finer line now than used to be.
It is a shame. Especially since statistics show that young children in suburban and rural areas of the U.S. are more safe than ever before. Abductions are very rare but get lots of press.

I asked my grown daughter who certainly experienced close monitoring. She agrees that modern kids are far too restricted and inhibited. But her own solution was to go vertical whenever possible. Turns out that adults don't often notice kids 20 - 100 feet up in a tree!
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by Katharine »

swizzlestick wrote:But her own solution was to go vertical whenever possible. Turns out that adults don't often notice kids 20 - 100 feet up in a tree!
This is true. Not long ago my dad was telling me the story of how, at the house we had when I was really young, I used to like to climb the pine tree in the front yard (I was little and didn't weigh much; the thin branches could support me). One day he turned around and I was gone. He was yelling for me, of course in a pine tree you can't really see if someone is in it. I think finally I yelled to him, still just a disembodied voice coming from... somewhere... until he somehow figured out that "somewhere" was a greater height than I think he was probably comfortable with a three-year-old being, and apparently I thought it was just the funniest thing to watch him freak out...

I still somewhat remember climbing that tree (that time wasn't the only time, of course!). Must admit that I miss climbing trees, but the knowledge that it would be inappropriate at my age (I live in an apartment, not like I have a private yard with private trees no one would see me struggling to get into/I wouldn't risk getting arrested by struggling into), and the knowledge of what medical care costs if I fall out and break something (as well as the knowledge that well, I'm not 10 anymore, and injuries could possibly be more serious than when I was 10 or even 20, and not wanting to take the chance that I could sustain an injury which could affect me and my health/mobility for the rest of my life. Getting older really sucks; I'm not done living yet...). :)
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by Nanohedron »

Katharine wrote:Getting older really sucks; I'm not done living yet...
One comes to reinterpret "excitement". For example, there's always Mahjong. :wink:
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Re: Let's Play!

Post by trill »

1. Climbing trees.

2. Wooden Blocks.

3. Scooping pollywogs out of a nearby pond.

4. Creepy Crawlers.
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