Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hot Summers and Hopscotch

Old childhood games - hoolahoop, jump rope, jacks, hopscotch... does anybody play them anymore? I taught my grandson, Caiden how to hopscotch a few years back, while staying at his house. I don't know that his Daddy loved the idea, but Caiden did! Five year olds aren't too picky about what they do with Grammy, just that they spend time together. I thought I should do it while I could still hop. I don't remember ever seeing my grandmother hop, not once. My memories of her are more of sitting in a chair with a spit can for her snuff.

Growing up deep in the south we spent hot summer hours on the driveway or sidewalk, oblivious to the heat. Heat in the south just is, not worth paying much attention to. (It was actually fun melting snails with Morton's salt, on the sidewalk of the big white house on Emilie but that's another story for another day.) We didn't use chalk, we used the side of a seashell, which was easily available growing up close to the Gulf Coast. Only school teachers had chalk then.

Even this many years past, I still remember playing for hours with Patricia who was a bit chubby and had curly blonde hair, Pamela, tall and thin with tight black curls, and Carolyn. We only let Carolyn join us because she was Patricia's baby sister and we rarely could shed ourselves of her company. Once in awhile Rose joined us, Rose who sported horned rimmed glasses, and hair super short with a big bow tied around it most days. You'd think we'd have welcomed Carolyn and pushed Rose aside, but childhood friendships don't make sense, they just are. Maybe we felt sorry for Rose, who lived with her grandparents, and we never understood exactly why. Sometimes it amazes me that, more than forty years later, I still can vividly remember every one of their faces.

First you'd draw "Home" - a lumpy sort of semi-circle at the bottom, then a block for 'one' and another for 'two'. 'Three/four' were two boxes, drawn crosswise, and then I'd draw a box for 'five' and 'six', 'seven/eight' crosswise again, a box for 'nine' then another lumpy semi-circle at the top that was 'heaven'. Of course you wrote 'Heaven' in the circle.

Once drawn, we'd each set our carefully selected stones in 'Home' then wait our turn to throw it to the blocks. Up we'd hop, on one foot in the single blocks, then firmly planting both feet in 'three/four' and 'seven/eight', thankful for the chance to regain balance of our skinny little bodies. Lean way over and stoop down to scoop up our rock, in whatever block it was laying, then finally hopping into 'heaven'. Then we'd turn around and hop back to wait our turn again. If your stone didn't land in the block you were on, then you'd have to wait your turn for another chance to toss it.

Hours and hours of fun, hopping up and down the driveway or sidewalk, and all we needed was a sturdy piece of seashell and a few rocks.

Cold red koolaide from Mama's fridge afterwards made for a perfect summer day.

It doesn't matter the generations that pass, or whether it's a little boy's or girl's skinny legs doing the hopping (although I am looking forward to playing with Miss Addie when she grows a bit.) It's still a wonderful way to while away the hours. I heard it was 75 in Dallas a few days ago, so if you're blessed enough to live in the south grab your kids, grab your grandkids, and a shell. If you're desperate find a piece of chalk. Happy, happy times that will build sweet memories.


Beck said...

YES! Kids still totally play hopscotch and jump rope - you should see the school yard in the spring here!

Barb said...

I remember using scrap pieces of Sheetrock, too. Those were the best! My knees are still holding up pretty well - the hips not so much - but I plan to be in good enough shape to teach my grandkids (boys and girls) to play hopscotch too. No child should ever be deprived of knowing how much fun it is.

And jacks. Boy, I never was any good at jacks, but maybe I can practice up a little before the kids are big enough to actually play with them instead of putting them in their mouths. It's been way too long since I stepped on a nice metal jack! :-)

joan said...

Yes, those are totally good memories! I remember playing hopscotch, just wish I could see the concrete right now so I could draw one. LOL Everything's covered in snow. I needed summer memories right about now. Thanks!

Renna said...

I envy your memory. I do remember spending hours playing hopscotch, jumprope, and jacks with neighbor girlfriends, but I can't really remember their faces, and can barely remember their names.

It's funny how, like you said, the heat didn't really bother us as kids. We didn't know anything different, and I guess we just thought it was hot like that everywhere. I remember when we had a window a/c unit, which was ONLY used when we had special company. I lived for special company! ;-Þ

Gretchen said...

So true. We mustn't forget the power of play.