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  • MJ Rodriguez

Games we played



Because of the size of our family, we had few store-bought toys with which to play, so we made our own toys and games. A favorite game was walking on stilts. We made these out of straight saplings which we cut from the woods. A small piece of wood a few feet up the sapling provided a rest for our feet. Balancing on a fence or the side of the house, we mounted our stilts and walked around the yard and up and down the road. The higher up we mounted the footrests, the more challenging it was to keep our balance and walk around. Bruises and skins were quite common but never deterred us from our games.


We also enjoyed the board and ring game. On a flat narrow board, we fastened a shorter board to create sort of a T. We would toss a ring which was approximately a foot or more in diameter on the ground to start it rolling, and we kept it rolling by pushing it with the tool we had created. Races and contests made the game fun, and we spent hours playing with our toys.


Since I was raised in the middle of seven boys, one favorite game was cowboys and Indians. The hilly woods around our house was perfect for hideouts and shoot-outs, and we kept in shape easily as we ran over the hills and through the trees. We also swam in the Scatter Creek that wound around across our land.


Across from our house, a red sandbank rose beside the creek, and we spent hours playing there, jumping from the top to land a few feet down on the thick, soft sand. The boys decided that would be a good place to play ball, so we made a sock ball so it wouldn’t travel far. Home plate was at the top and second base at the bottom. Once I tripped and rolled all the way to the leaf-mold that covered the sand at the bottom. There was only one thing to do—jump up and head for second base. Our clothes were often stained red and Mom fussed a little, but she allowed the sandbank games to continue. Bless her heart.


Some games we played were somewhat dangerous and were stopped when our parents found out about them. A small bridge crossed the creek close to our house, and at one time, a sapling grew from the creek bed so that the top reached just a little above the bridge and just a few feet from it. A favorite activity during this time was to jump from the bridge, grab the top of the sapling on the way down, and swing to the creek bed. I don’t guess any of us missed the tree.


Another time a cable had been hung from a limb so that it swung just above a bridge on the gravel road. We would jump out over the bank, grab the cable, and swing out over the creek. It was far enough that we would have been injured had we fallen, but no one did. An uncle who was visiting saw what we were doing and insisted Dad take the cable down. Shoot! That ended that game.


At one time we housed Shetland ponies for a man who wanted the boys to break the horses. The boys rode those ponies all over the hills, teaching them to scoot under fences so they could take them anywhere. Once they brought a live rattlesnake home in a toe sack on the back of a pony. They put the snake in a dresser drawer upstairs in their bedroom while they built it a cage. Mom heard them hammering and investigated, and immediately the snake was removed from the house. Another time Edward, George, and Marvin had Sam to climb a tree so they could cut it down with him. He rode the tree to the ground and was skinned and bruised from head to foot.


My childhood was filled with laughter and fun. We learned to be creative and imaginative, and as a result, we have lots of stories to share with our children and grandchildren. Life was good for us, with plenty of good times helped us endure the hard times we sometimes encountered.

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