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Memories of childhood games (reader participation requested)

August 27, 2015
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

This has been an intense week for your Westfield historian, with the loss of several friends, and the first anniversary of my mother Frances Dibble Blackburn Anderson's passing this past Friday, Aug. 21. Just about anything triggered trips down memory lane, some sad, but many joyful! Driving past the recreation area at Edgewater Sunday evening on the way to Sunday dinner at The Bark, several scenes impressed themselves so much that the route to dinner was extended by several blocks because of missed turns. (Watch out for that distracted driver!)

One scene in particular was the culprit! A couple of grandchildren were learning to play outdoor shuffle-board under the watchful eye of a doting grandma. That was all it took to bring back memories of all kinds of childhood games - croquet, jump rope, stone school, statue, and of course, Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, GOOSE! - as there is a flock of Canada geese that make the large pond in the front yard of Edgewater Condominium Community their special haunt.

As many of you know, your historian was born in a farmhouse on Persons Road in December 1940, growing up with one younger brother and about four occasional playmates in the years before starting kindergarten in 1945. And farm children during World War II had very few toys or other games, so our parents and grandparents made toys from scraps of this and that, and encouraged us to create our own playthings. Mother used to sing a Playmate song (pictured with this BeeLines) and also taught us game songs.

Article Photos

During our childhood, Mother used to sing this song, “Playmate.”

Grandma Dibble sewed us bean bags to play catch, let us use leftover broom or shovel handles to pole-vault over her beloved peony plants, and taught me how to make hollyhock dolls out of the flowers and buds, using toothpicks to hold the bud on as a head, and make arms. Daddy made us a wonderful set of big blocks out of two by fours, painted red and green (at Christmastime), and so on we tumbled around doing somersaults and cartwheels, or played in a gravel pile left from when Daddy built some things around the farm. Hide and seek was a good indoor game in the winter, while in summertime, we caught fireflies/lightning bugs in jars on warm starlit evenings.

Picnics at Persons Beach were special times with family and friends, when we road in the trailer towed by the Farm-All Tractor, because we didn't have cars or trucks during the war. Dibble-Quilliam family reunions were a time for lots more games - the men threw horseshoes, and the children played croquet.

When we finally started school, we discovered a whole new world of games on the playground at the old grade school. The boys had rousing games of kick ball, while the girls drew lines in the dirt around trees to play house, or twirled on the bars, or held forth at "stone school" on the back steps. In the fall we gathered beautiful leaves from the maple trees in the yard and the grape vines on the school; in the spring we roller-skated or played jump rope and high-water, low water. We'd swing each other around and let go for a game of "statue" and catch each other in Red Rover or Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose! Gym in the winter was time for a rousing game of dodgeball in the little gym in the basement of the old school - girls against the boys! But recess and lunch time, even in winter, were times for getting outside and running off our childhood energy.

Do you remember the ice slides on the playground, made by kid after kid running and sliding across the packed down snow? We'd play on it until it was so slippery that someone would fall and get hurt, and the principal would come out and make us stop, directing our janitor to break it up into chunks. Luckily that didn't happen too often - getting hurt - as we all had to wear those cumbersome snow suits with leggings and jackets and scarves and mittens and knit hats. So we'd flop down in the snow and make snow angels.

What games and toys do you, faithful readers, remember from your childhood? Please share via email: westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net, or phone 716-397-9254. Thanks!

Buzzings from BeeLines The Westfield Historian now has an office located just inside the St. Peter's Episcopal Church education building, at 12 Elm St., across from Eason Hall. Please phone or email for an appointment. Thanks!

 
 
 

 

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