Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Summer of '69

J is for Jacks. 
And Joy. 

For some reason when I thought about today's letter in the A-Z Blog Challenge, the first thing that popped into my head was the game of Jacks. Did you play Jacks when you were a kid? Do kids still play Jacks?

My sister and I played Jacks. We'd sit on the concrete sidewalk in front of our house and toss that tiny rubber ball into the air as we frantically tried to scoop up jacks before the ball returned to earth. Onsies, twosies, threesies...

We jumped rope too, which was always better with three people because then two could turn the rope while another tried to jump in without stumbling. We knew a lot of jump rope rhymes and would sing-say them as we jumped. 'Cinderella dressed in yella, went to the ball to meet her fella, how many kisses did she get-1-2-3...

We drew hopscotch patterns on the driveway in chalk, then found a small stone to toss on a square as we took turns hopping. In 1969 hopping on the driveway was enough to keep a nine year old from feeling bored.

I won't say we were never bored, because I can remember whining, "I'm bo-red". My mom would usually suggest something, and sometimes we'd take her idea and run with it. Sometimes we'd whine a bit more until she'd say, 'Go outside and play' and then we'd head outside to figure it out.

We did not lack for imagination.

When hubs and I were dating my older sister and I had dinner with his family one evening, and somehow she got started telling about how my younger sister and I loved to play a game called Naugahyde. Everybody in hubs family looked at her with a blank stare, because they couldn't figure out what sort of childhood game involved a faux leather finish. She went on to explain that Naugahyde was a monster, the meanest scariest monster that ever lived. He chased little girls who would run from that mean scary monster, shrieking at the tops of their lungs.

We loved to run and shriek and scare ourselves silly.

I have no idea where we came up with the name Naugahyde. I'd say maybe we watched too much television, except in 1969 there wasn't too much television to be watched. We also ran from a witch named Madam Snickasnee, an undersea creature from The Black Lagoon, and the Nazis. Please don't judge too harshly, because while we didn't watch much television we did read books and then re-enacted the stories in our own backyard.

We played H-O-R-S-E with our across the street neighbor friends because they had a basketball goal and we did not.

We sat on swing sets and pumped our legs as hard as they would go, thinking maybe just maybe if we pumped hard enough we could send that swing all the way round.

We tightened metal skates over inexpensive tennis shoes with a key worn on a string around the neck.

We rode bicycles.

We put on plays.

We sold koolaid using a small table and a homemade sign set at the end of our drive. I remember the thrill of an older neighbor girl giving us a quarter and saying keep the change. In 1969 keeping the change was pretty exciting stuff.

We sorted marbles, made trades, sorted some more.

We dashed through sprinklers on hot summer days, then later spread our towels on the pavement to warm ourselves on the steamy cement. We ate popsicles on the curb so the juice could drip into the street and leave us with cherry mustaches and contented smiles.

We set up elaborate games of Barbies under the big tree out back, and there was always someone who wanted to quit as soon as you got everyone dressed.

We made clover chain necklaces and perfected our cartwheels on the front lawn.

We hunted dragons in the clouds and talked about whatever eight and nine year old little girls talked about in 1969. When I look back that's so often where I see us...lying on the green green grass of home in the sacred land of in between. Where everything felt possible because we didn't know it wasn't.

Where your heart felt full of something you couldn't name, but you know now is Home.


  1. Loved this. Goodness you just told of my childhood perfectly. I might add in hide and seek, coming in when the street lights came on, recreational swimming at the local high school, and books from the library. Much simpler times that's for sure. I loved a good game of jacks, lol.

  2. I did play with jacks, jumped rope and played hopscotch! Horse was a fun game too. However I played these things earlier than you did since I graduated H.S. in 1969 :o

  3. It was such a lovely time to grown up, wasn't it. Statement, not question. I so enjoyed this post!

  4. I enjoyed this post. So many fun things. We did all of those things with exception of Naugahyde. And I recently bought a set of jacks to have here at the house and teach the grandkids. Our grandson Jack loves them. I also bought a sturdy jump rope so we can do that as well, and I'm not good for more than 10 those days. We shoot hoops in the driveway and play hopscotch, too.

  5. So much of that all sounds familiar especially the skates! Great post.

  6. Jacks was on of my favorite of all games of my childhood!!

  7. This post brings back so many memories. I did most of those things but not jacks. I played a few times but really didn't like it.