Not sure where it came from, but I found myself asking co-workers the other day what their favorite prize was to find in their Cracker Jacks when they were little. I remember getting overly-excited about finding one of them there red and yellow whistles in mine. Temporary tattoos were always fun too. Once I got a little plastic charm that was a four-leaf clover that looked all gold-plated. I put it on a piece of string and wore it around my neck for awhile… I’m pretty sure I did that with the whistles too, since they had the little hole at the top for that purpose. I remember little magnifying glasses, too. Wish I’d held on to a few of those things, some collectibles can sell for up to $7,000. Sheesh.

I always saved the peanuts for last. And I loved when I would get one of those great big stuck-together clumps; they seemed to have more toffee.

Coincidentally, after having visited the Cracker Jack website, I learned that July 5th is the official day that we celebrate Cracker Jack Day… Make sure you don’t forget. I wonder if Hallmark is aware of the capital that could generate???

All this remembering has gotten me thinking about my childhood and the things we did to amuse ourselves. I was a Barbie freak when I got a little older but before that, a simple big old cardboard box afforded hours upon hours of entertainment in the form of a “cabin.” We’d cut holes in it for doors and windows and escape inside. I learned to cut the windows like an H on it’s side and then the windows could be opened like shutters. Sometimes we would decorate them with crayons or Magic Markers (which smelled soooo good… and which I couldn’t find a decent link for a picture of the good old fashioned kind.) I liked to draw curtains and flower boxes under the windows. And I always made sure to draw a doorbell by the door. We’d take blankets and pillows inside, some crackers and Kool-Aid and if we were real lucky, a flashlight. Sooner or later the thing would collapse, usually due to cutting one-too-many windows and then we would sadly say goodbye to our little home-away-from-home.

Some other fun things:

  • Hanging blankets over the clothesline to make tents
  • Lining up all the kitchen chairs to make a train
  • Painting macaroni with watercolors and making necklaces
  • Gathering up empty pop bottles and taking them to the corner store for penny-candy money
  • Making a stand (again with the cardboard boxes) and selling Kool Aid
  • Washing our bikes
  • Playing “school”
  • Marrying off Hazel to one of the neighborhood boys (yeah, really.)
  • Melting Crayons in the sun
  • Collecting rocks and coloring or painting them
  • Catching lightning bugs
  • “Painting” the front steps with a paintbrush and a bucket of water
  • Drawing on the sidewalk with chalk (or playing Hopscotch)

Ok, my brain’s tired from all that traveling. What did you like to play with as a kid?

11 responses to “RETRO PLAY

  1. It seems to me that we were always outside. Rain or shine or snow. We did many of the same games that you did. We also had big pine trees behind the house that had just enough space under them for a “club”. We spent hours in there “making soup” and “mud pies”. We also loved the stilts that my dad made for us using sticks. We would compete to see who could go further up the driveway. At one point we had a little plastic swimming pool that we’d flip upside down on my cousin so that only his head was sticking out. He would crawl around dragging it along and we pretended he was a turtle. I could go on forever. Being a kid was great!

  2. Outside was the place for me as a kid. We lived in the country, so it was pretty much just me and my brother unless a friend came up for a sleepover. When we absolutely could not the outdoors thing (very rare), we played our Atari 2600, or Nerf hoop.

    I did a lot of the same things you did as a kid, and I’m glad to see that y’all Yankees say, “lightning bugs,” instead of “fireflies.”

  3. My favorite indoor games were grocery store, school and post office (the real one, with letters and stamps.) My best outdoor things were our “club houses” in the woods, playing hide-and-seek and freeze tag. I think we even had a club house in the lilac bush once.

  4. Nat: omg, I forgot about “clubs”… we were forever having club meetings, all different kinds, all different places.
    Making “soup” was fun too 😉 I don’t think I was ever into mud pies, though.

    Mark: LOL, I was grown up when Atari came along. Loved Pong though, and Space Invaders later. Then Mario…
    “Fireflies” are for poets 😉

    Hazel: Ha! I was remembering Pine Street and it seems you’re thinking Shady Plain. That’s a whole different set of memories for me. Remember the Monkee Shack and riding to Townsend’s Fruit Farm on our bikes?

  5. Holy crap I almost forgot about our Atari! We have it hooked up at mom’s and the kids play it once in a while. They can’t believe that is the only “video game” we had. “What, no leapster? no playstation?”!

  6. Ahh, the Monkee shack.

  7. wow, that’s a trip down memory lane. i like that you saved the best stuff to savor.

    i pretended to be a gymnast by making my own equipment, clubs we were always have a girl gang to beat up the boy gang (it was really just an excuse to be near the boys i think).
    waitress was one of my favorite games to play, building castles out of furniture and blankets, and pretending i was someone else.

  8. What did I like to play with as a kid? The neighbor girl mostly, till her mom caught us!

    But I digress, my favorites were Lincoln logs and my erector set. Mostly because I could “accidentally” leave a piece out and listen to dad step on it in the morning on his way to work! We did the kitchen chair thing too. I also had a miniature piano that I was totally fascinated with, couldn’t play it for crap, but that didn’t stop me.

    We liked to smash the lightning bugs and use the glow juice to color ourselves. It was fun to glow for awhile, no matter how small the spot.

    I just noticed that I had a bit of a cruel streak! Maybe I need some therapy? 😉

  9. Piglet: Very curious to know who you pretended to be…

    Jeff: You’re incorrigible ;-P I don’t know if there is effective therapy for that. I don’t know, I think you grew up ok. You still play with Pretty Ponies.
    Did you have Gold Nuggets? (ahem) They were little yellow nugget-shaped bubble gum that came in a white muslin draw-string bag with yellow strings. I remember once that Denny Read grabbed my nuggets, pushed me in the jagger bushes and took off running.

  10. Gold nuggets, I do remember those. I loved them and usually stuffed the whole bag in my mouth. Did the same with the packs of bubblelicious.

  11. I remember all of these things, even the Gold Nuggets. You should read my post titled Nostalgia. It’s full of tidbits of things I remember from growing up, and it might remind you of some stuff too.
    Jeff, you stole my girl-next-door bit. I also have to wonder, did you by chance use the magnifying glass from the Cracker Jacks to fry the ants on your sidewalk?
    Thank you for this wonderful post, Wink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s