Childhood Memories: Recess


Photo Source

My friend Susan, at Girls In White Dresses, often does childhood memories posts on Fridays. Several years ago she did a post on Recess Games that you can read here. I’m honestly not trying to steal her Friday memories spot–I just happened to come up with another childhood memory post and why not do it today! I know she’ll forgive me! So today, I’m sharing the games and fun we had a recess at my various elementary and middle schools.


Kindergarten and First Grade




At my first elementary school (ok, my 2nd–I went to another for a couple of weeks!) in 1967–1969,  Tether Ball was the big thing at recess. Little kids could truly be taken out by playing tether ball with a big kid. I remember wanting to play very badly–my big brother knew how and he liked it, so it must be fun, right? I never got a chance. Yep. No teacher intervened. No play ground Nazi Mommy Volunteer ordered us to be FAIR. The biggest kids got the good stuff. Our turn would come when we got to fifth and sixth grades. Funny, but not a lot of people my age have to have it explained that life isn’t fair. hmmmmmmm


Second, Third and Fourth Grade



The little girl looking at the camera is me on my 7th or 8th birthday–I can’t remember now which it was. We had 3 recesses per day in those years–morning, lunchtime and afternoon. We were expected to be active. There were swings and teter-totters and Merry-Go-Rounds–always grabbed by the fastest kids at every school. And Monkey Bars for climbing, too! No sissies allowed, if you fell you got hurt. Wood chips? Nope! Just black top! We also had gym class a few days a week. Just an aside, but it was rare to have an overweight child then and there were no sports leagues. hmmmm


Red Rover Source

Jump Rope


Co-ed games included Dodge Ball, Tag, Red Rover, Red Light, Green Light, Mother May I–just like we all played afters school in our neighborhoods.  But only the girls–and an occasional teasing boy–played  jump rope. We usually didn’t do Double-Dutch as it was too difficult. We had all kinds of jingles to keep time.  (Jump Rope Jingles source.)

This one was VERY popular:

Cinderella dressed in yellow
Went downstairs to kiss her fellow.
How many kisses did she give?
One, two, three, four, five . . .

There was another where you went thru the alphabet –but it was best for after school. I jumped pretty well, but liked to be picked as a twirller unless it was a rare double-Dutch day–I couldn’t cope with twirling that!


A my name is Alice
And my husband’s name is Arthur,
We come from Alabama,
Where we sell artichokes.
B my name is Barney
And my wife’s name is Bridget,
We come from Brooklyn,
Where we sell bicycles.
C my name is _________
And my husband’s name is ___________
We come from __________
Where we sell ___________.
(Continue throughout the alphabet) Photo Source

 Chinese Jump Rope


The 1960’s were a time when children sang racist ditties on the playground without being talked-to by an adult, let alone suspended. Sadly I remember one. Cultural Sensitivity was way, way in the future, so we never questions why or how this big bungie cord came to be called Chinese Jump Rope. I LONGED for one of these!! The I could stretch it between two dining room chairs and PRACTICE! I dreamed of Chines Jump Rope glory. I was a total failure. I never could understand it. I still have trouble visualizing things like that so I don’t know that I’d do any better today. Alas, Santa never left one in my stocking. And, no, I don’t need a grief or trauma counselor, thank you! The only time I ever played this great game was when I got to be a pair of legs holding it while the super Chinese Jump Rope girls made all kinds of designs and jumped out of them! For the record, I stunk at Cats-Cradle, too. Same visualization problem. Photo Source.


By Fourth Grade we’d become more sophisticated. Oh, sure, we still played all of those games–even the junior high and high school kids joined in neighborhood games of Red Rover or baseball or whatever after school. But now we turned our eyes on two or three amazing toys!

Source Source Source Source

Wizzer tops and Clackers became an obsession. They even made it thru the summer to fifth grade. Wizzers had a thing you could use to stack the spinning tops even. Way cool! For a while there as another toy–a commercial version of the old button on a string toy, but I can’t trace it.


Fifth Grade

Another new school for fifth grade. Fifth graders were the oldest kids in the building so we were really special! We could buy candy on one day a week, if I remember correctly. We had an after-school basketball league for a few weeks in the winter and we were a school on fire for Four Square! And, even with girls sports only really just starting, it was a very rare child who was overweight or a big behavior problem. (Mind you, this was still the days of anyone needing special education services being taught in a different room or even a different building. I do not believe that recess “cures” ADD or ADHD, but it does benefit ALL children in many, many ways).

Four Square


Four Square photo source

The driveways in my subdivision were poured in squares–perfect for after school four square when we got bored with shooting baskets. Nearly every family had a basketball hoop beside the driveway.


Paper Folding


By fifth grade we were growing up. We had SECRETS, we started to notice  BOYS. We passed notes and made these silly decision-maker origami thingys  (that’s there official name, by the way). As safe a method of picking a future spouse, choosing a career or whatever as has ever been devised!  Photo Soruce



Gum Wrapper Chains



Fifth grade was when my OTHER friend Susan (there were a lot of girls named Susan in the ’60s) and I tried to collect every gum wrapper possible. We got in trouble for doing gum wrapper folding during class!





No one gave a thought to a kid choking on a jack back then–if a kid had done that his Mom would have spanked him for being so stupid!  We played with the tiny metal jacks and a red ball. We had a tournament so that meant obsessive levels of practice during recess and at home. Later, in Middle School, our history teacher (a former Purdue basketball player who died recently) encouraged jacks and held a tournament in his class. I was actually REALLY GOOD at this! If there’d been a pro jacks league I’d have aspired to it! Personally, I do think that if Ping Pong and rhythmic gymnastics can be in the Olympics, jacks should be too!


I hope you’ve had a nice recess today! Did you play any of these games as a kid? Where there others that took your school by storm or that kids are still playing at that school? Leave me a comment or, if you’ve posted on this topic, leave a link, I’d enjoy reading your memories, too.


A Childhood Memory: Red Shoes

My friend Susan, at Girls in White Dresses, does a childhood memories post most Fridays. I’m especially fond of her Fisher Price Little People posts, but they are all fun. I’m not making childhood a permanent Friday feature, but as you’ve all seen, from time-to-time I like to share a memory. Today it’s my childhood love of red shoes!



Let’s follow Mr. Peabody to the Wayback Machine and return to the days of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society when it’s War on Poverty was in full swing.




Little Red Sandals

If you squint at my feet-I’m in the sleeveless dress with red trim–you’ll see my “little red sandals” as we always called them. I recall this day–I got to wear brand new RED socks with the red sandals! Red Letter Day! My brother is wearing the other “gym shoe” option” for boys–deck shoes! The occasion, from our summer clothes and it being at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, was either my brother or my little cousin’s birthday. I had several pairs of these, as did my cousin, as had my brother, Mom and Uncle in their day. Here’s the shoes I’m talking about….


Snow Boots


I was in Kindergarten in the Fall of 1967,  We wore things called “school shoes” back then, walked to school whether an adult could accompany us or not and yes, even in the brutally cold winters! Naturally it was uphill both ways!

I mention kindergarten specifically, because it was the year Red Boots ended. Very tragic in my life. The ones the furry linings were nice, but it meant I had to carry a little plaid shoe bag with my school shoes. In my school dress, with the dreaded leggins (stretchy snow pants) over the equally dreaded and hated “leotards” (i.e. tights) I’m sure I walked like the tin man! Boots never held the same appeal for me after they stopped being red.

Gym Shoes, aka Sneakers

“Gym Shoes” at some schools had to be white. And, until we were allowed to finally wear pants (first it was only in the winter) full-time in 5th grade,  it goes without saying that girls wore “girls” sneakers for gym class. In 5th grade the boys’ style with the capped toe became unisex. By 7th and 8th grade that meant “Converse” (aka today’s “Chucks”) in green with gold laces–our school’s colors. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

My preferred colors were Red or Plaid. After second grade I went back and forth between red and blue or plaid. The story only carried one other option–white and that was not for me! Boys got reinforced toes with a rubber cap–boys were expected to play hard in those days and Moms expected clothes and shoes to be in good condition until outgrown. Boys’ jeans had double knees back then, too! Girls, not yet enjoying the benefits of Title IX, had graceful pointed toes and were not supposed to get dirty! I, of course, was a tom boy!

 Sneaker Brands


Before Nike, before even Adidas, there were Keds, Converse, PF Flyers and Red Ball Jets. Every kid had a preference just like today–though that preference could be swayed if there was a cool prize involved.


Shoe Shopping



Remember these?You put your foot in the metal guide and the salesman determined your correct size and width. He fetched the box from the back of the store and helped you try it on. He salesman sat on the seat and you put your foot on the slant–he put the shoe on for you, usually while flirting with your Mom.



Shoe Marketing

In the 1960s parents often believed that buying cheap shoes was bad for their children’s growing feet. That meant a lot of name brand shoes! Buster Brown, a venerable children’s shoe company had many tv ads and gave seasonal prizes–a small plastic toy usually. They always gave you a Buster Brown pin and a shoe horn, too!

1970’s Buster Brown Shoe commercial

All these years later I can still sing the jingle!

Toys and Prizes

Here are some sample prize-toys: A Johnny Quest Decoder Ring from PF Flyers (I bet my brother had that–he was a big Johnny Quest fan!). The satellite whistle (red) I had! It was lame–of course I was very disappointed, but man oh man–I HAD to have it! The others are collector discs–I don’t remember them.

Red Goose Shoes Golden Eggs

I don’t recall ever getting a Golden Egg, but I probably did–the shoes were very popular. I think you pulled the goose’s head down and the egg came out–odd anatomy, but fun! There was a prize inside, of course.


Do you post childhood memories? Leave me a link! You can see another fun shoe post here and another childhood memory post here.

Note on photo sources: All were found on Pinterest, but too many led to pages or Etsy/Ebay listings that were sold. KEDS, Converse, Buster Brown, PF Flyers and other brands are Trademarked.


Childhood Memories: Girl Scout Christmas Crafts of the Early 1970s

Nice memories from the elementary school years this time.Me Christmas of ’71 (the date on the photo is wrong–it took my Mom YEARS to get film developed!). That was my favorite dress that year, too!

Much of December was spent making “stuff” for Christmas gifts when I was a kid. There were the good projects–the felt Christmas Stockings Mrs. Englehart patiently taught us to hand sew, the bad, (too many to mention) and the ugly–popsicle stick manger anyone? But Christmas gift crafts were raised to a special level of “art” by those frustrated executives in green–the early 1970’s Girl Scout Leaders! All were named “Mrs.” All drove station wagons. And none tolerated shirking your crafting duties at Christmas. Picture Source

I was an enthusiastic girl scout in my youth! I was a brownie and then a Junior and would have enjoyed going further, but that’s as far as it went at my school. Anyway, about that time band took over my life and I enjoyed that thoroughly, too.

Later I enjoyed leading my daughter’s American Heritage Girl’s group for a few years. Sadly, as in so many things, she did not share my passion for earning badges!! Image copyright 1963 Girl Scouts of America.Daypack for camp





Among the many crafts we Girl Scouts made in the Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall in the early 70’s were these two classic Christmas decorations.



 First the Reader’s Digest Santa! You bought a plastic Santa or Mrs. Santa head at the Ben Franklin and then devised construction paper arms with mittened hands to make them more “human” looking. Spray paint, something ALL kids long to use, was allowed with an adult RIGHT. THERE. ready to seize the can if you dared aim at another scout of at anything belonging to the Church! Our mother’s sewing box or button jar provided other goodies to “dress” the Santas with. I believe mine became a gift to my Grandfather and his new wife that year. Whatever did happen to it, I did at least have fun making it. Photo Credit

Then there were the IBM PUNCH CARD WREATHS!!These were awesome! Staples AND spray paint! Too cool, right? Mine was spray painted gold and went to live in Roger’s Park, in Chicago, on my Great Aunt’s door. She came home from work one night to find it stolen. She remarked on that every Christmas till she died in the early 90s.

Since those times I’ve grown up, become a Mom and received Christmas crafts from my own children. Handmade Christmas cards, school Christmas party crafted ornaments, a high school photography class photo calendar. Recently one of my children received a gift of an ornament made by my great-nephew. I remember enjoying little things like that made by his Mom and Uncle, too.
Perhaps my favorite Christmas craft memory was from 1972. We’d moved that August to a new state and a new school. Maybe he was lonely. Maybe Mom bribed him, or maybe, just maybe a 14 year old with art talent galore found some fun in the activity. My big brother sat down and painted those then-new cut out wooden Christmas ornaments with me. He tried to help me slow down and do a better job. (I’m not talented in this area!). His were wonderful, mine were ok. It didn’t matter–in my family we were proud of each others talents. So much so that my Mom has an oil painting of his in her home still today and on my kitchen counter, in true 70s style, sits a pot he made that has held the wood kitchen tools in every kitchen I’ve had–except the kitchen in Malawi.