life before television when kids played outside? I don't know why I started thinking about this lately. Perhaps it was the other day when I watched a kid about 10 years old come close to being run over by a truck because she was watching the screen on her phone instead of the traffic.
I remember when a store bought jump rope was the cause for happiness. It was so much better than the length of clothesline I used before that. It had wooden handles. The rope was thicker. It didn't get all twisted around like clothesline rope did. It was fun.
There were those who could jump rope where two people swung a long length of rope between them and another one or two jumped the rope in the middle. I never got the hang of it. I got tired of being tripped up by the rope, so I stuck to a single jump rope.
It has been years since I saw a set of jacks.
For the youngsters who don't know what jacks are, 10 small metal star shaped pieces and a small rubber ball made up a set of jacks. The object of the game was to toss the ball in the air and scoop up jacks before the ball bounced twice, starting with one jack at a time, progressing to two at a time until all ten were picked up at once. My hands were small. I don't think I ever made it beyond the eight-jack mark. But many a lazy summer afternoon was spent sitting on the sidewalk with a friend, playing jacks.
Nearly every neighbor kid I knew growing up wore a skate key on a piece of string around their neck. And what is a skate key for, you might ask. It is for turning the clamps that attached roller skates to your shoes. We didn't have boots with wheels set into the soles. We didn't have roller blades. We had these.
A strap around the ankle area held the heel of the skate onto your shoes. The clamps tightened near the toes of your shoes. This arrangement kept the skates in place. Until the clamps worked loose. And then if you didn't notice it right away, the toe part would fall off to one side and down you would go. I spent the better part of my childhood with big scabs on my knees. I loved to roller skate.
Even though we didn't have a television or a cell phone or any other electronic gadget, and even though there were always chores to do, especially on Saturdays, I think I grew up in the best of times for a child. There was a freedom in the life of a child that my grandchildren will never see. A kid could fly down the sidewalk on roller skates or ride a bike as fast as the wind without having to be helmeted and padded to within an inch of their lives. A kid could leave home on a summer morning and not return until evening without anyone calling the police. Our police were all the Moms up and down the street who watched out for us. They were there if we needed help or a sandwich or a band aid, but they let us play and just be kids.
I find it somewhat sad that the freedom to be a kid is gone.