I got a call out of the blue from an old friend of mine from school. We went through grade school and high school together, and it was great to reconnect again. We reminisced about old times, the teachers we had, the classes we took (remembering mostly the ones we feared and hated), but mainly what real fun was like back then.
When we were kids, nobody wore bike helmets or knee pads or had their own phone (shoot, I wasn’t allowed to even touch the phone at my house until I was ten years old). Fun was what you made it, and our imaginations ran wild.
In grade school we had recess. It was a way of letting kids burn up energy outside and give the teachers a break. It was hell to have to sit still in class when we all wanted to do was fidget and run around, so recess was our reprieve.
Our games went by seasons. In the spring, we played marbles. We brought our sacks of marbles to school so that we could play during recess. It was easy: we made a hole in the dirt with the heel of our shoe, then outlined a big circle in the dirt with a stick. Then we knelt down and shot the marbles into the circle by popping it with our thumbs against our forefingers to give the marble distance.
In summer when school was out, we went swimming and biking and fishing, or if we were lucky enough to have a boat (or have friends who had one), we went canoeing or rowing. At dusk, we played volley ball or red rover or hide and seek.
In the fall, we were back to school and played dodge ball or tag or played on the swings at recess. Those of us who had bikes rode them around after school.
In the winter, we always had loads of snow. We played King of the Mountain, in which the bravest kid would climb up on the highest mountain of snow and challenge all comers to shove him off of it, therefore becoming the next King of the Mountain. Of course there were the inevitable snowball fights as well. And if we were lucky enough to find a stretch of ice on the playground, we took running leaps and slid.
That was what we called fun way back in those days. I remember well what it felt like to be just sizzling with energy and wanting to run and leap and climb trees. Back then, having fun was simple, and required no special gear; it was just fun.
I truly hope that kids today have as much fun as we did. I’m sure that today’s technology is a big part of kids’ lives now, but I do hope that they still can enjoy the outdoors, make good friends and have their own games, songs and jokes as we did. It turns out that these things become some of our best memories.