So, March 21st has come and gone and we are now in the spring season. The position of the vertical rays of the sun tells us it is so. I could go on with other scientific reasons that explain what brings on the four seasons of the year but in my youth I had my own way to tell what season it was.
Spring started when the kites took to the sky. You could by a plain kite for a nickel. If you wanted one with a picture it would cost you a dime. My mother would supply the rags to tie on the tail and the string needed to fly it.
Oh yes, other signs of spring were the marble games. We played three different marble games. First there was the “circle” game. We drew a circle on the ground and each player threw in one or two marbles. Then we stepped back a few feet to the start line and took turns carefully throwing our “shooter” marbles into the ring shooting at the other marbles trying to shoot them out of the circle. If you shot a marble out of the ring you could keep it and also have another turn. You could keep going until you missed. If you shot at another player’s “shooter” and hit it he would have to give you one of his marbles. The round was over when all the marbles in the circle were gone. The second game was called “pigs in the hole”. A small hole was dug into the dirt. Using the agreed upon number of marbles: 1,2,3 or more, players took turns trying to get them into the hole. You weren’t allowed to pick up the marbles you were aiming at the hole. Instead, you had to leave them on the ground and sort of flick them at the hole with your fingers. The player who got the most marbles into the hole kept all the other marbles “pigs in the hole”. The third game was “killer”. It was played like the circle game with a few differences. Instead of just throwing the marbles into the circle in the beginning, they were placed inside a triangle drawn in the dirt. Your “shooter”, on the first throw-in was not allowed to land in the triangle. If it went in you were DEAD! Out of the game. If your shooter was hit by another players shooter you were also “dead” and out of the game. The last marble out of the triangle ended the game or, if you were the last player to be “alive” you were the winner and got all the marbles in the triangle.
As the days became longer you could stay outside longer in the evenings. It was time to bring out the “shoe skates”. These were skates that clamped onto your shoes. You had a key that was used to tighten the clamp mechanism onto the front of your shoes. The back part of the skates was held on with straps that went around your ankles. Once our skates were securely fastened to our shoes we would head for the smooth cement on the driveway of the Westinghouse Research Facility and the hockey game was on! The puck might be an old “dead” rubber ball, a pine cone or a piece of wood. The hockey stick could be whatever would work. My favorite was an old straw broom with just a stub of the straw left on it.
Through the spring and summer we played “cowboys and Indians” in the local woods. Back in those days car tires had rubber tubes that held the air inside of them. When the tubes wore out they were thrown away. We used them to make “rubber band” guns. A “rubber band” gun was assembled as follows:
* A piece of wood 1x4 or 1x3, 6-8 inches long
* A piece of wood one inch square and 6 inches long for the “hammer”
* Three bands of inner tubing 1 inch wide to hold the two pieces of wood together
* A nail to use for a “trigger” was optional
* A supply of rubber bands usually tied with a knot.
One boy who we called “Moon” because of the shape of his head and his haircut made his “gun” using a three foot fence rail. When we saw it we surrendered because you sure didn’t want to get hit with a rubber band from this big gun. It Hurt! Moon didn’t like to reload as it was hard to stretch the bands the full three foot length of his gun.
Other summer activities included afternoon ball games and early evening games of kick the can, hide and seek, run sheep run and full games of hop scotch.
Oh my, the vertical rays of the sun are on the equator. This is called the “equinox” and it means the fall season is beginning. The clocks are turned back an hour, the birds are heading south. A large flock of birds flies over and someone shouts: “there goes my wedding”. You wait your turn and hope a bigger flock flies over because it means your wedding will be larger.
Fall means time for touch football. If no football was available we made one out of newspapers rolled up and tied with string. It served the purpose very well. The evenings began to get colder and it was time to build a fire down on the empty lot. Everyone would bring a potato to place in the hot coals. We’d wait until the potato skins were blackened and then carefully pull them out of the fire and break them open and eat the steaming hot potatoes. Nothing ever tasted better.
Then, before you know it SNOW! Get out the sleds, build the snowmen and snow forts. Lay down in the snow and make “snow angels”.
You could tell what season it was by the activities of the young people.
Remembering the joys of good childhood memories makes a good story in later years.
Tic, Tock my story is told out.