The kind of fun kids had when I was coming up was quite different from the attempts at amusement I observe today. For example, we played the simple games of rover-red-rover, Mother may-I, sling the statue, hide-and-seek, leap frog, etc. over and over again, often till way after dark when someone’s mother would insist upon the cessation of noise. Computer games can’t compete with the joy, laughter and physical exercise these activities required.
Even the inside games we played elicited more exuberance than the ones I see around me in 2012. Our church group played upset the applecart at almost every opportunity. And, when we could convince our adult leaders to chaperone it, we would go down to the Ouachita River for a wiener roast. This activity didn’t require a great deal of advance planning. We dumped a block of ice into a washtub, adding soft drinks thereunto, bought some mustard, buns and wieners and took off to the river. We told ghost stories, jokes and tall tales around the fire. We sang such songs as “Do, Lord,” “Kumbaya,” and “This Little Light of Mine.” On one of these river outings, when I was in the “Young People” class at church, the leaders allowed us to play spin the bottle. But, instead of getting or giving a kiss when the bottle pointed to us, we got to walk hand in hand around the edge of the firelight. A lot of romances were sparked that evening.
One of our leaders in the Young People department was a single guy named Silvertooth. I always thought that was an odd name for him, because he had perfectly aligned pearly whites, not a silver one among them. But Silvertooth was a great outdoorsman and he liked to take kids fishing. One Saturday in the springtime, he loaded about 15 of us, both male and female loaded he us, into his Studebaker pickup truck and took us to a very remote pond. He provided the poles, bait and tow sacks for the fish we caught. The fish we caught—catfish, bream, a bass or two and some grindle—were abundant. I had a sack full. A very annoying kid who was not a regular in our group did not catch a single fish because he was too busy bothering the others.
It just happened that Silvertooth let that guy and me out of the truck at the same stop. The annoying boy grabbed his fishless tow sack and followed me towards my house. I knew he lived in the other direction, so I asked, “Where are you going?”
“I’m coming home with you. You are going to share your fish with me.” And, to get rid of him, I did, right there on the spot. In fact I handed him the whole sack full, mainly because I didn’t want to clean them.
But, what I started out to say was that we used to have fun outside and we got plenty of exercise. Just about any recreation we did required us to move around a lot. Hoping not to sound like an old man longing for the “good old days,” I’d like to say we need more of that kind of fun today.