Swinging

While walking yesterday, I passed by two boys playing on a tree swing in their front yard – a big yard on a corner.  One boy would sit on the swing, pull it back and then both boys would yell “Three, Two, One”.  Then the first boy would push off in a big arc and the second boy would try to hit him with a large rubber ball.  I guess the countdown was to try to even the odds… hitting the swinging boy looked nigh on impossible.  I pretended to do a doggie clean up so I could watch them a little while longer.  They were about 10 and having a terrific time.

I know that most of us remember playing like this as kids.  One of the games that we neighborhood kids made up when I was in third/fourth grade was called “Dragoons” (yes, spelled the way we pronounced it – no memory of how we came up with this name).  As horrifying as it sounds to my adult ears, we played this after the sun went down in the summer; as soon as we saw a car approaching, we would dart across the street.  If the car lights actually illuminated you, then you had been “dragooned” and had to sit out for a bit.   It wasn’t really a game of chicken, because you were supposed to be well clear of the lights — it probably wasn’t as dangerous as it sounds although I’m pretty sure I never told my mother we were doing this.  I don’t remember any close calls that summer and truth be told, it wasn’t a busy street.

Do you recall a favorite childhood game?  Anything you made up?

85 thoughts on “Swinging”

    1. I’ve always found it remarkable and kind of mysterious how games and their rhymes and terminology get passed from one generation of kids to another, sometimes across decades and even centuries. Things like “Annie Over” and “Olly Olly Oxen Free” and jump rope rhymes and the like.

      Liked by 5 people

  1. Hop Scotch. Marbles.
    Around 1960, I adapted the card game, War, to a map of North and South Dakota. Each city contributed soldiers and resources to the battles. The concept is used in many computer games.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. i had a friend who created a civil war scene with guys glued to the ceiling of his room above the bed he had hanging on chains for the ceiling. he figured out what glue would allow for failure after a week or two and the guys eventually started falling off the ceiling and were proclaimed dead. i think it took 3 months for the war to be over. not my kind of entertainment but he was an odd duck

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  2. Kick the Can comes to mind, and Starlight Starbright, but I was young enough then that I don’t remember how it went. And hop scotch and jump rope, of course. I was sort of sad that these weren’t part of the scene when my child was young.

    We did a sort of Scoop the Loop thing on our bikes, riding on the sidewalk down to and around the mulberry tree on our corner. And then my best friend Sandy and our sisters played Roy Rogers a lot – She was Roy, I was Dale, her sister was Pat Brady and my sis was Trigger. We sometimes used neighbors’ front porches as part of the terrain…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I played Annie Oakley a lot, with my stick horse and six shooters. Mostly I ran around rescuing my sister’s dolls from danger (I did not play with dolls, my my sister had a menagerie of them which made suitable victims of villains).

      As a social worker, I think I am now a professional Annie Oakley, without the stick horse.

      Liked by 7 people

  3. I grew up I a neighborhood without other children, and the s&h more or less the same situation.

    Lots of elders around, and that also shaped our respective childhoods (yes people, I now refer to the s&h’s childhood as a thing of the past. I know, I know).

    Most of our “old” neighbors have moved on, one way or another, and younger families have bought those houses.

    With schools and other activities closed at this point, the neighborhood has the nice “retro” sound of children playing.

    There’s always a silver lining.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. I agree about the sound of kids playing. I am very happy that the new neighbors just to the north and the new neighbors just north of them both have young girls so even with shelter in place this summer, I heard plenty of kids playing.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. There also was a play ground game in which two children would sit in adjacent swings, get swinging real fast and high, and then manoevor the swings so that the chains wrapped around each other and the swingers twirled around and around.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. OMG, our teachers would have had a fit if we tried that.

      Swinging high enough for the person pushing to run under the swing usually got their immediate attention.

      There was a name for doing that, and I cannot think of it, which is bothering me no end.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. To really get a swing high, you stand on the seat and pump. To get very high, you need a swing with long chains, maybe 12 feet. If you bail out with a tall swing really swinging, you better have soft ground to land on. Running underneath, as Bill says, is Underdogs. So-called safety experts have dumbed down swings and slides until they aren’t tall enough to be worth using. A new class of experts has appeared to point out that a slide four feet tall is useless if kids ignore it

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        1. The reason underdogs is so fresh in my mind is not because I have that good a memory but because my granddaughters, when I push them on the swing, want ME to do underdogs. As much as I like to please them, something tells me my underdog days are long past.

          Liked by 5 people

        2. you just need a different swing my two-year-old insists on being outside at all times when he’s at my house we have a trampoline we have a swimming pool and in one corner of the yard is a giant oak tree that I had my 25-year-old former pitcher son throw a rock with a string attached to it over the branch that’s 50 feet up in the air

          did that string I tied the rope that was to be the rope swing for the left side we did it again and attach the rope swing that was to be the right side so now we have 250 foot long ropes hanging down that got attached to the baby swing and while it’s a long run to do the underdog it’s not the least bit difficult and the kid gets to swing a full 15 seconds back in the other direction and then finish the ark and come back at me and it is quite a swing

          I was thinking about doing another one for me with the loveseat that normally goes in the stand on your porch but I happen to have a couple of spare loveseats without the stands that would be wonderful hanging from a tree and there would be no underdog required

          Liked by 4 people

        3. Yes, you could stand up and pump back in the day when there were REAL swings made from boards, not these rubber strap abominations. Riverview Park in Marshalltown IA had the tallest swing I’d ever seen, and I loved it. Glad there are still folks who know what a good swing is, and thanks tim for making one.

          Liked by 5 people

  5. Capture the Flag, Hide ‘n Seek, Allie Allie Over, Red Rover, Swinging (often involving bailing out), Marbles, Simon Says, Crack the Whip, Tag, Telephone, Musical Chairs.

    Some guys and I played a version of Mumblety Peg that involved throwing jacknives near an opponent’s feet. We didn’t tell adults about many of the games we played. It was the Fifties, and every neighborhood was filled with kids.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. There was a kind of bizarre and pointless game played on the playground in elementary school, where a line of kids would stand against the school building and perpendicular to it. Then they would rhythmically press the child in front between the building and the line of kids while chanting, “Squish” (push) “Squash” (push) “Applesauce” (push) “Evie” (push) “Ivey” (push) —at this point the child in front would slip out and the next in line would move to the front—”Over!”

    Sometimes they did this the entire recess.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Occupational Therapists who specialize in Sensory Integration techniques would tell you that those kids were actually meeting physical needs for calming their bodies with that game.

      Liked by 5 people

        1. The concept of it makes me think of Claudia Schmidt’s recitation of piece she wrote called “Skin Gangsters.”

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  7. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Almost all the games listed are games I played as a child. During recess, we played endless games of softball because the Wilson brothers, whose father was a coach at the college, were baseball aficionados and in their father’s tradition, ran the playground.

    The girls (when we were not playing softball with the Wilsons) played jacks and jumped rope both in the the neighborhood and at school

    I wish kids had those long recesses still with these games. Our brains needed the break from learning. Everyone dreaded rainy days or days when it was way below zero and we could not be outside for recess. Inevitably Tom Trobaugh and Jimmy Miller got in trouble on those days without recess.

    Liked by 5 people

        1. i lived on a street that was flat where i lived and then about 6 houses away the landscape started falling off and it became a serious hill that went down to the school yard at the bottom. on a summer day when the rain came down hard you could lay down in the road and get the water to go around you out into the road and all the way across the street. same hill provided a place to sail popsicle sticks under the ice when the spring thaw started. it could take a really long time to get to the bottom of the hill if the popsicle stick went in one end of the snow drift but didnt come out the other end without a little prodding

          Liked by 5 people

  8. Morning- there are pictures of my 7th birthday party with several friends and cousins. We are outside playing— what’s the name of the game where you squat down and the kid jumps over you then squats down and you jump over them?
    Mom says no one knew how to play that and she had to show us.
    In high school, because we had keys to the auditorium, we played tag in there. There was a setting that only turned on about half the house lights. It was a huge auditorium that sat 1100 people, and we would hide in the rows of the seats and shout “runaway“ (from Monty Python and the Holy Grail). It was tag around the seats in low light.
    Sounds silly but we spent a lot of days doing that. You got real good at scooting sideways through the seats.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. LeapFrog – thank you.
      Swings – It was always a big deal to get swinging, then launch yourself out of the seat in order to fly. Course when I tried it, the hem of my denim jacket hooked on the ‘S’ hook for the seat, ripped the bottom 2″ off the jacket and curtailed my launch. Don’t remember getting hurt, just how much I liked the jacket.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Several of my regular neighborhood games have been mentioned – tag being one of them. We had a version we called “TV Tag” that was a version of Freeze Tag: when you got tagged you froze in place with your legs wide. You could only be unfrozen by another player scooting between your legs shouting out the name of a TV show. Show names could not be repeated. If one was repeated, both you and our un-freezer were now frozen. The person who was “it” would win if everyone was frozen. Another “stand in place” game was statues – a bunch of us would be the statues and one or two people wandered the gallery figuring out what we were (think “charades” without clues or motion). Another was “school” – there were a couple of families with long, steep steps in front because their houses were on a hill. You started on the lowest step (“kindergarten”) and advanced up the step against your opponents by guessing which hand the teacher held a rock in. There were rules that I have forgotten that meant you could fail your way all the way back to “kindergarten”…

    Liked by 5 people

    1. We played a variation on the statues game called “swing the statue”. One person would swing us around by the arms and however you landed, you had to freeze, like a statue. I broke a finger doing this one summer.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. My daughter was a RenFest wench in the 1990s. It was disconcerting to see how readily one’s sweet little girl could become a braying, leering wench. You could accept this if you assumed she was sweet in real life but bawdy “in character.” But that raises the question of which is the real daughter, the sweet one or the earthy wench.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. so pj and anna what locations did you do it at? pj were you in jonathan? out by chases before that was taken over by suburbia? anna sown 169 in jordan on the way to mankato ?

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        2. All my years were at the Shakopee site – though the site was smaller when I started, and the horse track was an actual full oval when I started. Shortened while I was there first to a 1/4 mile then right before I left shortened again to just the jousting stretch. Puke and Snot were still an act in one of the lanes my first years – they moved onto their own stage while I was there.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Many of the games mentioned above were also part of my childhood games; the Danish versions of them, of course.

    Also, girls played a lot of ball up against a wall. Like hopscotch and jump rope, these games were often ritualized and became progressively more difficult as you went along. Usually, you used only one ball, but if you were really good at it, you could do two or even three.

    And then, when I was a teen, there was the hula-hoop. Again, usually a girls’ activity. We’d spend hours perfecting the tricks we could do with one or more hula-hoops.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. My friends and I played pretty much every game listed so far.We also played Tickle Witch which was probably torture for my older sister since she was extremely ticklish. We had the largest back yard so softball games were played there. Home plate was a spot just in front of the clothes line, first base was a leg of the swing set, second base was a perennial plant that we eventually turned into a dirt patch, and third base a dirt patch by the back door. If there were only three available to play, we played Chicken Base Bounce Out – a batter, pitcher, and outfielder. If you hit the ball, you had to run to first base and back. You could be tagged out or thrown out as you headed home as long as the ball was thrown between you and home plate. At least, I think that was how it was played. Oh…and of course, Duck Duck Gray Duck.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. When I was growing up I never heard of Duck Duck Gray duck so I didn’t realize there was even a controversy about it until I moved to Minnesota. I kind of like duck duck Gray duck instead of DuckDuckGoose — just a personal affinity.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. my neighborhood would tap you on the head saying duck duck gray duck duck duck and the when the said goose that person chased you around the circle and you jumped back in their place before they did
          that was a birthday party girls game from what i remember but it looked fun

          Liked by 1 person

  12. when i was little the neighborhood was crawling with new suburbanites and each had 3 or 4 kids and you could do a baseball team just from your block. we didnt even know the kids 3 blocks away because they all their own neighborhood to hang with. we had our woods and our chunk of the river and our secret bicycle paths and fairy woods and secret artesian wells and i found out later that they all had theirs too. it was a magic time of life in a magic place. the city of bloomington in 1957 was a population of 13,000 and there was literally a cornfield across the street with mrs staples who owned the cornfield living down on the corner with no running water or electricity because she was so afraid of a repeat of the crash an the depression that all she had was the field and the 20×40 cabin built on the corner by her dad 50 yearsearlier when the dirt road that crossed the river went by the property. we would ride our bikes all day everyday and hike te woods and invent ways to spend the day as we went along. i remember spitting in the palm of my hand and smacking it with my pointer finger on the other hand to see which way the spit would fly and thats the way we went for the day. no plans no need to get organized or have a goal. just do it for the moment was kind of the kid life i grew up with. i never thought about it. there was always something to do that was really interesting. games and organized stuff was part of it but not like the vidiots of today who play on their phone their ipad their computer everywhere they go. no down time no thoughts that evolve into life studies and preferrences.
    im sounding old.
    back in my day… candy was only a penny… we walked to school and if we misbehaved at school we got paddled (public school ont the catholic s) the catholics did it differently.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Sounds like a wonderful free and carefree childhood, tim. Sounds like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn would have fit right in if you could have scrounged up a couple of bikes for them.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. nobody ever did a follow up on tom and huck to see what become of them once they growed up.
          the vw van was a great bridge and then on to sales and the next adventure
          it was a special time wasn’t it ?

          Liked by 3 people

  13. Sunday afternoon has become for me Untouchables day.
    The cable channel Heroes and Icons show multiple episodes. The stars featured are amazing.
    We did play cops and robbers on ice skates. Sorta like flag football. Only two robbers. All the rest on defense with socks at the belt. Robbers eliminated cops by stripping them of socks. All was timed. 5 minutes. Totally backward of police justice.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. oh we had a fun one when i was in high school and smoking lots of drugs. we would start with and apple and then the next guy would say apple banana then the next guy would add the c and the next the d the next the e and while we walked around the streets saying the next word and trying to make it tricky as we went along adding words that didnt come easy instead of elephant youd throw in existential and follow it with farenheit and gastromonical . if you got to z and started back it was amazing how your brain doesnt do the alphabet backwards the same wasy as it does frontwards. every now and again wed get kick ass stuff and have a hard time making it to m

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