"Let's go play"
written by Ron:
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Kids used to play in the streets – with their neighbors, in front of their
houses, in plain view of mom and dad. Weekends would find kids playing catch, throwing a scrungy old football around, pretending they
were their quarterback hero. After school, until the mothers called “dinner is ready,” the streets would be filled with kids of all
ages, throwing and batting balls, playing hide-and-go-seek, roller skating, shooting marbles, jumping rope and sometimes getting into
There were chalk marks on the pavement, indicating home
plate and the three bases. Foul lines were often the length of the gutters and a row of parked cars. Anything hit past the old Buick
was a foul ball.
Jumping rope was fun and (little did anyone realize it)
aerobic. Only the best got to do “double Dutch.”
Over on the best part
of the sidewalk the girls were playing hopscotch (boys rarely participated). The artsy girl would take her chalk and draw the hopscotch
squares and if the neighborhood was upper middle class or beyond the squares were in different chalk colors. And each girl would have
her favorite marker – most of the time their favorite key chain.
and girls would be playing dodge ball together, learning some of the differences between the sexes.
Quietly, but enthusiastically, testing their hand-eye coordination, were the girls playing Jacks.
There were no supervisors or recreation leaders. Parents peered from their living room windows, making sure that there was an absence
Summertime was glorious. Kids could spend
every waking hour playing in the street. When they tired of baseball they could wander over and join the dodge ball game. It stayed
light until 8 p.m. and that was about the time that some of the parents would wander outside and maybe share an iced tea or a beer.
Neighbors would actually know each other.
Every summer day was a block
party (without the food). Kids got to “stay out late.” They learned about different religions and skin colors and most of the time
Summers brought together the younger kids and the older ones
on the street. Kids couldn’t wait until they “graduated” from “that little kid” to the teenager who could run faster, throw harder
and maybe even kissed a girl once.
The streets are empty now. Impatient drivers
don’t want to slow down or stop for kids playing. Kids are inside watching television or clutching their cell phones. Too often both
parents are working. If the kids play it’s in an organized activity with an organized adult leading them. They can’t get bored with
one game and go play another. They have spiffy uniforms and they look like miniature big-leaguers. They’re out playing soccer in full
uniforms – boys and girls.
I just wonder if they’re having as much fun
as their parents and grandparents did. Their was a certain charm in walking out your front door and having a couple of the neighborhood
kids say, “Hey, wanna go play?”
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