City Kids

Back in the day (oh gawd don’tcha just hate that phrase?) us city kids played in the streets. Nowadays kids play in their rooms on their electronics or in organized sports leagues/teams.  We were always outside, even when the weather wasn’t so great. There were city playgrounds where you could play on the swings and monkey bars, (now verboten because – opps, kids might get hurt) and see-saws.  There was a “parkie” who would dispense basketballs and even board games like checkers and chess (there were stone tables with the boards painted on). The parkie also kept major mayhem from breaking out and was responsible for opening and locking the playground.  Some playgrounds had skully and potsy  lines painted as well.

But most of the time we played skully, potsy, box ball, and stoop ball on the sidewalk in front of our homes. The streets were for stickball, and catcher/flyers/up, War and Red Rover. As I recall games like Ringolevio were started later in the day and were called for dinner, some kids called the game for dark but we played in the dark – lots of streetlamps where I lived.

Oh yes there was basketball and all that – so many games that involve a ball of some size. Lots of ‘tag’ games, lots of running around, lots of dodging cars in the street (and yes, dodgeball, which to my mind  is a nasty little game.)

What I remember most pleasantly is that Summer evenings the older kids would include the little kids in kinder gentler games of tags – like freeze tag or statues – we played those on grassy areas so the littles wouldn’t get hurt – I remember that so vividly.

I wonder what kids today will remember? Or for that matter what do all the named and numbered generations after mine remember of their youth?

Perverse Child – Part 3

The story of me, the carnival and the cowboy gun and holster –

Time: 1950 or thereabouts, I was 4 -ish

Place: Somewhere in the Bronx at a street carnival.

Action: A game of chance booth, the carnival version of roulette. My daddy lets me choose a number. I win. I ask for the cowboy gun and holster set. I get handed a doll. I have a temper tantrum – I want the gun and holster. I throw the doll on the ground and smash it. I demand the gun and holster. My daddy drags me away crying.

End of story.

More Evidence That I Was A Perverse Child

Y’all think I’m a little strange, right? Sometimes I have a slightly skewed take on things. Well, I’ve kinda always been this way. As evidence, here is a story I wrote in 7th grade (approximately 1958/1959) which was published in our school “literary” magazine. Every time I read it I have to laugh. First because it is so badly written and second because I still think a kid who thinks like that is just a teeny tiny bit weird. 

In the bones

This morning while I was folding laundry I found myself humming an old hymn, We Gather Together.  When my brain is on auto I find it will usually start singing hymns – old church music.  I love church music but the old ones, the old kind, the church music of my youth. 

There is a bit of church music that plays in my head, the Doxology, at odd times, day or night, and honestly sometimes I sing myself to sleep with it. The doxology is usually sung after the offering.  Why this piece of music is my constant companion I have no idea. 

Now you would think, with all this church music playing in my head, that perhaps I was a god-fearing, church-going Christian of some ilk or the other. You would be wrong. 

But that said – from the age of 12 until 18 I lived in church; it was my life. I was a devoted and passionate Protestant; a member of the the Congregational Church. And I had plans to become a minister. (Oh yes, way back then girls could aspire to be ordained ministers in the Congregational Church. The Congregational Church in the United States ordained their first female minister in 1853.) 

As I grew older and wiser and more educated I fell away from Christianity and organized religions altogether.  They make no sense. Then again, Faith, with a capital ‘F’,  makes no sense, that is it’s very definition – belief without proof. 

I am long past the point where I need to give a name to what I believe. I have no need to personify or anthropomorphize what I believe. I have no need to discuss or explain what I believe. Because I feel it in my bones and my gut. And it is not a god, or goddess and trying to talk about my beliefs using common terms muddles everything because we humans have this need to name everything and then ascribe a common definition and that just doesn’t work in this situation. 

I realize the efficacy of common terms and definitions, regardless of the language we all pretty much understand the concept of ‘chair’.  But the concept of a belief – a quote/unquote religious belief? Yeah, not so much understanding. If someone asks me if I believe in god, I say “Whose?” because that word doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. 

It’s a muddle. Certainly there are many things in all religions that make no rational sense but when you are talking about a supernatural being, how much is really going to make sense? 

Do I believe in a supernatural being? No. I can’t wrap my head around there being a male, patriarchal god, who had a son via a human female and that this son is the same “person” as the father yet – here’s the part that has always confused me, this son, who is also the father, is the one who everyone prays to and the one who will ‘save’ us all.  And what exactly are we all being saved from? I’ve just never understood the son part. 

And if god and son are one and the same then just pray to the god – and let us not even bring up the holy spirit because no one knows who or what the hell that is.  The Christian religion makes my head explode. I have no doubt that if I delved deeply into other religions there would be more head explosions because they are all myths. Stories of the supernatural to explain what human beings had no answer for. 

Human beings have made huge advances in 4 million years – we now know the whys and wherefores of most natural phenomena. Yet we still hold on to the myths ancient humans created to explain them. 

Do I have a point here? No – I’m just saying what I want to say because if I said this in polite company a lot of people would get their shorts in a knot. 

I’m not here writing for you, I’m here writing for me.