Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Jump Rope.
Dodge Ball.
4 Square aka ABC.
Hop Scotch.
Red Rover Red Rover.
Chinese Jump Rope (always with a homemade 'rope' of rubber bands)
Roller skating. 
Hide n' Seek.

This is the short list of street and playground games I used to play as an elementary school kid, growing up in the North Beach/ Chinatown/Nob Hill district of San Francisco. The backyard of our rented flat was small, yet sufficient in size for roller skating in an oval configuration, or to stage mini versions of Big League Baseball games. Urban playgrounds were few, far between and small in size as well. But life was simple and we didn't require much to have fun. We just went out - and played. Every day.

Times have changed, but have the games?

How do children play on the playgrounds/streets of SF today?
Are they still exercising both small and large motor skills with the simplest of props/toys? Practicing solo, as well as interacting with their buddies?

Or -
are kids, even when in the company of their peers, 'clicked' into a self-imposed solitary confinement via their iPhones or mp3 players?

[ image of jacks and ball is from ]

Bonus pic/caption:
Oh, how I miss my roller skates (circa 1950's), which were metal clamp-on style Union brand, with leather straps padded with plaid-design foam strips and ball-bearing wheels (a fascinating study in and of themselves when they fell apart, with ball bearings spilled everywhere). They came with a skate key to tighten the nuts. I wore the key on a string 'round my neck.


Liz said...

Glad to see you mentioned hop scotch. All of these games you mentioned I played as well. We also used to taked our skates and put them on a board and then go down on the hills that had stairs. We also used to jump on the back of the Streetcars, in my case "The J Car" between 19th and 21st Streets. Have missed seeing your updates.

Conn said...

i fear it's the OR...
but i could be wrong... seeing as i don;t have kids or live near any...

baffle said...

hooooohoooooo! we two be big city girls, alright. i did the same on my skate, with a book jammed in where the shoe part goes - then sit on the book and ride the skate down the hills - i'd race the cable cars, and always won. but i never ever braved the bumpety bump on hills with stairs, like you did! you the gutsy girl, you are!

baffle said...

C, I'd think that where you are, kids would be running, swimming, doing outdoors activities galore. Not? Perhaps in the big city on that OTHER island, even the young ones are texting on their cell phones at the shopping mall...

sad, but true?

Conn said...

we live in the boonies and up until a few months ago had 3 kids living next door. (loud kids). most kids here are at the beach or doing meth. and stealing to support the meth habit.
young kids... like 12 years old and up. we know of several kids that have already been in rehab and juvenile all before the age of 16.
sad isn't it? don't get me wrong... there are lots of good kids out there, but it's kind of a lazy island. i think that areas of the island that have real neighborhoods and houses next to each other with paved roads and such have more kids out and playing...

but i really think here the main activity is surfing and boogy boarding along with skate boarding.

Napster #46 said...

I just landed, and I like it here. I've stumbled into a drawing room or comfortable parlor. I put my hat and overcoat in the cloak room. Followed the scented oil aroma and found a comfy overstuffed chair with big armrests under a Tiffany lamp. Can hear a little Mozart playing in the background and my herbal tea is beside me steeping.

My very first 'blog' I have visited. So, relaxing to nibble here and there. Not exactly the movable feast, but a tapas bar that teases and pleases. Each word adding to the character and personality of the writer and new found friend.

I am definitely staying on board this smooth cruise down Memory Lane. Give me a nudge every other hour so I don't miss dinner time.

Liz said...

@B, well we both also liked sliding down the bannister's as well, haha!!!! When we lived over in the East Bay, the boys used to get a cardboard box and would go over across the way and slide down the open space hill. I could see them from our kitchen window and knew we would have dirty, dirty, green jeans. But they were having fun. Believe the rule is to NOT have ON the TV and make the kids get outside and play except when it is raining and all.

baffle said...

Napster ~~ welcome. anytime. any day. My only hope is not to run out of topic ideas for future blog posts. I'm sure you'd appreciate the artsy crafty ones... Ha ha.

Liz ~~ Thank you - for you just gave me a blog post idea. It will be titled 'TV On' and be as curmudgeonly as all get out. Look for it in the not-too-distant future!

Liz said...

and I am guilty of leaving it on when it is just Ron and I. However, lately I have just been putting on the music and that sure is a lot nicer. It is funny, Micah has a rule (which was mine when he was younger and he detested), no TV on when they are eating dinner. I was like all miffed when this happened during the world series. So I told Chloe to hurry up and eat so we could watch "Buster Posey", haha. When she is over here she gets 1 hr in the morning and then it is off. I'll watch for your post.