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Games We Played...

[Post Followup] [San Francisco Memories Board]

Posted by Jim Carroll on Saturday, June 23, 2007 at 05:52:28 :

You constantly hear the refrain that the poor kids of today have nothing to do. I guess they are tired of their X-boxes, cell-phones, television and all that other stuff. When we were kids, growing up in the 40s, there seemed to be something to do all the time.

For example, there were skates, but they had to be clamped on to our shoes and woe to the kid that did not have adequate shoe soles. (And many of us suffered for that mistake!) But you had to use skate keys, those funny looking things that tightened down the clamps so that you could pull tight the straps. You kept the key on a string around the neck so you wouldn’t lose it. Now kids have fancy skate boards, nothing like those old fashioned skates. Some even have in-line skates that you just pull on like shoes.

Bikes and Trikes were quite the thing - if your parent could afford one. (We had just come out of the Depression and the War was on.) Now kids get them each year so that they can grow into them – some even have them motorized; even if they aren’t street legal they run them anyway. It was a big thing when we could get a Radio Wagon, but now they have radios in the many different sizes of wagons

Ah, milk-bottle caps – you collected them and tried to find as many different ones as possible. But then someone would come along and challenge you, sometimes called slammers. You would toss your cap down and hope that the other person could not cover it and be the correct size, and if it did not come out right you lost it. Another way was to stack you caps one side up and the other guy would slam his into the stack and any that turned were his. One of the reasons why the boys from Mission Delores hung out at the Golden State diary on Guerrero was that there were all those new caps. Remember though, there was cream in milk bottles and you had to wash the caps pretty well or they stunk after a while. But darn it, milk cartons became the rage and there was no more slap or slammers.

That was the same with the limited baseball cards, which you only got when you purchased bubble gum. Now let’s see, a Mars or Clark Bar or baseball cards – oops, bubble gum! One of our past times was to visit the Golden Nugget candy factory up at Delores and Market, where we could sometimes pester the employees to give us some out-of-wack Big Hunk or Look candy bars.

And then there were the spinning wooden tops with those magic ends. You were lucky if you got the opponent to send his top spinning and then you tried to spike his – usually destroying the top when you struck it correctly. There were a lot of things to do, when you were not “nipping” a ride on a streetcar’s cow catcher, but you had to watch out for those conductors.

There was another .game we played where the kids had to run from one safety zone to another, across the school yard, where the chaser had to wait for them to cross, calling “Pom-Pom-Pullaway.” There are also freeze tag and group tag. With freeze tag, the tagged person could not move until someone from his team “unfroze” him.

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