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On the games we played in the 'good old days'


When a person gets older and converses with friends the topic occasionally gets around to the “good old days” when we were younger. That was the case earlier this week when a few of us started talking about the games we played as young kids. You have to remember that back then there were no cell phones or ipads or video games on televisions – many of us didn’t even have a television. And for a few the number of stations to watch was a maximum of two or three. So, for entertainment we had to come up with something to keep us from getting bored. As we compared the games we played it seemed to me that they all involved running at some level.

Of course, Tag was the standard of running around with the rule that you could not “tag back” the person that tagged you. Red Rover was a common game played all over the country for every kid. Since we were too young to drive a car and the small towns were relatively safe, a bike ride across town was no big deal. And bikes only had one speed back then. No ten speed stuff. I was fortunate to live across the street from a slough and park that had a road around it that was a little over half a mile around. The challenge was to have one kid head left and the other kid go right and then see who could make it back to the start first. The only rule was that the kid who went left had to finish on the inside of the road and the kid that went right had to finish near the outside of the road so there was not a collision at the finish of a close race.

“Kick the Can” also seemed to be a common game between us. The kid would chase the kicked can and count to 50 while the other kids ran and hid someplace. The goal of the “it” kid was to find the other kids and make it back to the can to call them out. If a kid beat him, or her, back to the can and kicked it, the other kids were now free and he had to start all over again. You better be able to do a fast sprint or you would be “it” for a long time. It was especially hard for the “it” if we played under a street light at night in the dark. Usually if the kid was “it” for more than three times we selected a new kid to be “it."

We had a lead up game for running backs in high school called, “Pump, Pump, Pull You Away” where the “it” would be in the middle between two lines about 15 yards apart. At the command the kids had to run to the opposite line and “it” would try to touch them. Getting touched meant you had to join the kid in the middle. By the time there was only one kid left to run through the rest of the group any coach knew who his running back was going to be when the kid got to high school.

For baseball skills we had the game, “Anti-I-Over” where two teams were on opposite sides of a house. The object was to throw the ball over the house after the chant of “Anti-I- Over” so the other team knew when the ball was coming over the house. If you caught the ball on the fly you could run around the house to try and hit one of the other team’s kids with the ball and they would be on your side. I was amazed that you could never see the other team catch the ball, but I don’t recall any kid cheating and catching the ball on a bounce, and then run around after the other team. Fair play was pretty much a given for young kids back then.

Baseball also had the game of “500” where the batter hit the baseball and if you caught it on the fly it was worth 100 points. A one bouncers was 75 points, two bounces was 50, and grounders were 25 points. When the kid that got to 500 first got to be the batter. Looking back on it we were using our math skills adding our points, as well as every other kid out in the field, to make sure he added his score right. The chance of having enough kids in a neighborhood to play teams had a game of “One O’ Cat” where as long as you had five kids you could play baseball. One pitcher, a catcher, a batter, and two fielders. When the batter hit the ball he had to run to first base and back to home before the fielders could get the ball back to home base. If he beat the throw he got to bat again, if not, he went out to right field and worked his way back up to left field, pitcher, and catcher, before he could bat again.

Equipment for a game often came down to an old rubber tire. It was fun just to roll the tire up and down the street and chase after it. Of course, there was always a challenge between tires as to who could race the fastest to the end of the block. Today’s kids would never imagine chasing a tire down the street for fun, but we had to get rid of all that energy someway.

When it got dark in the evening the games took on a new twist. One was “Hope I See a Ghost Tonight” where one kid hid and was the “ghost”. We went looking for him and he waited for someone to get close to catch him. If the “frightened” kid was fast and ran back to the home base before being touched the “ghost” was once again the “ghost”. Either way games back then seemed to always have running as a requirement.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666