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Remember when it seemed summer vacation lasted for YEARS? I thought it the best time EVER, and my friends and I found plenty to keep us busy.

A favorite among the boys was mumblety-peg, in which the player threw his pocket knife from various angles, trying to make it stick in the ground. In our version, we played in pairs and the object was to land the knife in the ground, as close to our opponent as possible, without hitting him or her. You know what came next. Yep, a long-time friend still has a scar on her shin from her mumblety-peg game with her brother. Rumor has it that an ice pick was involved.

I sometimes wonder if our moms knew we played it. Even though most of them were at home full-time, no helicopter parents there. They were too busy vacuuming, dusting, doing laundry and cooking to watch kids play.

girl playing dress up

Sometimes my next-door neighbor, Bonnie, and I played dress-ups. Her family had a more elaborate lifestyle than ours, so she had gowns and lots of fancy get-ups for us to wear. A picture shows us, all gussied up, in my driveway. You’d have thought we were Paris Hilton and Princess Kate.

kids doing back bends

Because Bonnie was athletic, she often wanted to do stunts and wrestle. (That last word, by the way, pronounced in our Hoosier twang, was “rassle.”) There we are in the picture, doing backbends in her front yard. She was also an expert at wrestling holds. I swear, the girl could have belonged to the WWF.

Sometimes, my other neighbor, Susie, and I packed a picnic lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, chips and a jug of Kool Aid. We pedaled our bikes up St. Clair Hill, marched up Indian Mound and surveyed the view while we ate.

By August, with summer at its hottest, Bonnie and I often played dolls on a blanket under a shade tree. We’d dress them up for evenings out, trips to the beach or even ice skating. Other times we went inside and played Hearts or Old Maid. Jacks and Pick-Up Stix were not my favorites; they required the patience of Job and the skill of a surgeon, and I had neither.  

Amazingly, we got through an entire summer without running out of things to do. Nowadays, if the toy/game doesn’t flash or roar, eating batteries like candy, kids think it’s no fun. We Old Schoolers were “cheap dates.”


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