Last week in my sessions at the Cavendish and Newholme hospitals, we talked about toys and games through the ages. We had a go on yoyos and tried to play jacks (but without much success!) We talked about home-made go-carts, also known as “trollies”, and shared memories of adjustable rollerskates that fitted on over our shoes. I remember owning a pair of these, given to me second-hand by my grandparents. I wasn’t very confident, and only made it as far as the end of the driveway before falling over in a heap.
I was able to share many of the memories with the patients. I grew up in the infancy of computer games – when I was little, Pac Man and Space Invaders were marvelled-at novelties. My childhood was also full of home-made fun – snail racing (!), making camps out of clothes horses, and yes, as the patients also recalled, constructing bows and arrows from twigs and thin green branches snapped off trees as we “played out” in the back lane near my childhood house in Kendal.
Toys and Games from childhoods past
Boys playing with Hornby train sets.
Wind them up and go, heavy cast iron.
Girls nurturing dollies in prams,
Dressing them with hand-knitted cardigans.
Crouching in the gutter
Flicking marbles: blood olives.
Whipping tops: big Bens and monkey tops
Chalked in different colours, spinning.
Grab each other silly in kiss chase.
Chant skipping rhymes until we are dizzy.
Catch lead jacks and snobs on the backs of hands
Marvel at the patterns made by kaleidoscopes.
Scratching with stones on the pavement:
Skip and jump hopscotch on concrete.
Hide and seek, sardines crammed tight.
Lurky, lurky: one, two, three! You’re on!
Strapping on our roller skates,
Hanging onto the side of the house
As we pull ourselves up again,
Knees skinned and bleeding.
Building go-carts and trollies
Steered by feet and ropes
The brake: our plimsolls’ rubber
Hot as we career on old pram wheels.
Balsawood planes with lead noses.
Finding twigs to make catapults –
Dennis the Menace our role model
Desperate Dan our cow-pie hero.
Putting fireworks up exhaust pipes
Cutting the hair off our sister’s dolls
Firing air rifles at makeshift targets.
Spud gun pellets ricocheting
Bending thin branches into bows with twig arrows.
Robin Hood fantasies in the woods.
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Wearing our Davy Crockett hats with pride.
Firing rulers loaded with inky blotting paper.
Ducking the board rubber thrown by the teacher.
Squishy wet play plasticine, khaki green.
Reading Enid Blyton adventures with glee.
Childhoods from long ago: long gone
But vividly recalled in our minds.
Will the kids of today remember
Their first i-pad so fondly as our simple toys?