When We Used to Play Outside

Shirley’s childhood books thread got me all nostalgic - I started thinking about those games we played when we were kids, outside all afternoon until our parents yelled for us to comeinit’sgettingdarkout!
We spent hours playing things like bonded prisoner, kill-the-ball-carrier, kick the can, and green ghost, we also had a huge bolder in the back yard that was periodically a clipper ship a tank or an island surround by shark infested waters.
What were your games?

Kick the can, and Hide and Seek were my two favorites.

When I was a kid, I visit my cousins for the summer every year. They live out on a farm in Tyler, and they had rows of haystacks.

I invented a game I called Mutant. It was a variation on freeze tag.

The designated Mutant would chase the other players acroos the haystacks. If someone was tagged, they were “infected”. They would count down from 10. If a non-mutant touched them before the ten count, they were cured. If not, they became another mutant.

The winner was the last non-mutant left standing, or if the original mutant was unable to convert anyone by a certain set time limit.

We were kids, and it never occured to us to backstab each other. :slight_smile:

You say “cheesy” like that’s a BAD thing.

Ahhh…backyard games!
Kick the Can
Freeze Tag (one of my favs)
Hide and Go Seek
Jarts (those sharp lawn darts)

and my neighbors and I had dirtbikes that we loved to ride around on…we also caught snakes (which I’m now phobic about), fished and sledded a lot.
I’m all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it :slight_smile:

A friend is someone who likes you even though you’re as ugly as a hat full of assholes.

Hmm…tag, freeze tag, TV tag & other variations.

Kick the Can, Seven Steps Around the House, Ghost in the Graveyard, Bang, Hide & Seek, Sardines.

Football, baseball/wiffleball, kickball, spud, vollayball.

That’s about all I remember…

kick the can, knock a door ginger (we loved it but it sure pissed the neighbours off), army, simon says, and… like zette says… doctor… till we got caught!!

“Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

We used to play ghost in the graveyard at my uncle’s farm in Indiana. We waited until dark, and then went to town. Everyone got into the action, including the aunts and uncles. There were the greatest places to hide: Tractors, barns, haylofts, even a small family graveyard (not his family)! Aunt Lyn even got on the roof of the milking building, but was caught cause she rolled off.

One of my best friends and I made up a game called “Godesses”. We would pretend to be Greek Godesses (I was usually Athena), and the shadows made by the trees were the “clouds”. We would stand on the clouds and watch over the mortals. Hmmmm. Looking back, it doesn’t sound very exciting, but it kept us amused way back when.

We used to play" ".I can’t print it,because its a sound. All would hide,then the seekers would make the sound. If they were far enough away,they would sound back. We’d go in the direction of the sound. If they were silent,we knew we were near.

Favorites from childhood:

  1. Capture the flag (requires a fair number of kids).

  2. Sardines.

Kids don’t seem to play outside much anymore. Too bad.

Hide & Seek was my favorite, especially at night. I especially liked hiding in a really dark cubbyhole, they scaring the crap out of “it” if they passed me. Then while they were recovering from the scare, I dash to base. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

When I was a kid we used to play the game Marco Polo in my friend’s pool all the time. MarcoPoloFish out of water!

I didn’t think about kick the can until I saw the move Twilight Zone on TV today. (and then after reading this post)

“Trying is the first step towards failure.” Homer Simpson

Buttball: some short-lived invention that involved throwing a tennis ball against a garage door. I can’t recall the rules exactly but if you messed up you had to assume a “frisking” position against the garage door while your pals took turns hurling the tennis ball at your ass.

We used to play at being Explorers, like the voyageurs. Growing up just a few blocks from the wilds of the Mississippi River bottoms had its benefits. We built forts out of railroad ties, and we used to swing on barge ropes that we’d hung from the trees. We explored caves (I broke my collarbone in one), and we fished alot.


All those places have been overrun by “civilization” these days. I have to take my son 30 minutes out of town to get to the same type of wilderness I had five minutes from my house.

Annie Annie Over, or Olly Olly Over – we got most of our games from the Little Rascals or Our Gang comedies.

This one involved tossing a ball over a small building – I think the object was to catch it and then run around the building and tag the tosser.

Something like that anyway.

The outdoor scenes in To Kill A Mockingbird always take me back – did every small town in the 50’s look like that at night? Ours did.

Kick the Can and Ghost in the Graveyard were a couple favorites. Also, Freeze Tag and some odd varient on Statue Maker where I was always made the statue then would pretend to come to life and chase around the neighborhood girls. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

Blessed myself with a house that came up against a forest in the backyard, I also spent thousands of hours roaming the woods eating blackberries, building the occassional fort, finding animal bones and other exploratory missions that an eight year old finds important. I also found out that following the creek led me to the wastewater treatment plant, so my friends and I would sneak around there and pretend we were spies until we’d get caught and yelled at. Such fun days.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

Sigh. More great memories.
The old standbys were Freeze Tag and some really killer games of Hide and Seek. We became little commandos, dressed in dark colors and waiting for dark.
I was blest by living near extensive fields and forest. We played Fort in a small depression in the woods, w/ defenders and attackers. We built up some pretty impressive battlements, too!
The game of Tarzan came to a jolting end when I discovered that the vines growing on trees in southern Ohio weren’t nearly as sturdy as the hemp props used in the movies. I discovered this by giving a truly credible yell, swinging across a ravine on a vine, and then sliding face-first down the side of said ravine when the vine snapped.
My poor parents. I was a regular visitor at the local emergency room as a kid.


Of course Hide-n-seek.

We also played a game called Red Rover.

Sports-related games included wiffle-ball homerun derby, $5.00, and hot-box (baseball related), smear the queer (football related), pig, 21, and around the world (basketball related), 4-square, tetherball, dodgeball, horseshoes, and Jarts.

Hide & Seek and Statue were our neighborhood faves. Statue was always my favorite, but Hide & Seek could get pretty good when we could get all of the neighborhood kids involved. One person trying to find more than 20 others was one heck of a good time!

GEEZ! Kick the can!

Some of you guys are older than me!

I was raised, luckily, in a rural district a few miles outside of my town. There was one other house on the block in a neighborhood sectioned out in dirt roads for development. Most of the roads were ‘abandoned.’ There were lots of wooded lots and empty blocks. There were 17 blocks in all and only about 20 houses. I played in the woods and in the big drainage ditches and in the citrus groves.

We could stay out after dark with no worries and my folks had it easy with me. I’d go out and just take off into the woods for the day. They’d beep the car horn when they wanted me back home to do some insignificant little thing like eat, take a bath, or go to school.

I build forts, climbed trees, made tree houses. When friends showed up we played catch, cowboys and Indians, war, explorers, space games and so on. In the ditch, which was like 25 feet wide and 10 deep, and always shallow with clean water (not anymore) we made dams, played with model ships or carved ‘schooners’ out of dried palm tree branches, using sticks and leafs for masts and sails and sailed them away on the ‘river of now return.’ (I saw the movie and that song has stuck with me forever as a nostalgic favorite.)

Mostly we explored and had day camps or camped out. Because I lived in the woods, mostly my friends liked to visit me because they lived in the local city or in developments. We used to take crumbly chunks of sun baked sand and have dirt bomb wars. (When they hit, the hard sand ‘blew up’ like a bomb. We got REALLY dirty at times.)

Inside we played checkers, Battleship, Monopoly, rummy, or, BEST OF ALL, read about a million comic books. We even had pickup stix, Clue and some other board games.

My Mom would get a huge watermelon from a truck dealer. (About a buck for a HUGE SWEET one.) Dump it in this big old, galvanized wash tub, my Dad would go get ice and cover it, dump in about a dozen Nehi flavored sodas and let it set for a couple of hours on a hot summer day. Then, we’d all go out under the big old Oak tree in the front lawn, friends included and have an afternoon treat of ICE COLD watermelon and Nehi soda. (NOTHING before or since has tasted better on a HOT Florida summer day than a NEHI, with a NON-screw off bottle top, fished out of the freezing water under a pile of crushed ice at the bottom of a galvanized tub or cooler. Soda switching to plastic bottles ruined the flavor.) Current $5.00 itty bitty watermelons just are not as sweet or a juicy either. Their seeds don’t spit near as far neither.

You could wang your friend real good off of the side of his head with one of those old, big seeds if you pursed your lips just right. Of course, you got wanged also. Plus, later on, after the rainy season, watermelon vines would pop up from the lawn and if you took care of them, you might get a small melon or two.

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”

I forgot.

We played capture the flag, tag and stuff like that. Plus Batman and Robin, with our big tired bikes as out ‘batcars’ and a huge washout along the dirt road into the ditch was out ‘bat cave.’ [It got a little hairy going in because jamming on the bike brakes - no handlebar wheel brakes then - locked up the rear wheel. The soft dirt kinda skidded you along and would dump you in the bottom of the ditch into the shallow water. We learned to lay our bikes down sideways after a few detours into the water.]

I had a friend who, once when we were watching with interest a nearby road being tarred – and they used this HOT STINKY liquid stuff – picked up a small glob of the shiny, soft tar, popped it in his mouth and chewed it like gum. he said it was good. I thought he was nuts and refused to try it. He also liked to chew pine tree sap and I never tried that either. You know, the semisolid, solidified globs that pop up from an injury to the bark.

We ate wild raspberries, enjoyed swamp cabbage (the heart of a palm tree) fox grapes, tender Palmetto stems, sweet grass stems, oranges and grapefruits. We swam in fresh water lakes without fear or the ever present alligator because back then, they were being killed nearly into oblivion. (Something I didn’t mind at all and still don’t. The buggers are all teeth, appetite and no damn brains and they CAN’T be tamed.) We shot bottles and tin cans with BB guns, played with Tonka trucks in secluded, shady sugar sand patches out in the woods and could leave our toys there for days without anyone snatching them.

The old neighborhood now is completely developed and the great ditch is dirty, trash cluttered and dangerous looking. Kids don’t stay out after dark anymore and they don’t wander off alone like I used to. All of my forts are gone along with most of the trees I used to climb and the dirt road is paved over. There’s no place to day camp in safety and forget about night camping. The Bat Cave has been filled in and alligators lurk in damn near every blasted puddle in the state. You don’t leave toys out in the pathetic woods overnight anymore if you want them. You can’t even cut down a palm tree for swamp cabbage because that is illegal. An endangered species - HOWEVER if you buy land full of those trees, you can plow them under to build a house and let the sweet, tender pale green cabbage rot in a stump dump.

“Think of it as Evolution in action.”