Sunday, May 27, 2012

Family Games - Week 20 of 2012 games...Monopoly, Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers, Chutes and Ladders....card games...War, Solitare, Old Maid, Hearts, Pinocle, Euchre, "Spoons"....old time favorites like "Hide the Button," I Spy, Hangman and Tic Tac Toe.  There must be in infinite number of activities that would be classified as "games."  These are some examples of indoor games.

Then there are outdoor games....Hopscotch, Croquet, Ball and Jacks, JumpRope and Hide 'n Seek...or Touch the Porch, as it was called in our neighborhood in Romeo, Michigan.  Whatever was the game of the day, it was embraced with total concentration and an intensity that occupied hours.  Eventually, someone would either get bored, mad or both...and the game would be over.  Sometimes it was hours of Monopoly at the kitchen table in the Trombley kitchen on Ivy Drive.  With Monopoly, those waiting in the wings for their turn, had to have patience!  It was a long wait.  Sometimes it was Parcheesi or Sorry on the Smith's front porch with "takers on" lining up for their turn to dethrone the champ.  The same happened outside with Croquet, Horseshoes, even Hopscotch.  All in all, kids were busy playing, learning how to be good winners and losers, and not depending on any technology to do it!

It wasn't that we Smith's were were part of life!  I think a prime example of this was how there were games almost everyday, at every gathering....home, school, church!  When I first heard the week 20 topic, games to me immediately brought the favorite church games to mind.  My all time favorite was always the "String Game."  A group of people...all ages...formed a circle and had a circle of string large enough for everyone to hang onto.  On the string was someone's ring.  Each  person playing would hang on to the string and made a back and forth motion with their hands, moving the ring around the circle.  The person that was "IT" had to stand in the middle and figure out who had the ring.  Sound silly?  Maybe it was, but it was the game of choice at the United Methodist Church in Romeo.  We also passed life savers from person to person using a toothpick between the teeth.  We passed oranges from person to person....but you had to hold the orange under your chin and place it under the chin of the next person in line.

We did sack races, three legged races, wheelbarrow races (instead of running the bases after you hit the ball, you got in a wheelbarrow and someone ran you to the base) and hunted for treasures in a huge pile of sawdust and wood shavings.

Most of the time it was for nickles, dimes and pennies.  Occasionally, there might be a quarter as the big prize.  Ping Pong was also the game of choice at church...until some of the boys were start slamming the balls with such force that they would end up across Fellowship Hall.  Eventually, there would be no more balls...and the game was done.

I was always able to enjoy the experience and didn't compete because I HAD to win.  But sometimes there was someone that had a difficult time if they didn't come out on top.  I remember discussions with Mom and Dad about being a gracious winner AND loser.  I remember stories from Mom and Dad about their games growing up...simpler versions of what we had, with nothing purchased.  They made games out of common household items....sock bean bags, buttons, and toothpicks.  Rock, Paper, Scissors was a regular, with no materials needed.  I SPY only needed your eyes!  Card games were often part of any gathering, with several tables of players participating.

Proof of the Smith's long line of "gamesters," however, came to light this morning when I remembered some books that I inherited just by osmosis...they ended up at my house somehow.  It is obvious that not only my Dad, but his Dad before him, found "games" and fun an important part of life.  There are several game and party planning manuals that I know were from Harold and Leah's early marriage days when they were involved with young couples and singles from the Methodist Church in Lapeer.  There is a wooden cover/back binder that was from Dad's days of Scout Leader in the Boy Scouts of America.  But the very best of all is the 1009 page "The Fun Encyclopedia...An All Purpose Plan Book for Those Interested in Recreation for Clubs, Schools, Churches and the Home."  On the inside cover is further proof....original signatures from both Grandma Lillian Smith in her neat, cursive writing (Rev. & Mrs. E A Smith), Grandpa Everett's larger, slant cursive ( E A Smith) and then the backhand combination of cursive and print from my Dad, Harold (Harold A Smith)...this time is is pretty legible.  Sometimes, it was not!  Dad's penmanship usually left much to be desired.  But this time, the signatures say it is supposed to be fun!  How blessed we Smith's are to know that!

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