Archive for Thursday, April 28, 2005

Childhood games bring back memories

Electronic gadgetry undermines kids’ creativity

April 28, 2005

My favorite toys I had as a kid were water pistols in the form of superheroes. Giant Robot and Ultraman were my two favorite water pistols. Most of my friends had a superhero water pistol, and we used to chase each other with it and "shoot" at each other.

Aside from that, we had to create, and or make up, our own games. We didn't have the luxury the kids have today like the Game Cube, Playstations or X-Box. I marveled at the creativity kids had back then and would like to share some of those games with you.

The most popular game we played was called "Roundus." This game is very similar to baseball, except it's played with a tennis ball and a two-by-four or any wood that could function as a bat. The ball was "pitched" by rolling it to the batter and the object was to hit it and run around the bases without getting an out or getting hit by the ball. There were no positions except for the batter and the pitcher. This game had to be played on the streets so the ball could be rolled on the ground to the batter.

"Chopping" was a painful, but fun sport. It is like dodge ball except we used tennis balls to throw and hit one another. The game started by the person with the ball giving a short count and then chasing the other kids around trying to hit them. No holds barred. When someone got hit, they then chased around to "chop" another kid. There were no winners or losers in this game. By the time the game was over, most kids had bruises all over their bodies. This game was not for the weak of heart.

"Kunchi Kunta" is one of the strangest games we played. This had to be played on a softer surface. We dug a hole about 3 inches deep, 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. We needed a thin branch about 6 inches long and another about a foot-and-a-half.

To start the game, a team placed the smaller branch across the hole and then used a longer branch to flick the small branch as far as possible. The other team then tossed the branch from where it landed to the person who flicked it. That person hit the branch as far as possible. We then measured the distance from where it landed back to the hole using the length of the stick. The length of measure was the score. The team that had the most number of "measures" and the end of a pre-determined number of rounds won. It was a confusing game, but if you played it, you would be hooked.

Of course there was also the game of marbles. The kind of marbles we had were fascinating. We had lime, glass and even iron-cast marbles. I was never good at this game, but I had a nice collection of marbles.

My favorite game, however, was a game of cards that didn't have a name. The cards were like baseball cards, and they had pictures of Japanese cartoon characters on one side and were blank on the other side. The object of the game was to win over as many cards from your friend's hand as possible. This was done by holding a card in your palm, and then slapping it against the card in the palm of your friend and letting it fall to the ground. The card that landed face up won and the winner took possession of the losing card. We would blow on the card, curl it, and rub it to give it extra "power." Some of us even resorted to unscrupulous tactics by gluing two similar cards back to back so it was two faced. This usually worked with younger kids.

Looking back, I realize we were not deprived of the electronic diversions that kids have now. It forced us out of the house to mingle with our neighbors and be creative. Those games had some basic rules, but most often, rules were added or changed to accommodate the group that was playing. That always made for some rousing confrontations. But it also provided for some much needed character development and lasting friendships that some kids today, buried in their EA Sports, fail to develop.

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