Today, I am introducing a new feature to my blog. I stumbled a while back on a website called The One-Minute Writer. I don’t recall how I found it, but the author provides a daily prompt with the plan that people will spend one minute writing based on the prompt. Now, let’s be serious, I have never in my life written something in only a minute. Anyone who has ever met me, heard of me, seen me walking by on the street, or been in the same crowded arena as me knows that I’m far too long winded to keep any writing down to a minute. However, I am going to use her prompts to give me something to write about in an attempt to always keep something new on my blog for my faithful reader(s). Fair warning, though, since I’m just using her prompts to think of something to write, they will probably rarely be the actual prompt for the day.
So, without further delay, the prompt for today is…
What games do you remember playing as a kid, especially as a group in your neighborhood? These are so specific to each time and location, they are a fun identifier.
This is an interesting one. Be warned, I’m just gonna give a pretty random stream of consciousness and random recollections.
People who know me know that growing up wasn’t the easiest for me. I was the fat kid on the block, and I did everything I could to fit in. I was Bill Cosby’s “one fat kid.” (The key moment is at 1:09, but I’d suggest just listening to the whole thing. It’s only a minute and a half.) Anyway, when I was 7 we moved to the “estate” (as I call it) in an outskirt of an outskirt of an outskirt of Lakeland. I was going to show you the Google satellite image, but all that’s there, now is a field. The house was reclaimed by the state of Florida (or maybe the county – whatever, the government) as flood land – even though the houses never flooded and the drainage pattern and the elevation of both houses nearly guaranteed that they never would. But I digress. Just trust me, the estate was on a big ol’ plot of land and pretty far from any neighbors. Our closest neighbors were the cows and cockroaches.
Before that, we lived in suburbia in Lakeland. I recall that I was friends with a couple neighborhood kids. Sad as it is, the only game I recall playing was hiding in the bushes as a fort. I don’t even remember the point of that particular game. I just remember that we played it. I remember that we had converted the garage into a play room in the house we lived in when we lived in the highlands. We did a lot of creating our own versions of plays and songs and stuff. I actually have a memory of playing with my brand new Nerf football that I got for my birthday in that front yard on moving day.
Then, when I was seven, we moved to a far away country known as Carter’s Corner. Carter’s Corner was on the outskirts of K-Ville, which was on the outskirts of Auburndale, which was on the outskirts of Lakeland. Like I said, it was deep in the boonies. We had two neighbors I recall, one who required a bit of a walk – about half a mile – to visit. I cannot recall the family name of either of them, and the given names of the closer house escapes me, now, too. My parents weren’t too fond of that particular neighbor, so we didn’t actually spend much time together. In the house down the road were Josh and Dan, identical twins who I always greeted with the question, “J or D?” I was late learning to ride a bike; I think I was eight or nine when I finally learned. As a result, I didn’t make it down to their house much. Looking back, I kinda wish that I was more in the habit of walking down there because a habit of a little more outdoor and physical activity would have served me well. Perhaps such a habit would have helped me to avoid being quite as substantial as I now am.
I had one longish term friend in my formative years, Terry Elliot. Terry lived on the next road over off of the main road. It would have been a good 3 or 4 miles to walk there, probably since we each lived at the very end of our respective roads. I went to the same school as Terry and rode the bus with him starting in 3rd grade. Fun fact: we actually both had crushes on the same girl that year, Lisa. He is actually the first friend with whom I remember doing anything resembling specific memories, and that’s been long enough that even those are faded; it’s been almost 30 years! Terry and I spent the night at each others homes on many occasions. When we were at my house, I honestly can’t recall much of what we did. We must have taken advantage of the pool on many occasions. I recall one adventure when we went exploring in the woods behind my house. We were gone for several hours, and we were thoroughly lost by the end of it. We were lucky enough that we came out of the woods to one of the roads we knew in the neighborhood, and we could get back to my house by road to avoid further delay. I’m surprised I don’t recall getting in trouble for that one.
When I visited Terry’s place, I remember exploring in the woods. There was an abandoned shack on the edge of the woods near him. We may or may not have explored that shack, too. Although I know at least one of my readers will likely hold the fact against me, we went hunting with his pellet gun on a few occasions, too. I don’t recall if either of us was a good enough shot to actually hit anything. Once or twice, we ate squirrel over there, but I think his dad got those, not us. We also frequently wrestled when the weather was pleasant. We were both fans of WWF (now, WWE), so we did a combination of real wrestling and fake wrestling moves.
Terry moved with his mother to another part of Lakeland a year or two later, and we saw each other only rarely after that. The last time I recall seeing him was at CDBs (a small and delicious pizza and Italian food chain in Central Florida) where he was working as a cook. By that time, we hadn’t seen each other in years, and I had no idea that he worked there. I ran into him when I was getting dinner on my own quite by accident. We did a little catching up, and we haven’t spoken since.
The only other play that I ever did with others at my house regularly was probably our “fort” of sorts that my brother and I built, tore down, rebuilt differently, tore down again (that list goes on). We had a pile of wooden fence posts behind the barn. I’m sure that my father had bought them for some actual use, but that use never happened. Instead, they became a sort of log-cabin building materials for Peter and me. The most elaborate we ever made the fort had two or three layers of sort-of bunk bed shelves built in. We also put a tarp over the top to serve as a roof. I actually remember sitting out a fairly heavy rainstorm that caught me by surprise one time in that incarnation of the fort.
I think I have gone on long enough, and I can’t recall too much more from those years of my life. If you are still reading, thank you for joining me on this rambling journey down memory lane.