Back tracks: I’m so bored …
Growing up, I can’t remember ever uttering those three words, “I’m so bored.” And even if kids might feel bored back then, it certainly wouldn’t be up to our parents to get us “un-bored.” No siree – it would be up to us kids to find something to do, for ourselves.
Like most children growing up in the fifties and sixties, my imaginative mind worked overtime, so it really wasn’t hard to find interesting things to do. Even with no video games, cell phones, television, or computers to be seen.
And if you were fortunate enough to live anywhere near water, your exciting activities would be endless.
I happened to grow up near tons of little ponds and “cricks.” There was a small pond across the back tracks where I could watch what seemed to be hundreds of tiny black tadpoles swim. Then, when they turned into frogs and they heard me coming, I would hear them “plop, plop, plop” as they splashed back into the water.
My brother or sister and I would race sticks through the big culvert water pipe under the road near our house. We would drop our sticks into the crick on one side, and then run across the road to the other side to see whose stick came through the pipe first. Then we’d grab two more sticks, and repeat.
Things were pretty darn simple.
Of course, with water nearby you could always build dams, jump cricks, or dig up some worms and try your luck at fishing.
For boys in the 1960s, building go-carts was big. First they had to find some discarded wheels from a push-lawn mower or an old metal wagon. Then a wooden crate was added to sit in, and a broom handle for a steering wheel. Find a hill, and down they would fly – often crashing when the wheels fell off, because they were just fastened on with bent nails.
School playgrounds were a great place for kids to have fun. After school hours or during the summer, we played on “dangerous” equipment that is now long-outlawed. Like tall metal swings where you could fly so high; and even go higher when you stood up on the seat, and pumped like crazy.
Or the merry-go-round, with the wooden seat around it, that seemed to go 100 miles per hour. Four people would be in the middle section, pushing like crazy. And then, when they couldn’t run round and round any faster without falling, they would hop up on the metal railings in the middle section, and enjoy the wild ride, too.
We would sail down high metal sliding boards, made faster with a quick scrubbing of wax paper. We would laugh alternately in horror, and then in glee, while hanging on the round metal maypole, where you would get flung off your feet as it went round and round, once you actually got it going.
There were lots of broken arms from that piece of equipment.
If no one else was around, you still weren’t bored because there were so many things you could do by yourself to occupy your time. Like paper dolls. Or picking blackberries in shorts, and getting crisscrossed red jagger marks all over your legs. Or playing the card game Solitaire. Or jumping rope. Or throwing a baseball up on the shed roof, and then catching it when it came back down.
Remember playing hop scotch? With just squares drawn on blacktop with chalk, and a flat stone, you could hop around on one leg for hours on end.
I remember maneuvering skillfully around those squares as a child. So, when writing this article, I thought I would see if I could still hop on one leg. To my chagrin, my leg would produce not even one “hop.”
Oh well, who needs to hop when there are flowers and gardens to tend, a friend to call, books to read, Candy Crush to play, wood to cut, plays to attend, bus trips to take, a recipe to try, or volunteer work to do.
There never seems to be enough time in a day to get everything done. Although to be truthful, we also sometimes approach life a lot like the words Kenny Loggins wrote in his song, “Return to Pooh Corner.”
“You’d be surprised there’s so much to be done; count all the bees in the hive; chase all the clouds from the sky.”
Even though most of us baby-boomers are retired by now, when there’s nothing that needs to be done, we still manage to manufacture something. I think children who grew up in the 1960s STILL never get bored. We’ve just moved on to other things.
Rose Hoover is a freelance writer for The Express. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org