senior scribes

Along Life’s Way
Life Lesson: Play in the 30’s
by Lois E. Wilson
How did children amuse themselves before TV and video games? An only child, I grew up during the Great Depression. My parents struggled to keep their heads above rising financial challenges. They had low-paying jobs but still found their income and outgo ends didn’t meet. The S & L repossessed our home which was almost paid off. My mother always believed it took those homes first and never trusted that S & L the rest of her life.
Children of that period had to be creative when it came to play. Out of the baby rattle days, I was lucky if a cousin gave me a hand-me-down toy, and I certainly treasured it. My parents rarely splurged to buy me something new from the Five & Dime store. I remember a yo-yo, a bolo bat, and a game of Pick-Up Sticks. It meant a lot to me for I still have it today in its soiled and battered cylinder container. Monopoly and other board games existed, but they were too expensive for our budget. I did have an Old Maid card game and a regular deck of cards to use in my own way.
Outdoor play required no special equipment. There were the games of hopscotch, tag, hide and seek, and kick the can. Open the folding doors of our garage and the inside could be a pretend school, a store, a doctor’s office, or a stage for childhood performances which sometimes were presented to the neighborhood. We roller-skated and attached the same skates to orange crates and made scooters. We played superheroes with towel capes. Since my name was Lois Elaine, I was Superman’s girlfriend, Lois Lane.
I pinched hollyhock blossoms off the stalk and turned them upside down. Each made a perfect colorful skirt for a bridesmaid doll. Then toothpicks were used to attach a hollyhock bud for a head and to make arms. Of course, a white blossom became the bride. The groom was made of buds and toothpicks. We would act out a wedding ceremony with the dolls.
As family finances grew more secure, Dad bought me a secondhand bicycle. I was thrilled. One Christmas Santa left a Snow White doll. I used a box for her bed. Boxes were repurposed many ways in those days. For example, they became doll houses, toy car garages, and animals. I’d hang blankets between two chairs to make a tent to play under. Paper dolls were a favorite playtime activity for me. After I learned to sew, I made a small quilt for my doll. Barbie wasn’t on the scene yet, but there was a fashion doll that stood upon a small platform. My parents saw my interest and purchased one for me. I designed and made clothes for her pretend activities. Inside or outside the house, children found or invented ways to play.
As you’ve heard, the Lord will provide. Growth of mind and body doesn’t always come from monetary riches. It is often hardship that brings out the best in people. Compassion, creativity, and contentment multiply as we solve challenges. These are riches we should seek. Our children need opportunities to experience the inner rewards that arise from overcoming adversity. It is a life lesson—well practiced and well learned.

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