Sunday, January 3, 2016

For everything there is a season

........and for activities in the school year, that is definitely the case.  First though, I will mention how we occupied ourselves on Vancouver Island during  the war years.  At school the games I can recall in the early 1940s were tag, hopscotch and skipping.  For Christmas one year I received a game of Snakes and Ladders.  For the girls, cutouts were popular, a cutout doll came with a wide variety of paper clothes that we could cut out and attach with little tabs.  This was a popular activity for me during my pre-teen years with many leisurely hours spent with my friends outfitting  the paper dolls in their beautiful outfits in the same way as the next generation dressed their Barbie dolls.  

At home in Cordova Bay  I loved hopscotch and  remember drawing a game  outline in the rough tar/gravel on the street beside our house.  I spenhours alone hopping back and forth as I was the only girl on our block and hopscotch was not an activity that interested the boys.  

Albert School, Saskatoon

I liked going to the beach which was only a five minute walk away but it was cold and windy in the winter so staying inside near the fireplace was much cosier. Our family of four and later five when my second brother was born lived in a small one bedroom cottage, probably no more than 500 square feet plus an enclosed front porch which was mainly used in the summer.  Evenings were often spent listening to old time radio programs like Fibber McGee and Molly, Boston Blackie, The Shadow, Our Miss Brooks and The Great Gildersleeve.  The massive stone fireplace in the living room and black wood burning cooking stove in the kitchen were our only  sources of heat so keeping a supply of chopped wood on hand was always a challenge for my parents.  It must have been difficult for my mother when my father was posted to Alaska for eight months and she was on her own in the small cottage with three young children.

Anyway, on to the games and the seasons.  Once the war was over and we were living in Saskatoon I quickly learned that there was a season for everything.  In the spring as the final snow was melting away, as if by magic everyone brought their marbles to school and the competition during recess was fierce.  The girls played "Pig in the Hole" and the boys played "Rings".  In the game of rings a large circle was drawn and each player put a marble in the centre, then took turns with their shooter marble  to hit the centre marbles out.  They would keep any marbles that they could knock out the ring.  There was a whole vocabulary that went with the game, evers, fan evers, hunching etc.  Some marbles were big and called boulders, ball bearing type marbles were called steelies and clear marbles with an interior design were cat's eyes and were quite desirable. In the game of Rings  boys had a favourite shooter marble.   Then, when the school year ended the marbles disappeared as fast as they had appeared and would be gone until the following spring.  In their place  the yo-yo guy would appear next to the neighbourhood drug store across the street from Albert School.  He was a hot shot with yo-yos and would hold competitions to see who was the local champion.  Of course this promotion helped sell  lots of yo-yos and we all practised walking the dog and around the world with the hope that we would win a prize.  The activities of each season were very explicit, no one would ever bring marbles to school outside of marble season.  When the weather warmed up the girls played a ball game called Sevensies in which a rubber ball was thrown against a wall with a routine of seven steps, hitting the wall, letting it bounce etc.  India rubber balls were best but were harder to come by because of the cost.  Skipping and eventually double dutch skipping with two ropes was popular and a skill most girls mastered at a young age.  I took figure skating lessons at the Saskatoon Arena for a couple of years and became involved in the Girl Guide movement, first as a Brownie and later as a Girl Guide.  The Guides in those days were more militaristic and disciplined during the post war years, but fun to be part of with your friends.  During the summer the Avenue H swimming pool was the place to go.  Bus fare was five cents but if Ford's drug store with their soft ice cream was too  tempting, you sometimes succumbed to ice cream and took the hour long walk home to Nutana instead.  Later on another store popped up near there and was selling deep fried thin slices of potatoes, really good and something quite new.  Said they were called potato chips.  By the time I was in grade six I had my first bicycle, a second hand boy's bicycle but it gave me a whole new way to explore the city.  It was easy to go downtown but  was always a challenge whether to return home from  via the gentle slope of the Broadway bridge or go across the Traffic bridge and try to ride up the short hill without stopping - decisions, decisions.  Once I hit my teens I started babysitting and with my 25 cents an hour earnings, I managed to buy a girl's bicycle.  We moved to a bigger house on Main Street and in the fall of 1950 I had finished grade 8 and was off to high school.