When I was a little girl, there were so many things to do, but not when the weather was bad. If the day was nice, we were out in the yard playing, like all the kids where we lived. We didn’t have a television until I was five, so that was never an option. The only phone we had was an old black rotary that was a party line. Although always forbidden, you could lift the phone and listen to someone else’s conversation, but if you breathed or giggled, you would get yelled at and would have to just ease it down.
We did the usual, played with dolls or paper dolls. When we didn’t have any we cut out paper dolls from the newspaper or catalogs, colored pages in our coloring books, and argued over everything. Mother would stop and make the newspaper dolls whenever someone tore the others. She just fan pleated the sheet , went snip, snip and opened it out to girls or boys holding hands. Then we would color on some clothes with our crayons. No matter how hard we tried to cut them out, they never came out as perfect.
Sometimes we would play jack rocks. These worked great on the tile floor or outside on the porch. You had to bounce the ball and pick up a jack, then catch the ball until you had all ten in your hand. Next time pick them up by twos, then threes, etc. Think eight’s were usually my limit, before one or more of the jacks would leak out of my hand.
Boys never played jacks or dolls. But we always wanted to play marbles and they would never let us. They were no fun inside. Even on a smooth made bed, marbles didn’t roll right, not like outside in the dirt.
Then as now, my favorite thing was books. When I was little it was looking at the pictures and being read to. We didn’t have a lot of money and my parents felt toys were foolishness. We were always making things to play with and the toys or books you got at Christmas were special.
At school, I was so excited to learn to read. It was from the Dick and Jane series, with little Sally and Spot along for mischief. Can’t remember the cats name, but remember Miss Kelso holding an index card to cover all but one line while you read out, “See Spot Run. Run Spot Run,” and variations of the same. I can remember having enough money saved and the thrill of buying my first book.
But the real magic came when I was old enough to walk up to town, about a mile, with my sisters. They would go to the dime store or drug store to spend their ten cents, but I always went to the library. It wasn’t a grand place, there was a gym in one half of the building and you could always hear someone bouncing a ball as they dribbled up and down the court. Can’t remember anyone yelling or carrying on, just the slap, slap of that ball and the stale smell that filtered into the room with its walls of shelves and books. My goal was to have my name on the card of every book in that room. But unlike this card, in ours, only the librarian stamped the date and wrote your name down.