Before electronic games and cable TV, we played make-believe, with or without actual toys. I climbed trees and played Pocahontas. I made bows and arrows out of tree branches from our Christmas tree whittled with mom’s kitchen knives. By Christmas Day our tree looked like Charlie Brown’s and the knives couldn’t cut butter; but sacrifices have to be made for creativity, right?
Most of my real toys were hand me downs anyway. I can only recall one toy that I got new, a knock-off Barbie.
She was 4’2” in Barbie height and had a pull string voice box that was supposed to sound cheery: “Come over to my house and play.” Unfortunately, it was broken from day one and sounded like a demon whose message was clearly: “come over so I can kill you.”
I didn’t have any Barbie clothes either. I think she came in an outfit, but it got lost, so she was naked most of the time. I tried to make a sarong out of Kleenex with limited success. I also made a maxi pad bed with a tampon for the pillow. Pretty resourceful for a kid who didn’t even know what that stuff was!
I inherited a lot of my ingenuity from my older siblings. When my oldest brother realized he was the leader of a gang, (there were six kids which under loitering laws constitutes a gang), he would devise elaborate missions for us to undertake in our war games. Sometimes it was fun, like the time we dug a “foxhole” in Grandmother’s back yard, which caved in on us when it started raining.
Other times it was NOT fun, like playing Army with him as the General while the rest of us were Privates that had to scrub the floor with our toothbrushes. No wonder I had cavities!
My mom will vouch for the most insane stunt. One night our parents left us home with our housekeeper (the brief time we had one growing up). What most likely started as a food fight, became a full on floor party ,when we poured an entire pot of spaghetti sauce on the tile floor and went sliding in it! Our housekeeper, who was a saint, cleaned up everything and by some miracle convinced our dad not to punish us for the incident. Maybe he took pity on us because he knew what I’m now realizing: