Growing up in a world unlike today

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So many comments have come my way since sharing the childhood adventures of my hubby and his hunting crew. We were born in a wonderful time to be a kid in the country, don’t you think? While many in the 1950s and ‘60s were drawn to take a turn as a wild west cowboy, many of my memories involve ‘playing house,’ my older sisters telling me what to do and say.

Playing house

“Pretend like you are outside sweeping the porch!” I was told. “But I already DID that. I want to be somebody more fun than that,” I protested. My oldest sister answered, “No, you are short and moms get short when they get old, so you have to be the mom sweeping the porch.” I did my fake sweeping for a few more minutes, but then went in search of something a little more challenging. That porch-sweeping mom went on strike!

Jump roping

The most fun thing to do with my girl cousins who lived next door included all sorts of jump rope tricks. We had so many rhymes and silly sayings that we felt as though we were speaking in code. If oldest cousin Kim said, “not last night but the night before….” we all let out a happy shout as if on cue and went in search of the jump ropes.

Once we got the rhythm of the rope going, the chant and the jumping in and out would begin:

Not last night but the night before,
Twenty-four robbers came knocking at my door.
I asked them what they wanted,
And this is what they said:
Spanish Dancer, do the splits,
Spanish Dancer, do the twist.
Spanish Dancer, turn around,
Spanish Dancer, touch the ground.
Spanish Dancer, go out the back,
Spanish Dancer, please come back.
Spanish Dancer, read a book,
Spanish Dancer, do not look.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . . .

The rhymes

We would jump and laugh and moan when a mis-skip brought the whole production to a stop. Some days were pure perfection, a Broadway show complete with all sorts of impressive acting while jumping in and out to the prompts. We jumped til our gizzards ached and we were sure our arms were going to fall off, starting over dozens of times to get it right.

Cousin Connie was the best. While she landed every jump with finesse, even cartwheeling in and out of that blinding fast jump rope, I struggled to get the rhythm and the movement of my feet just right.

I was destined to the non-speaking role of the porch-sweeping mom, I just knew it. So much of our girl world reverie back then revolved way too much around boys, and even the simplest jump rope ditty revealed this, a rhyme that made me blush as it stepped too close to the notion of misbehaving:

Cinderella dressed in yellow
Went upstairs to kiss her fellow.
Made a mistake and kissed a snake,
How many doctors did it take?

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.

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