By: Karla Sullivan
(Editor’s Note: Next time your grandchildren tell you they are bored…share this story with them.)
As storms approached for a long weekend of indoor play, you called your neighborhood friends to come over using the single household phone; some families had two. If the line was busy, you could be delayed since call waiting and voicemail were not a luxury. You had to wait or walk. If your telephone line was a party line, you could amuse yourself by listening to stranger conversations but watch out if your Mom or Dad caught you. Imagine that, party lines, of all things, a great option for identity theft. But the best solution to your communication dilemma was to have previously designed the old can and string phone. If your friend lived close and the string was taut, it had better reception than some of the cell phones today.
Once the troops gathered and if you had a basement, you could play Blind Man’s Bluff where you turned down the lights, blindfolded the selected member and the one who was it, chased everyone around the room. But this game was more fun with a lot of people and so was Cowboys and Indians.
Twister came into fashion in later years and is still a big hit at slumber parties. If a girls’ home had a blackboard, playing teacher was always a choice. Younger girls played in their cardboard or metal kitchens making plastic food entrees while ironing with their fake iron and ironing board; we wanted to be just like Mom.
If you were older and competitive, you could play your pinball machine or ping pong if you were lucky to own these. If you didn’t have a basement but a garage, it was a great time to be creative and pull all the garbage left overs from Dad’s workshop. Build the neighborhood scooter that was shared by all or the clubhouse you always wanted.
If space was an issue, then it was time to pull out the trusted board game collection which could take an hour of argument to decide which one you wanted to play. Monopoly and Life could be the most time-consuming while Yahtzee, Clue and Sorry were less complicated and available today for the computer generation. Of course, let’s not forget Probe and Scrabble if you wanted to really show off your intelligence and Operation if you were planning on being a doctor, had a steady hand or just liked to watch the patient’s nose light up while buzzing.
Scrabble has a computer version and if you are still a Scrabble guru, you can actually become a member of the National Scrabble Association that was established in 1978.
As a younger child, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders made a stormy Saturday more appealing; we all wanted to fantasize about hillsides filled with chocolate and being rewarded for our good deeds. If you were a young card shark, then it was Old Maid or Go Fish. Returning champions played Poker, Canasta, Gin Rummy and Pinochle.
If all else failed and the one family TV was available, you could select from 3- 5 channels. If it was Saturday morning, you had a variety of cartoons to choose but Saturday afternoons could be tricky and forget Sunday until noon which was dedicated programming to religious events. Prime television was generally in the evening and reserved as a family event after your friends returned home. But Saturday afternoons could offer corny black and white horror movies such as Attack of The Crab Monsters, Teenagers From Outer Space and I Was A Teenage Werewolf. After adjusting the TV antennas or better known as rabbit ears which could take some time especially if weather was poor and Mom watching over you while you made Jiffy Pop. Ultimately, this was the best stove- top popcorn that you loved to gently slide back and forth over the burner and watch the foil expand to new heights. Finally, you were ready to settle in the den or front room with your favorite group. Jiffy Pop can still be purchased in cases so you will never run out.
Ah, the good old days; sitting, talking and laughing with friends that you could share, hug or punch while sitting in the same room; so much better than texting all weekend long.