Monday, December 07, 2009

When we still pushed a hoop with a stick

When I was a child I still pushed a hoop with a stick. Hoops, better, bicycle rims from old bicycles were toys we were able to afford. The other day, I heard someone say something like "you act as if you only know how to push a hoop with a stick." The implication was that the days when people were still pushing hoops with sticks were really primitive days. Yes, I lived in those primitive days. We children did not have Transformers, those morphing toys that all the children seem to have to possess to somehow stimulate more of their imagination. We also didn't have computers. There was no television. The information we got came from a radio made before the beginning of World War II, and we listened to the Voice of America.

The Voice of America was our window to the world, and we loved anything American. Never having had an orange or any other tropical fruit, I accepted a black banana peel to have a taste of what it was. We were deprived, but we didn't know it. We were full of curiosity, and we had the world in front of us and we were not afraid.

Anyhow, we pushed hoops with sticks, and we were glad to have those. The days were filled with laughter, and joy and tears and crying when one of us scraped a knee or stubbed a toe with our bare feet. In those days the street was ours. We used it because the asphalt surface was nice and flat, and we laid pennies on the streetcar tracks to watch them get flattened. It was a carefree time. We had a minimum of supervision and we had to learn from our mistakes, and yes, I watched a large German Shepherd dog get run over by the streetcar. We learned to be careful. I watched a neighbor's dog named Toad run along the side of cars coming by at moderate speed. The dog furiously darted about, attacking the car as if it was a disobedient sheep barking at it while trying to bite its tires.

Those were simpler days where an organ-grinder played his tunes and a scissor-sharpener pushed his cart going from house to house, and we teased the old lady across the street who promptly threatened us with her great big iron grass shears saying she would cut off our ears if we didn't stop that. Of course she was not serious.

Did we live primitive lives. Yes, we pushed a hoop with a stick. But we truly knew things from our own experience. We knew how to push a real hoop with a real stick. We did not play vicarious games on the computer. We knew the reality of death from the war. We saw a dog die. But we also knew how to play, and we knew how to push a hoop with a stick.


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