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My Favorite Childhood Games—Guest Post by JH

Now the election is over it’s time to move on to other things, like Professional Bocce. Oh, there is no professional Bocce. How about some reminiscences of our childhood? It’s free, monetary wise, and supposedly peaceful. So here we go.

My two brothers, our three boy cousins and I wandered about nature, jumped rope, made chopstick rubber band guns and slingshots, and played some universal games such as tag games and hopscotch in the center court of Grandpa’s traditional Chinese farm house. We helped each other learn how to ride a bike. We were awesome simply because we were.

I’ll write about two special pastimes and, indirectly, about how a little sister adored her older brother.

Turtle Go
Turtle Go game  
Each player has an army of 6, and each soldier (or candy) can move to an adjacent node, one step at a time. A soldier is captured when it’s surrounded by the opponents’ soldiers and thus loses mobility. The game is over when there is no way to capture anymore, e.g., you have one soldier left and your opponent has two. The one who arrests more opponents’ soldiers wins.  This game is free, and no-props are required but the players.
My older brother who taught me this game often won at the beginning. Growing up, I always thought he was so much smarter than me, because, unbeknownst to me then, he is three years older. He never refused my request to play, at least not that I can remember, knowing that I wanted to beat him. I was a competitive sister, and he enjoyed winning. When it was apparent to him that I could win half of the time, he decided to teach me the next game and drop this game without ceremony.
Chinese Chess
Almost every elementary school kid was exposed to this game then. How the pieces move about the game board differently fascinated me. Victory laughter ensued when the sneaky elephant seized a piece from two points diagonally. Being able to ambush my older brother was something that I bragged about. My favorite piece was the cannon. Whenever I nabbed an opponent’s piece with a leap above another piece, it pleased me tremendously. I can’t tell you why. Youngsters are funny this way, and I was no different.  

My older brother preferred to play with his friends once he went to 5th grade when boys and girls were separated. In the meantime, my school friends loved the paper doll dress up game. It dawned on then that I was a girl, and that, strangely, fun seemed to have gender too. We were free, I mean, carefree, before we started junior high.  When he stared 7th grade, my childhood seemed to have stopped. No more pastimes as there was no free time to pass. Besides doing homework, we had to study to earn good standing at school, which seems to be a foreign concept to many high school students nowadays.  
Oh, my younger brother was a brat and hasn’t changed a bit. I am still his favorite sister though.

Things have changed, though classic games such as Chess still survive today.

Raising my two daughters has given me a second childhood, the American way. Old Maid gave me a first glance on how my children would handle an undesirable situation, which interestingly reflected their personalities. Priceless. I can go on and on…as many parents can about their children.
My farmer parents were too busy. Unlike my children, my brothers and I were left to entertain ourselves, and were only asked to finish homework and be home for dinner. No, we didn’t live in Chewandswallow where weather comes in the form of food, beverage and deserts.

We were trouble-free. Grandma’s threat of “you’d-be-a-pig-in-next-life-if-naughty,” which seems much less harsh than “you’d-go-to-hell-if-you-do-not-listen,” worked. We couldn’t make mischief because we believed there was no Get-Out-of-Being-A-Pig-Free card.

My brothers and I grew up in the pre-digital, pre-internet, pre-telephone, pre-color TV, pre-flush or early-flush toilet era. No internet, no Facebook, no Game Boy, no Pac-man, no Six Flags, no shopping mall,

We had fun!

Now it’s your turn to tell us your fond childhood memories.  Your favorite TV shows? Speed Racers? What are your children’s favorite pastimes?

Update Picture fixed. Libreoffice often can’t reproduce well graphics produced in Word and Powerpoint. PDF can.

9 thoughts on “My Favorite Childhood Games—Guest Post by JH Leave a comment

  1. I always wanted to learn the rules to Chinese chess. In San Francisco’s and New York’s Chinatowns, you always see clusters of old men playing endless games. The old women seem to play cards more. What game, I wonder?

    Not so sure your grandma’s warning wasn’t dire. You know where bacon comes from, don’t you?

  2. From time to time there is as estimate of how much it takes to raise a child today, and the sums are astronomical. I always wondered how much that number would be reduced if all the electronic gimcracks were eliminated.

  3. I recall ‘kick-the-can’. An empty can is placed in the middle of the road. Somebody kicks it as hard as they can in one direction. Everybody except ‘it’ runs off in the other and hides. ‘It’ fetches the can back and puts it in place. All the other have to get to the can without getting tagged by it.

    Reading that back I realise it was rubbish. We played it endlessly.

  4. Calling someone a pig in Croatian is right up there with implying canine descent in English. At least that’s the impression I got from my grandmother.

    When I was growing up, board and card games were mostly played in-family and almost never with outsiders. My father taught me chess when I was six and quit playing when I started winning.

  5. Locally in the Lehigh Valley was the Game of Quoits (kwates). These were hard-rubber rings thrown at a stake set on a slate board tilted at an angle. Rules somewhat as horseshoes, except quoits could bounce and roll and knock other quoits off the board.

  6. What a coincidence. After many years, I’m getting back into Go (Japanese name, “Weiqi” in Chinese, and “Baduk” in Korean). Go is perhaps the ultimate board game, with simpler rules than Chess, and a larger scale. Computers can beat the best Chess players, but not the best Go players.

    The Turtle Go game looks like a very young child’s version of Go, in some sense.

  7. We girls played hopscotch on a huge board we drew in the street with chalk. Each box was about 2 ft by 2 ft…so we had to devise our own rules to augment jumping thru the board. That kept is occupied for hours. We would also play marathon sessions of Monopoly, Life, and various card games. And one we made up called Running Bases, which was kind of like tag, but you were confined to a certain area we outlined in chalk (again, in the street), there were two people who could tag you out, a ball was involved, there were two bases. I teach 4th grade now and teach this game to kids. A basketball court is the perfect ‘field’ for The game. The kids like it!