Times Past: In the School Playground

Another post following Irene Waters suggestion, this time it’s about school playgrounds.

I’m a Baby Boomer brought up in an Australian capital city.

I attended the local public school and our “playground” was asphalt but there was also a grassed oval and another area where older girls played softball. The school was near the beach and the bases were simply depressions in the sand. Only the older boys went onto the Oval  during school time.

On the asphalt area we played:

Fairies and Witches, Hopscotch, Chasey, What’s the Time Mr Wolf?, Red Rover All Over etc

Skipping – long ropes for group skipping and short ropes for individuals. A group skipping game I remember went with the chant, “Old Mother Wishy Washy fell down the well. How far did she fall?” The pace was normal to start with but at the end of the chant it became “pepper” ie very fast. However many skips you managed at the fast pace was how far the washerwoman fell.

Marbles -this was really a boys’ game but I loved playing, I probably only played after school

Knuckle Bones – not plastic ones but actual sheep knuckle bones saved from the Sunday roast.

Monkey Bars – I can’t recall where these were so maybe they were actually in community playgrounds but I remember the blisters on my hands

YoYos – Mine wasn’t very fancy but some kids had genuine Coca Cola ones. Yoyos were something that became a fad for a while then disappeared again.

The “Playground” ie asphalt was also where we had to line up in our class groups at the end of lunch before marching into our rooms to the music from the Fife and Drum Band.

Once a week we also lined up in classes for the “Oath of Allegience” or whatever it was … “I am an Australian, I love my country, I honour her queen, I salute her flag, I promise to obey her laws”… and the singing of the National Anthem.

Before I was old enough to go to school, doing a lap around the asphalt for the “Best Decorated Bike” contest at the School Fair.

 

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12 thoughts on “Times Past: In the School Playground

  1. You have such a good memory. I don’t remember the song but I do recall that we increased the speed of the rope. I used to love knuckles, provided also from my grandmother’s roast, and tried to interest my nephews into playing the last time they visited. I was thrilled I could still do all the steps. They on the other hand lasted a second then went off to play with their computers. Asphalt was such a dreary surface. I don’t think they use it any more. You look gorgeous on your bike. Love the spokes. Thanks for joining in.

    • I’m not sure that my memory is particularly good, I forgot that netball courts were marked out on the asphalt. I think I have selective memory, I didn’t enjoy netball 🙂
      A few years ago I worked with a group of children playing “old games” like Knucklebones, Fiddlesticks, marbles and spinning tops, they thoroughly enjoyed the games but showed no inclination to play them in their own free time.
      I think probably asphalt as a playing surface is an OHSW no-no, it’s all soft surface now in case the kids fall.

      • Did you ever play the pencil and paper game of dots and boxes? I think there are probably a few indoor games like that we used to play. Noughts and Crosses, Battleships and Hangman.

      • Yes we played all that you mentioned above. My favourite car game was dictionary where you picked a word out of the dictionary and made up a definition for it. Everyone else had to either agree with you or not. If not they had to make up their own definition. If they got it right they took the dictionary. I think it came out later as a boxed game but I don’t know what it was called.

  2. Pingback: In the School Playground: Times Past | Reflections and Nightmares- Irene A Waters (writer and memoirist)

  3. I was never well enough as a child to play in the playground so mostly sat with a friend and talked… (I was a serious and shy little girl), but my sister had a ‘champion yoyo’ which she’d let me use – and which I now have – and when I was not too bad I played with a hoola hoop. Did you have one? I always played with marbles but, again, not the way other kids did, mostly I pretended they were small people and talked to them! I must have been such a strange child!

    • Hula Hoops were another thing that came and went, I did manage to get the hoop spinning along my arm and then transferred to the other arm. Also around the neck and waist but I don’t recall being successful at getting it to travel up. The hoops were just plain cane, no fancy coloured plastic ones or ones with flashing lights.
      My grand-daughter who’s four now has always held odd things and given them personalities. I watched her for ages with small bathroom tiles putting the various characters through different scenarios. I’d never describe her as shy though.

      • Wow! Sounds like you did well with the hoops. Ones that were used by kids in school were, from what I remember, plane wood or cane. Both my sister and I had our own hoops, both plastic as it was late 50s by then I think, but I kept borrowing hers as mine was useless. Somewhere I have a couple of blurry photos of myself with her hoop in full ‘swivel (probably why they’re blurry though my dad mostly took blurry pics!) Love that your grand-daughter gives tiles personalities! I did it with nearly everything.

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