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SPOTLIGHT
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Happy childhood memories spent in good company

Published on -8/21/2013, 11:42 AM

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2Those are words that bring back many happy memories. When I was young, we usually would hear the dog bark or see the cars of friends or relatives pulling into our driveway on the farm.

That gave us about one minute to pick up the newspaper, put on our shoes, comb our hair, etc., before the company would knock on the door. Obviously, this was before we had telephones to call ahead to make plans with the people who wanted to visit. Company was always a welcome surprise.

What wonderful times we all had. The parents would visit, while we kids usually would run and play. If it was summer, we played outdoors. We got plenty of exercise playing outdoor games, such as hide and seek, tag, kick the can, marbles, and other such games. Sometimes my brothers and the other fellows played basketball. Our basketball court was dirt, and the goal attached to the shed was a steel rim with no net.

We girls took turns swinging. The swing was a rope with a wood seat that hung between two posts that looked like utility poles. It wasn't pretty, but it worked.

If it was winter and there was snow on the ground, we would create big sliced pie paths in the snow with a circle in the middle. This was like playing tag, but you had to stay within the pie lines and try to make it to the center of the pie to be safe. If you got caught, it was your turn to chase the others around the pie.

If we stayed indoors, we played jacks or card games -- such as old maid, rummy, pinochle, canasta and liar. Other games we played were pick up sticks or board games, such as checkers, Chinese checkers and Monopoly.

I was trying to remember the different kinds of jacks we played. Of course, we started with the regular jacks, which started with picking up one jack at a time, then two at a time, up to 10 at a time and catching the ball at the same time.

The game gets progressively more difficult as you play: You throw the ball up and don't let the ball bounce while you are picking up jacks, or you let the ball bounce twice while you are picking up the jacks. I recall also playing jacks where you had one hand cupped on the table and you would push the jacks into that hand and grab the ball with the other hand. Another jack game was where you cupped your hand on the table, but you tossed the jacks over your hand.

It seems like these last two games were called pigs in the pen and pigs over the pen. Of course, if you missed picking up the correct number of jacks or didn't catch the ball, it was the other person's turn to start play where they left off at their previous turn. Ah, what fun we had.

Sometimes we were the company. When we visited my parents' friends or relatives, we kids played similar games as we did at our house, while the adults visited. I really enjoyed going to visit my grandpa and grandma Pfeifer on Christmas. Most of the Pfeifer families came for the holidays. My grandpa was a good pinochle player, so there was usually a pinochle game going on when we were there. It seems that quite often the weather was nice, and we cousins would go outside and play baseball or other outdoor games.

Then before we would go home, Grandma had us come into the house and eat a meat sandwich made with a homemade pickle and bun. I believe I never have tasted a better sandwich up to this day than those made by my grandma.

Sometimes we visited Grandma Befort in Munjor. She always had sweets or something for us to snack on. Happy memories were made on such days.

At one relative's house, our parents would visit on the main level of the house, while we kids stayed in the basement and played games or read comic books. One thing I enjoyed was trading comic books. If the cousins were done reading certain comic books, and if I had comic books they hadn't read, we would exchange those. Some of my favorite comic books were "Little Lulu" and "Little Audrey." Comic books sold for 5 or 10 cents in my good old days, so we could afford to buy a few.

Getting company is still a pleasant pastime. The only difference today is we usually call ahead of time to be sure those we want to visit are home. While my husband and I visit with friends or relatives, we often play pinochle or dominoes, have a beverage and munch on snacks.

Knock, knock. Who's there? Company! Well, come on in, sit yourself down. Let the chat time begin.

Alberta Klaus is a contributor to The Hays Daily News

Generations advisory group.

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