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Chuck Brooks' column: Fun the old fashioned way

“Round the Moon. Round the Moon. Who will poke?”

I’m sure it’s my age that’s primarily behind this week’s topic, but if it is, then it is. I’ve been thinking lately, Are kids today going to have great memories tomorrow of these adolescent years?

I was back in my hometown recently during spring break, and I ran into one of my childhood neighbors in an “establishment” where “everyone knows your name.” We sat and reminisced about memories we still hold from our youth. The game, “Round The Moon,” was one of those games. A bunch of us at night (you had to play this after sunset), would gather around a tree. One person volunteered to be the original “it,” and that person leaned face-first against the tree. Then, another kid took his/her index finger and on the back of the person, they made a big circular motion, chanting, “’Round the moon, ‘round the moon, who will poke?” At that time, the person leaning a-gainst the tree turned around and it was his/her task to guess which of us had poked him/ her. If right, the two would switch roles; if not, that person remained the “it” person.

Next, they returned to the face-against-the-tree position while we all scattered like crazy. Our task was to go hide. The person up against the tree was to count to 100 and then begin the search. Our task then changed and when we thought it safe, we were to run to the tree and yell, “Safe!” before the “it” person touched us. When the first one was touched by “it,” the game began anew. We could entertain ourselves for hours playing this. Each and every night.

I remember one night I was hiding while waiting for the person to finish counting. When I thought it was safe to hit the tree, I ran through a backyard and was focused on getting to that tree. Because it was pitch dark, I did not see the low-hanging clothesline in my way. In all my years, I never remember such an out-of-the-blue shock. It caught me by the neck and stopped me from progressing, but my feet kept going until I was lifted off the ground and, what felt like being parallel to the ground in mid-air, I came crashing down, flat on my back, almost able to see the wind leave my lungs. No one saw it happen to me. Retelling it didn’t seem to carry the same effect. I, however, felt fortunate to still have my head attached to my torso.

Do kids play silly games like that in neighborhoods any longer? Or is everyone tweeting, texting, watching YouTube and focusing on all the other possible technology distractions?

We used to do all sorts of silly activities like ‘Round the Moon. I can’t believe I am sharing this with you, but in my neighborhood, we created really silly games. We used to create Bewitched episodes. And we played The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. I know. I know. But we did! And we had fun. Innocent, true-blue fun. And I’m grateful to those friends I had growing up. I have fond memories of my childhood and much of it has to do with those kids. Each Christmas Eve, a couple of my siblings and spouses and myself visit the old neighborhood and a family that was four doors down. The parents are now in their 80s. They had seven kids. Eventually, all those kids with all those spouses and their kids all show up. The house is not that big, so we try to get there early and leave before we’re in the way. However, memories of the neighborhood always return to the conversation table. And we laugh. And we laugh some more.

I know in this neck of the burbs, life feels different than where I grew up. Life has never seemed as simple here as it continues to feel back in my hometown. When I listen to kids talk about their social lives, I wonder if they’ll be able to look back 30 years from now and smile at fond memories they’re unknowingly creating today. I guess it doesn’t really matter to most people in the large scheme of things, but I always feel it’s important. Then again, I suspect I reflect too much on the past. Can’t change the leopard’s spots at this point.

We have reached the month of April, folks. Spring break is but a distant memory and now all sights on summer. Sure would be nice if Mother Nature would hint a little that she remembers what spring weather is supposed to feel like. Looking out my classroom window and seeing white is still depressing. Alas and forsooth. It shan’t be long now, correct?

Yea, verily.