Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Recess Bell

I enjoyed school when I was a kid and I was even a pretty good student, but I have to confess I lived for recess. For me and my friends, there was no more welcome sound than the recess bell. We’d slap our books shut, grab our jackets and troop out to the playground for fifteen minutes of fun. Winter or summer, rain or shine, recess was spent on the playground.

I remember two things about recess. Fifteen minutes seemed like a loooong time, and the games we played changed with the season.

We played marbles in the winter and jump rope in the spring. We had several rhyming songs for Double Dutch, but I’ve long forgotten the words to them. Red Rover and Duck, Duck, Goose were popular. Remember a game called Telephone or Grapevine? A group of children would stand in a row and the first would whisper something into the ear of the next child. The message was passed that way until the last person said what they’d heard out loud—and of course it would have been hilariously altered from the original.

My July release, Firefighter Daddy, was inspired by the William R. DeAvilla school, a block and a half from the Haight-Ashbury intersection in San Francisco.

The school’s paved playground still has numerous painted playground courts, and they’re even visible from Google’s satellite maps! (Click on the marker and zoom in.)

View Larger Map

One of them is a hopscotch court, and it became an important theme in the story. One of my favorite scenes in the book takes place on that playground, where the hero’s seven-year-old daughter teaches him how to play hopscotch. As I wrote that scene, I children today still play games on the playground? I hope so.

What were your favorite childhood games? Did you or will you teach them to your kids? Grandkids?

Happy reading!

Until next time,
The Writer Side of Life
Firefighter Daddy available now!


Anonymous said...

Hi Lee!

Great blog... as usual!

One of my most vivid memories of recess involves tobogganing. Our 'regular' school wasn't near a hill, but one winter, when our school was being renovated, we were temporarily located in a building with a large hill right outside our classroom! (or, rather, it seemed large to us, ha ha) We had great fun that winter—red noses and all!


Lee McKenzie said...

What fun, Joy! Thanks for sharing that!

Estella said...

We played Red Rover, Kickball, Dodgeball, and Hopscotch. My children also went to a country school so learned all of these games there.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

For us it was 4 Square where four of you stood in a square (duh) and bounced a ball to others in the other squares. If you dropped the ball, you were out.

Off to get your book!

Lee McKenzie said...

That's interesting, Estella. I wonder if some games were more popular at country schools. Red Rover and Dodgeball could be kind of rough. Better played on a field than a paved playground, I'm sure.

Lee McKenzie said...

Thank you, Julie! You made my day!

I didn't play four square as a child, but there's a four square court on the playground that inspired this book.

Anita Birt said...

Thanks, Lee for reminding me of those bygone days shooting marbles, skipping double dutch and others. Your book is out!!! I must get down to Chapters before it disappears.

Who remembers penmanship classes?

Gillian Layne said...

Hi Lee! I loved Four Square as well, and Tetherball. Not sure I see a lot of kids playing different games now.

Rachel said...

Oh, hopscotch! And tetherball – the only sport at which I've ever excelled.

Anita, I remember penmanship classes. We needed recess to recover from all those interlined rows of bbbbb…such a complicated letter.

Lee McKenzie said...

LOL, Anita. Penmanship was my worst subject. Still is, I'm afraid.

Lee McKenzie said...

Gillian, whatever kids are doing at recess these days, I hope they're getting exercise and having a chance to use their imagination.

Lee McKenzie said...

Rachel, I'm glad you're still basking in the glow of being a tetherball champ :)