Play Outside

It was either in January or February of 1965 that a blizzard deposited a very tall snowdrift in front of our house in Lincoln, Nebraska. The wall of snow entirely obscured the front of the house, up to the gutters.

The drift was a major bonanza for my siblings, friends, and me because it was a pre-fabricated snow fort by default. All we had to do was tunnel horizontally through the packed snow to make “firing ports” in order to lob snowballs at anyone who might invade. There was no shortage of perfect consistency snow for ammunition. We stockpiled snowballs for readiness.

Our house was on a slight rise above street level so the fort itself was strategically significant. This ensured that we had a slight advantage in snowball fights. That said, we usually ended up soaked to the bone with melted snow and sweat. We had enough sense to know that when our coats and clothes were drenched, it was time to go inside. The weeks of the massive snow-fort was the time when my brother Mark and I were most eager to play outside.

Snow in the winter and bicycles in the warm months were our main sources of outdoor entertainment in Lincoln in the 1960s. One summer, we had skateboards to coast down the steep street that “T” intersected near our house. In the 1960s, skateboards had steel wheels that clack-clacked as they hit expansion joints on sidewalks.

One especially hot-humid day, I came up with the idea to have Mark tow me behind his bike down the steep hill. I wanted to find out how fast I could skateboard. Plus, the passing air might feel cool. I looped a length of old clothesline rope around Mark’s bike at the top of the hill, then mounted the skateboard while holding onto the rope. I told my brother to pedal as fast as possible down the sidewalk.

Halfway down, I remembered that one sidewalk section had about a one-inch rise above level. I let go of the rope, but not soon enough. The steel wheels collided with the ridge and I continued forward to crash-land onto the concrete. Both knees and the underside of my forearms were badly scraped. Fortunately, there were no broken bones or sprains. I can laugh about the incident now; but at the time my lesson in inertia had caused a lot of physical pain. At least the skateboard survived unscathed.

The best part of the stupid accident was that I had to stay indoors to recuperate because I could barely move. That time was well spent assembling model cars, sketching, and reading. This brought me great joy, because I’m basically an indoor kind of guy.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson. “The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Hometown, Meanderings, Youth and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Play Outside

  1. Doug says:

    I recall the winter storms in Nebraska being more intense than they are today. The house I grew up in on Madison Ave, was situated just right so the snow piled up in 6 foot drifts. We made the most awesome forts in the back yard. Had separate rooms for the guys and girls. When the snow began to melt, there was no place for the water to go, so we ended up with a huge ice skating rink. I wonder if the people who live there now, still experience those drifts.

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