A Day of Rest, A Day of Play


Image Source: Tom Hubbard, EPA Documerica Project

Summer Sundays were never long enough. Never enough hours of sunlight for all our games. Gee, do kids even know how to play outside today?

After lunch we’d be out on the street, playing stickball until dark. Every week, all summer, all Sunday. And it was the greatest time ever.

We always played on my block. The Mirabelli’s stoop was first, the manhole cover was second, the Lazzeri’s stoop was third and home was the pothole that got patched over. The mound was in between the stoops. There were fire escapes on buildings on both sides of the street, and they could cause some crazy bounces. You had to be ready for anything if you were playing the outfield.

Our parents would get together on a stoop, or maybe set up a little table on the sidewalk. They’d play cards, maybe a little bocce, and enjoy the day with us, but on their own. They didn’t need to hover over us, ‘cause we were right there playing on the street.

We would all be our favorite players. Whenever I pitched, I was always Tom Seaver. I loved Seaver’s delivery, that bow-and-arrow release of the ball, the back knee almost on the mound while pushing off the front leg. Batting I was always Charlie Hustle, Pete Rose. Compact and coiled, a perfectly level whip of a swing, power to all fields. Rose was a joy to watch and fun to be. A neighborhood treasure.

We had some TV; three channels and we always watched the Saturday Game of the Week so we could play all day Sunday. Oh, I loved those endless days. Except for those late summer Sundays during the school year. I always hated that feeling of the weekend ending, and I always wanted the games to go on forever. But they always ended and Monday always came around…

I guess it’s all computers and twitting and texts today, and kids don’t give a damn about baseball anymore. Too many teams and they all play at night. And I’m not saying it’s all bad today. Just different.

But give me a stick and a glove and a full Sunday of pop flies bouncing off the fire escape any day. They don’t know what they’re missing, these kids.

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28 comments
  1. It is hard to get the kids away from the electronics now. If I play the radio really loud then they go outside, or I force them out. Football and hide and seek are the main one’s they play now.

    • That’s a good start. ;)

  2. What a great vintage memory. Yes, I wonder what the memories of today’s kids will be? Texting might be obsolete by then.

    • Shudder to think, right?

      • Oh yeah!

  3. We had different games in the suburbs, but not much different. Tree forts, lots of brambles to roam through. Long streets and steep hills to steer bikes down at breakneck speed with eyes closed and hands of the handle bars. I am glad my kids got that experience before electronics and fear took over.

    Wonderful memories, thank you.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Valentine! We did all of the above as well. Good stuff.

  4. Thankfully, my boys love to play outside but my oldest has a penchant for the gadgets. I hope they’ll have some great memories like the ones you shared here. I was a bookworm as a kid but I still got my fair share of bumps and bruises from taking dares on my bike, searching for rabbit dens in the woods behind our house and running full out across an open field after being certain a snake was on my heels – most of this at the prompting of my brother. We need to be able to remember the careless days of childhood – thanks for reminding me :)

    • Long as they’re playing with their gadgets outdoors…

  5. Sadly, some neighborhoods are unsafe for kids to play outside like the innercity where I sometimes drive through. Where I live, cars zip around so fast I don’t trust them. Luckily, where my mom lives it’s very safe and he runs around the community because it’s safe. I absolutely love seeing people sitting outside and talking to their neighbors and watching the kids play. This Wednesday, I’m taking my son to a baseball game. :)

    • It can be dangerous, for sure. Fortunately most kids are good cops. Have a great time!

  6. Very nice, Brian. Your stories are so nostalgia-soaked it’s just delicious. xo

    • Diseases minds think alike. *grin*

  7. Stick ball was the BEST game ever invented along with bottlecaps. I am happy to report my son is a street rat, always was, always will be. Sadly, most of his friends are Xbox Junkies (we don’t even have one). If you have a pulse, he will be your friend. GREAT stroll down memory lane.

    • YES! My dad totally played growing up in Brooklyn. Broom stick and a red rubber Spaulding ball, which was called a Spal-deen. Wish I could’ve taken him on back on his turf!

  8. writerwendyreid said:

    A lot of things are different today then when we were kids. Some differences are expected and chalked up to technological advances but unfortunately, our kids are suffering due to lack of fresh air and exercise. Kudos to all the parents out there who force their kids to get those much needed components of a healthy lifestyle. :-)

    • Damn straight!

      • writerwendyreid said:

        If you haven’t seen this yet, go and check it out please http://wendysworksdotcom.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/one-lovely-blog-award/

      • Wendy, thanks! I’m actually not participating in blog awards anymore, but I’m honored.

  9. Oh, the good ol’ days of three channels. I remember them well. No wonder kids didn’t sit at home. There was nothing to watch on the telly, no video games, no computers. We lived on a residential street in a typical house for six months until recently. Even though there were plenty of kids in the neighborhood, I never saw a single one of them playing outside. The only time I saw more than one kid standing next to another unrelated child was when they were huddled together waiting at their bus stop. Yeah, it’s different, but I think it sucks.

    • Test patterns! Remember when the there channels actually shut DOWN for the night? The National Anthem and then a test pattern! I LOVE that!

      • Yeah. It’s so nostalgic to watch that scene in Poltergeist where the Anthem plays and then screen turns to snow…and then the voices start.

  10. Dana said:

    Your Strands of Memory post got me thinking, as was evidenced by my lengthy comment, about my own childhood in Brooklyn and Queens and I’m currently writing about my Grandmother. Thanks for getting me going!

  11. This reminded me of visiting my cousins in Southie (south boston) in the summer and playing baseball in the narrow streets with practically the whole block sitting on their front steps, smoking a cigarette or drinking, and watching us play. Thanks for helping me remember =)

  12. It’s really hard to resist the electronic invasion. We don’t have video games, the kids aren’t on the computers and they don’t have cell phones. They do watch a bit of TV in the evenings, but that’s about it. I know from talking to parents of kids their age that ours are in the minority. They don’t seem to mind, though, so we’ll leave them with free time and their imaginations.

  13. Rebecca Booth said:

    You’ve captured the essence of being a kid in summer perfectly! Great nostalgic piece!

    • So glad to read this, thanks!

  14. Reblogged this on Jeff Donathan Pad.

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