The Games We Played by Judith Hayes

Guest contributor: Judith Hayes, Maine USA and Maine Historian

When I was a child growing up in Portland, the streets were safe. They were our playground. Jump rope, hopscotch, soft ball and other games were more fun when played on the street. If a car should enter our playground we just moved out of the way and waved as they went by. There were group games, “Mother May I?”, “Red Rover,” “Giant Steps,” and “Dodge Ball,” were a few and there were two person games and games you could play alone. My favorite play alone game was one called, “PlainSIES, ClapSIES.” It involved throwing a tennis ball against the side of a building, usually the school or my house, and calling out certain hand actions, which you accomplished from the time the ball left your hand until it bounced back. It went like this:

First round: PlainSIES, ClapSIES, Roll Around, BackSIES, Touch Your Knee, Touch Your Toe, Cross Your Arms and Away We Go!

With each word you tossed the ball against the building and performed the action. PlainSIES meant to simply throw the ball and catch it as it returned. ClapSIES meant you had to clap between the time it left your hands and returned. Roll Around required you to roll your hands around each other in the same time span. BackSIES meant you had to clap your hands behind your back. Touch Your Knee and Touch Your Toe meant exactly that. Throw the ball, perform the action before it returned. Cross Your Arms meant your left hand on the right shoulder and the right hand on the left shoulder and then catch the ball. Away We Go was a sweeping motion, spreading out your arms in a circular motion before catching the ball.

Now that all sounds relatively simple enough, but that is only where the game began. Once you had completed those successfully, (one mistake and you had to start over) it was time to up the challenge.

Second Round: You had to clap before each action, then perform the action and catch the ball when it bounced back.

Third Round: Once again, between the time you threw the ball and caught it, you had to roll your hands over each other and then perform the regular action.

You get the idea. It was a great hand/eye coordination developer. Just so you don’t think the game ended there, i must add that when you accomplished each of those actions, it then became triple action time. Throw the ball, clap your hands, roll your hands over each other and then perform the required action… all before the ball returned to be caught!

The ultimate goal would be to perform all 8 actions before performing the single action. I don’t recall anyone ever accomplishing that but I remember spending a few years trying, As we became more confident in our abilities we often held competitions at school during recess and lunch breaks. There were no prizes, but great satisfaction if you were the winner of the day!

Written and contributed by: Judith Hayes

Jim's handwritten signature

P.S. Thanks Judith! Skipping was fun, too. Nearing 60 I still skip in public in broad daylight. Try it and don’t worry about looking the fool. You will feel 10 years younger. Anyone who skips will recapture childhood feelings, and those who refuse may be taking life too seriously.

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