Search for:

Blast From the Past

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

Children’s Games

5th grade bar-b-que
142 eleven year-olds
I am looking for one child. His name is Marco.
I yell loudly, “Marco!”
141 students respond,


The Grownups Wanted Us Dead

Winton Elementary School in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was built on the edge of a cliff. There was a 35-foot embankment not ten yards from the back door where I lined up every morning before fourth grade.

There was no fence. There was no barbed wire. There were no patrol dogs. THERE WERE NO CONCERNED PARENTS.

We were told to stay away from the cliff, the grownups of my childhood thought that was sufficient. If some child wandered too close and fell off, the general response was: “Damn idiot kid. He was told to stay away from there. Don’t know what his problem is. When that back-brace comes off I’m tanning his stupid hide.”

The cliff wasn’t all though – there was also the playground equipment; that we weren’t told to stay away from. In fact, if a day at school didn’t sufficiently maim enough kids, our parents would send us back after school. “Get out from under my feet! Go play on the playground. I’ll call you for dinner.”

I don’t know why we never figured out that the grownups were trying to kill us. They’d paint us in Mercurochrome, paste band-aids on us, or brace us with splints, and push us right back out the door.

We went willingly — and called it fun.


  1. Aw, yeah. Those posts afflict me with nostalgia, particularly for “The Grownups Wanted Us Dead.” Frankly, though, I’m all for leaving perils near pre-schools. We don’t need them all.

    1. Well then stay tuned. I think I’m going to replay all of my favorites. I am trying to stir up the enthusiasm to write a few more.

    1. Marco Polo is old hat, OC. As a game, it’s prolly been around longer than Sesame Street.

    1. Thom — Amoeba’s childhood was nothing like yours and mine. He knows nothing of the joys of mud pies, playing chicken on his bicycle, or romping in a pool with dozens of friends.

    1. No guard rail, Melli — the city moved tons of earth to put in the new freeway, and they dumped it all behind the school. That wild ravine is now a flattened and immaculately groomed city park.

    1. I agree. If something doesn’t come with a video game console or a remote control they have no use for it.

  2. And yet we were safer then then kids are now. There were no drug dealers. Very little kidnapping ( you had to have rich or famous parents). We could go where wanted to and the parents didn’t worry.Perhaps it was better when the adults were trying to kill us.

    Dr. John’s last blog post..On Being Right

    1. Were the kids really safer, or did we not have fifteen 24 hour cable news stations and the internet putting it in front of our face all of the time? And we didn’t have such a surplus of lawyers out drumming for business. It seems like every time I turn on the tv, there’s an ad from some legal outfit trying to persuade me that I need to sue someone … for something.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to know instantly if there is some sort of natural disaster (or even an unnatural one) and that we have to wear seat belts and have other things that keeps us safer. Impossible without the 24 hour news cycle and lawyers, but a little moderation might be nice. Unfortunately, that all goes right along with your “righteousness” post.

    2. Dr. John — we slept outside in the front yard every summer night. We ran the neighborhood and everybody in every house knew our names and watched out for us. If we misbehaved, word got home before we did. We were probably much better supervised than we ever knew.

  3. Oh man! I LOVE the Marco-Polo thing. What else could one expect with a bunch of 11 year olds. LOL

    And as far as the rest of it goes, remember … what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. 🙂

      1. Twin Falls. I don’t know how nearby it is, actually — I think they went to basketball games there. But I recognized the name, so it’s not too very far away.

        Barbara H.’s last blog post..Odds ‘n ends

        1. Barbara, the difference is 372 miles. Not nearby, but not too far for sporting competitions. We were pretty serious about our team sports.

  4. I’d never heard of Marco Polo until a couple of years ago. I agree with you Quilly about them wanting us dead and gone. My stepfather used to drag me on a sled behind the car when it snowed. I figured out that wasn’t very bright and wouldn’t do it anymore.

    amberstar’s last blog post..One of those days

    1. Skitching!!

      Oh, I’ve done that a thousand times! And prolly would again if we’d ever get enough snow around these parts. But if I ever catch the kidlets doing it. …

  5. I still use Hg O’chrome… it’s an old Irish remedy.

    I think the bottle I use was first used by the g-g-parents back in the… 20’s. Still the best disinfectant around. Orange color is nice, too.

    Haven’t jumped off too many cliffs lately, tho.

  6. The Marco Polo was funny.
    I thought of the road and parking lot dividing two play grounds behind the school at Crystal falls when you mentioned the cliff.

    bettygram’s last blog post..Raven challenge 65

Comments are closed.