De' fliengde Vuogtlänn'r

Observations, rants, etc. from a guy who really gets around.


The Games People Play

A couple of times over the past week or so, I've had conversations with people about the games we played as kids. It seems kids today (where have I heard that phrase before?) just don't know how to have fun.

The beauty of growing up in a row house in Baltimore was that we had an alley out back. To make it even better, we lived just a block away from Wyman Park, which is where Johns Hopkins University is located.

Many's the summer evening we played games like SPUD or In-Free. There were others, I'm sure, but that was over 40 years ago. Those two games are the ones I remember best.

SPUD was simple, but tricky. The person who was "It" was chosen by lot. Someone else threw a large ball (the size of a volleyball) as high as possible into the air. Whoever was "It" had to stand there and try to catch it when it came down, while the rest of us scattered. As soon as he caught it, he yelled "Stop", and we all had to freeze.

Then he'd look around for the nearest person. Taking four steps -- as long as he could make them -- he spelled out "S-P-U-D-period!", at which point he had to stop. Then he had one chance to nail the nearest person with the ball. If he hit someone, that person became "It" and the whole thing started all over. If he missed, he was "It" for another round.

"In-Free" was probably more popular. We all gathered at the same location (base) near a lightpole next to one family's garage. Again, "It" was chosen by lot and had to cover his eyes and count to 100 while we all scattered. I can still here the cry of "...100! Here I come, ready or not! Anyone around my base is automatically 'It'!" Then he had to try to find us.

Oh, the creative places we hid! The rule was that we had to stay in the alley or in the yards fronting the alley. From there, it got creative. I still remember one guy hiding in an unlocked parked car. Another guy hid on the roof of the garage. The idea was for "It" to find each of us, then run back to the base, bang the can on the ground three times and chant "1-2-3 on _____, hiding in the trash can!" (or wherever). That person was then out.

The other part of it was for those of us hiding to try to sneak up to the base, grab the can, bang it on the ground and yell "Olly, olly, in-free!", in which case we started all over again, with the same person as "It".

What I wouldn't give for an alley, a #10 can and some kids....


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