Friday, January 30, 2015

Let's Pretend...

Are you recording the stories of your life along with those of your ancestors? My great aunt spent decades doing genealogy, and yet I know very little about her, her siblings (including my grandmother), and their parents. As we research our families, let's also share our stories so they won't be forgotten. 

As children, my brother, sister, and I spent countless hours outside playing pretend with our friends. While we played some of the more common games like school and store, we were also quite creative.


Who wouldn’t love to be in a parade? We would find as many things with wheels as possible: tricycles, pedal cars, my brother’s, and wagons. Then, we’d line up behind the leader, which was usually my big sister. When everything was set up, we needed an audience. My mom would watch our parade go by as we took off around the block or sometimes just up and down our street. Here comes the parade!

Everyone loves a parade!
My brother, then my sister, then myself. Strangely, I don't remember that blue pedal car.

Who has ever pretended to be a family of birds? We did! This was a game we played in the fall when the leaves from our towering elm tree littered the ground. We would rake them up in a pile, and then hollow out the middle to create a giant bird's nest. There would be room enough for three or four small children. One person would be the mommy bird, and we might also have a daddy bird. The other children would be baby birds. The babies would keep the mommy busy demanding food with their chirps. And, later, the mommy would teach the babies how to fly! The sky would grow darker as we ‘flew’ back and forth from the nest and around the yard until our moms yelled for us to come in to dinner.


This is another game I wonder if anyone else every played. We had a swing set in our backyard and would shimmy up the long poles to reach where the swings were attached. We’d unhook each swing and then hang it where it was only about a foot from the top pole. Carefully, the king and queen would get into these high swings…our thrones! If you weren't the king or queen, you were a servant. The excess chains would hang all the way to the ground and we tied a bucket onto one. Then, the royalty would demand their servants to bring them various items... including real snacks from the kitchen. I can’t imagine trying to shimmy up those poles today!

Another photo of us and some of our "wheeled" toys. There are branches of the Elm tree
whose leaves we used to create our bird's nest in the upper right. The porch swing
hung on the left side of this porch. And, in the backyard, between the house
and the tree, you can barely see our yellow swing set. 


While the other ‘games’ were played over and over, I only remember playing “Guinness Book of World Records” once. We had a Guinness book, probably from the school, and had looked through it to try and find a record we could break. We decided we would try to set the record for the longest time swinging. (Maybe that’s why I hate swinging so much as an adult!) I guess we’d looked up the rules or we made them up, but we decided we could each get off for the swing for a  few minutes every hour to use the bathroom or stretch our legs or just give our swinging bodies a break. But, the swing couldn't stop swinging and someone had to be on the swing at all times. My mother would serve us food and be the official timer. I honestly have no idea how long we lasted, but I’m guessing it was several hours.

I just looked up the current record. It’s called “Longest Marathon on a Swing.” It says, “The longest marathon on a swing is 32 hr 2 min 3 sec and was achieved by Aimee Pivott (New Zealand) in Pukekohe, Auckland, New Zealand, on 4-5 October 2013.” Maybe we should give that record another try! I suggested this to my sister, but she said we stopped trying to break the record when she started puking. I guess I forgot that part!

And, here’s my attempt of making the first section, about the parade, more “show, not tell” by adding dialogue. (This post is actually part of a class I'm taking, "The Write Stuff", with Lisa Alzo.) I don’t feel very comfortable putting ‘words’ in other people’s mouths and I feel it makes the actual memory seem fictionalized. But, I also see how it could be more interesting to read. What do you think?


My sister hopped on her shiny red tricycle and ordered, “Everyone, grab something with wheels and line up behind me!”

My little brother ran to upright his John Deere tractor pedal car and trailer. I grabbed the wagon and ran towards my sister. I dropped the handle with a clang and ran back for the other tricycle instead.

We got in line and my sister explained, “It’s time for the parade and we need someone to watch. Dana, go get Mom.”

I ran up the steps to the screen door and knocked. After a minute, Mom opened the wooden door. “Yes?” Mom asked.

“We’re having a parade. You’ve got to come and watch!” I blurted out.

She unlocked the screen and followed me down the porch steps. I sprinted back to my ride and waited for my sister to start the parade.

All the way down the block I pumped my legs round and round and tried to keep up with my big sister. At the end, we turned around and headed back towards our house. Grinning ear to ear, we all pedaled past our mother imagining the cheering of the crowds.

Everyone loves a parade!  


  1. Love the story about the parade! What a fun memory. Where I grew up in CA, our backyard was basically a hill. I remember pretending to be riding Black Beauty as we ran from one yard to the next, and making forts under the scrub bushes. Fun! Fun! Fun!

    1. I love how you tied your play into a book. I always wanted to be part of the Boxcar Children. I wish I'd had a caboose!

  2. The Boxcar Children, my very favorite book when I was growing up. After my brother and I were sent to bed we used to pull the covers over are heads so we could "play pretend" without our parents hearing us. The only caboose we had was in our heads. Our favorite place was the dump where we find the most amazing things in great working order. The most amazing part was that eventually our caboose had electricity and running water. We played pretend like a modern day serial drama. Each night we would have to coach each other as to just what we had accumulated and accomplished. Oh, perchance to dream (again).

    1. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the imagination of a child again? Guess some people never lose that magic, but most of us probably lose it as we grow up.


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