Appalachia Folklore Games

What Did You Do When You Were A Kid?

Chatter and Chitter

Summertime always makes me think back to being a kid. I remember summer vacation from school seemed like it would stretch on forever. Now time flies so fast summer goes by in a blur of gardening and sunshine.

We’re quickly approaching another time of the year that takes me back to childhood, the start of a new school year. I still feel the excitement of new books, teachers, backpacks, and clothes even though I haven’t experienced the annual occurrence in years myself nor do I even have children who experience it any longer.

Over the coming days I’m going to be talking about things we did when we were kids. From games, songs, to folklore, I hope to touch on it all.

As you can see from the photo above Chatter and Chitter’s favorite play past-time was to be outside. Whether they were building play houses, making mud-pies, or fighting imaginary foes they would rather be outside than anywhere else when they were children.

If you’d like to send me a short written piece about something you enjoyed as a child or an old game/song/riddle you remember I’ll try to share it along the way. You can send it to me at [email protected]


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  • Reply
    Stephen Taylor
    August 6, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Ever since I made the mistake one day to say to my mother I was bored and she made me clean the bathrooms, summertime was time to exercise my creativity to entertain myself. Summertime primarily signaled a whole lot of outdoor play for me and my younger brother from exploring the woods at the end of our cul de sac, to wading a mile or so up in Ellicott Crick, (a major tributary to the Niagara River) up to the Alden Slate Banks to search for fossils and slide down 60 ft. slopes, (the Banks is a world-renowned glacial repository of trilobite fossils which look like modern-day horseshoe crabs), to picking wild strawberries and black raspberries in the grass field behind our subdivision for my mother to turn into delicious pies.

    Summer also meant swimming lessons at 8 AM at the outdoor town pool in 74-degree water, free-swim at the high school indoor pool from 2-4 PM, bike rides and making and flying model airplanes. While “uptown”, I’d scour the ground for empty bottles I could take to the local candy store to collect the deposit and trade for sweets.

    Most of all though, summertime was a time spent with neighborhood children playing kickball, tag, kick-the-can, and tag football. The best of all was the evening softball games we played with the huge asphalt circle as our softball diamond. Kids from 6 years old to 16 all played. Without any parental intervention, the kids picked teams fairly, balancing ability on each team and we refereed the games ourselves, resolving disputes fairly and amicably. An occasional vehicle would interrupt our game but not for long. The biggest adjustments we had to make were when we lost team members to the essential watching of the “Brady Bunch” and other primetime shows. We’d reconfigure our teams on the spot and resume play.

    Finally, summertime was a time of being aware of learning how to the balance freedom with responsibility. At 8 AM, I’d head to explore the woods or field. As long as we were home for lunch 15 minutes after the noon whistle blew, checked in by 5:30 for supper, and were home 5 minutes after the street lights came on after dusk, my parents let me and my siblings play outdoors to our heart’s content. What terrific times those were.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    August 4, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    I enjoyed being in the woods, I read a lot, started school at 5 y/o, but most of all it was music. WSM’s Opry, WLAC’s delta blues John “R”, from Nashville. WJJD’s Randy Blake’s Suppertime Frolic from Chicago, Wayne Raney & Lonnie Glosson. I think they were with WCKY in Ohio. My hero was Hank Williams because he wrote most of his own songs as did Lefty Frizzell.
    My neighbor, Billy Burnette, started teaching me guitar about 1952 and later my cousin, Junior Mauney, took over. Junior played anything Chet Atkins or Merle Travis played. He took away my flat pick! Made me use my thumb and fingers. I remember being on WKRK live from the Blair Theater about 1958, sharing the show with the Barkers. Doyle’s amp blew and he had to use my little amp but it worked. That started a lifelong friendship. I started writing songs, performing and recording some. Still do. Just a kid going on 76!
    Ole Don

  • Reply
    August 4, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    I did I misunderstand? I sent my recollections in an attachment to an email. Was that not what you wanted?

    • Reply
      August 5, 2018 at 6:54 am

      Papaw-you didn’t misunderstand 🙂 I got the piece you sent-thank you!!

  • Reply
    Barb Wright
    August 4, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    We were always outside..until dark! We played in the spring run, caught lightning bugs and various other critters..and my favorite! My oldest brother would hide up the trees and scare us!! We called it ” monster”. Of course that was played after dark. I miss those times…kids just don’t seem to do that anymore…pity!

  • Reply
    August 4, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Much like you, Tipper, I looked forward to school with excitement. The smell of books and chalkboards was my favorite time, and the smell of the old floors in those schoolhouses was something I have never forgotten. I read every book in their small library, and once had to be chased out to take advantage of recess. Not a total book nerd by any means, I could climb a tree or ride a bike with my feet on the handle bars. Childhood was the biggest adventure, and I just wish I could enjoy my second one as much 🙂

    Before we moved to a farm we lived in a Coal Camp. To some it may seem it was a dirty and poor environment, but to me it was a magic place. There were lots of children, and we mostly had loads of freedom. Remarkably, everybody stayed out of bad trouble. I did very well until I decided to play coal miner with a visiting cousin. I took her out to our coal pile and proceeded to rub slack all over us both. We happily played coal mining until it was time for her to go home. For whatever reason I never even got a lecture, but I do remember they never brought her back for a visit. She was a prissy clean little girl, but for that one day she seemed to really enjoy being a coal miner.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    August 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Soon as school let out for the summer, I figured I had enough Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic crap and was ready to kick off them shoes and go barefooted. Me and a bunch of us boys would walk to the Nantahala River and fish. On the way we passed by Dewitt Mason’s place and he had a bunch of pretty girls sitting on the porch. They’d wave and whistle at us as we passed their house, but we never let on. Besides, we were interested in fishing and raiding Elmer Childers’ Garden, if he was nowhere to be seen.

    By the time we’d walked five or six miles, we just couldn’t wait any longer to get ourselves wet in the Beautiful Nantahala above the Powerhouse. Sometimes we counted bridges from the Tail Race to above the 3rd. bridge. wade the river and go up Piercy Creek and catch Speckled Trout, way up the creek. We cooked the Specks near the creek and enjoyed (as my buddie Jim would say) some of the finest dining in the world. …Ken

  • Reply
    August 4, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Catching lightning bugs, chilling a watermelon all day, and cutting it and eating it outside at dusk, ice cream socials at church with hand-cranked ice-cream, going swimming was a big deal because we didn’t live near water, the list goes on. Kids today are missing out on so much.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2018 at 9:23 am

    My childhood memories always include cousins. An aunt had three girls about the same age as me and my sisters. She also had an older son and he definitely helped create some memories. He was the most mischievous boy I have ever known-not mean, just mischievous. With little traffic on the main road, he would wait for hours for a vehicle to stop and pick up a purse in the middle of the road. As the occupant got out of the car, he would make it disappear by pulling the attached fishing line from his hidden spot in the creek. Dad would have used his peach switch if he had known about some of the dangerous games we played while visiting there. The jump board, dry land sled and the swimming hole in the creek with a Tarzan swing was a well kept secret.

  • Reply
    August 4, 2018 at 8:52 am

    I have so many happy memories and not so happy ones that it would be difficult to pick out just one or two. Memories of occurrences, unpleasant at the time, have become happy memories. They say that ” Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” Like the time I shot myself in the hand. It was painful at the time but now it gives me something to talk about.

    Since I am in my second childhood should I include things that happened yesterday?

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 4, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Sounds familiar. Our playground was the woods and fields. There weren’t many things we did inside, even in winter but Monopoly was one. Given the chance, we could play it long enough to get bored with it. Then we had to go back outside. Over the years we made a lot of dugouts and hideouts and tree houses. We even made a stove out of a one-gallon Coleman fuel can and used it in our hideout in winter. It worked like a charm.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 4, 2018 at 7:08 am

    Tipper–Like the twins, weather permitting most of my childhood was spent outside. Here are some of my favorite activities (and memories):
    *Playing war–maybe because I was born in WWII and the Korean War was at its peak in my halcyon days of youth, there was a lot of this complete with forts, pine cone or magnolia pod “grenades,” and of course my trusty Red Ryder BB gun.

    *Fishing–I spent an inordinate amount of time on the banks of the Tuckaseigee and wading the waters of Deep Creek and Indian Creek. Maybe that had real meaning, since I’ve written a great deal about fishing as an adult.

    *Playing various types of ball games in season–rolly bat, pick-up basketball (we had a goal in the yard), etc.

    *Harvesting nature’s bounty–gathering poke sallet, picking berries, nutting in the fall, getting fox grapes for jelly, and more. I still enjoy these fun things.

    *Hunting–From the time when I first had a shotgun (before my teens) until I went off to college, small game, mostly squirrels and rabbits, loomed large on my fall and winter radar

    *In the summer, swimming, damming up branches, riding inner tubes, skipping rocks, riding my bike, and spending time on the nearby golf course all were important.

    *Finally, and I think it is important to include this, there was work from a quite early age, but to me it was almost like play–helping Dad in the garden and Mom with her flowers; mowing lawns (with a reel-type push mower); spending scads of time with Grandpa Joe hoeing, weeding; or feeding his hogs and chickens; caddying on the golf course; and more.

    I had a wonderful mountain childhood, carefree though without lots of material things, and the one other thing of great importance to me, a gift for a lifetime, was that from very early on I was an inveterate reader.

    Jim Casada

    • Reply
      Joe Mode
      August 21, 2020 at 2:59 pm

      Describe the game of Rolly Bat. I haven’t heard that term in a long, long time, but can’t remember how the game was played. We played Army all of the time. I was born in 1961, with a Marine and Korean War veteran as a dad. Sgt. Rock comics were my staple and source of entertainment.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 4, 2018 at 7:00 am

    I loved to be outside, I especially loved creeks and woods. I would wander the woods and play in the creek, usually looking for rocks, as long as they would let me. I always has a rock collection. I thought all of them were beautiful and some of them actually were. I still love pretty rocks. I always stop and pick up rocks that catch my eye.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    August 4, 2018 at 6:58 am

    My summers as a child were full of so many good times. Swimming in the creek, putting blankets over the clothesline to make a tent, sleeping in the tent, playing tag til it got so dark we couldn’t find each other, climbing trees, weekends spent at the farm, porch sitting and singing and best of all was a week at Church Camp.
    When I listen to the songs you post on Sundays it reminds me of the ones we sang around the campfire.
    Mother always said you will never be lonely as long as you have good memories. She was right so I just keep on making them. Thank you for helping us remember.

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