What We Did for Fun

What We Did for Fun


            Ten minutes ago, my daughter and I were sitting in the same room together, she on the couch and me on the recliner totally ignoring one another. She was on her laptop and ipod or ipad or whatever the hell they call those things (I call them ipoots) and I was on my computer engrossed in the blogging world that I so easily fall into from time to time. It was just another normal night in the twenty-first century, just a family with enough technology in their hands to live separate from one another – while sitting less than six feet apart.

            Then, the most amazing thing happened. I heard this click-clack-click and looked up to see my daughter (gasp) not only her electronic diversions, but piddling away on a chalkboard. She was making up words, engrossed in some game that was all of her own doing. It had nothing to do with the internet or even television. It was something in the writing world we like to call imagination. She was using her imagination to entertain herself.

            It reminded me of a childhood that seems not too far away, yet a thousand light years from where I am now. I grew up in a world where electronic devices did not dominate your life, because electronic devices could not dominate your life. My pre-teen and early teen days took place in the days when most of the televisions in my community were still black and white, there was no cable television (only three channels), and, even though eight track tapes and, later, cassette tapes, record players still dominated living rooms. It was a good time to be a kid, but only under two conditions; you could either be satisfied doing very little (watching television, listening to radio) or you had some sort of imagination. In the world I grew up in, imagination was paramount to a healthy childhood. There was so little to do, eventually you had to turn to yourself for entertainment or else, you’d go mad.

            Looking at my daughter pounding away on that chalkboard got me to thinking of some of the things that I did as a kid to keep entertained. The first, of course, was playacting, as any child does. Before I turned seven, I was Batman, Superman, Tarzan, Bruce Lee, the Lone Ranger, Daniel Boone and Mingo. Later, I was also John Robinson from Lost in Space.  I as grew older and fell in love with writing, I look back and find that I never really quit playacting. I just started making up my own plays in the form of short stories.

            Aside from making up characters, either in the form of playacting or writing, I was also a voracious reader. I ate books like some people eat candy. Living in the country with the nearest neighbor a mile away and the nearest friend, three miles away, there were many times when I was alone with my books and my thoughts. The Hardy Boys, The Three Detectives (an Alfred Hitchcock invention), and The Lone Ranger were some of my early favorites. By the time I was eleven, Star Wars was a big deal and I sank myself into everyone of those I could get my hands on (there was an entire series of books about Han Solo).

            Reading and writing weren’t the only things I did. I made up card games that I played by myself. I threw darts like they were going out of style. I threw the centers (around the bulls eye) out of more dartboards than I care to remember. At one point, after an episode on Happy Days where there was a coin-snatching contest, I was stacking pennies on my forearm for hours at a time (Thirty without a drop was my personal best. Not bad for eleven).

            Of course, it was not always just me that was left alone to make up games. I had a cousin that I practically grew up with and we spent a lot of time engineering games both inside the house and out. Outside was easy. All we needed was a football and we were suddenly Bob Griese and Paul Warfield (huge Dolphins fans). We rode our bikes ten thousand miles before we were in the third grade. We swung from grapevines, just like Tarzan. 

Inside, it became a little more difficult, but we managed. We played paper football. We played cards, real games this time. We played football against one another on our knees in my grandmother’s bedroom floor. We fashioned a rim, taped it to the top of a doorway, and played nerf basketball. We threw darts.

            There were some things we had, games that were bought for us that bordered on electronic (electric football and…oh, that’s it), but mostly what we had was ourselves to keep us entertained. As I said, especially growing up in the country, outside was easy. I had literally hundreds of acres I was free to run on. I could leave the house and go through a mile or more of pasture and woods without seeing another person. But get stuck inside on a rainy day during the week with three channel to choose from (games shows till noon, local noon time shows till one, and then soap operas the rest of the afternoon) and having fun was something you definitely had to put some thought into.

            Did you grow up in the pre-electronic age? What did you do for fun when you had to entertain yourself?


Tim Keen










About timkeen40

When I was seven, I opened one of those little Golden Books (Lassie) and started copying the words down on paper and it set my soul on fire. I have been writing ever since. I don't know where this is going but I invite you along on the journey.
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22 Responses to What We Did for Fun

  1. lafgod says:

    My brother and I were always on a hunt to find stuff to make either or fort or a raft or something with. We played tag and kick the can, We played our own version of about every sport their is. In the summertime we lived in the the lake, skiing, fishing, swimming or just cooling off. In the winter it was sledding and ice skating. A sled could be made out of virtually anything from a trash can lid to a large piece of cardboard box. Anything used for a sled could also be use in making a fort later. Our favorite thing to do besides anything on the lake was roller skating a the local rink every weekend. It was the town hangout spot for kids of all ages. It’s amazing, everything you mentioned, we did also. In the 60’s and 70’s is seems that kids were the conquerors of boredom and masters of their own universe and much of the time we rarely needed a watt of electricity. Thanks for sharing that trip down memory lane.

    • timkeen40 says:

      I spent a fair amount of time playing tag and Hide and Seek. We played a lot of Cop and Robbers. We didn’t sit with our faces in front of a television, computer or those other things. WE PLAYED.
      I am glad you liked it.


  2. prenin says:

    We played out on the street from leaving school until the street lights came on and we had great fun making go-karts and even camped out on a local field overnight.

    As an adult I am amazed about how little kids are allowed to do these days for fear of the bogeyman coming to get them! 😦

    Mind you: We’ve seen the dark side of that coin with kids who terrorised the area and broke every law in the book only to grow up career criminals and drug addicts.

    Now I see kids at play and I envy them their freedom.

    They are no safer than we were when we were kids, but they are no longer wrapped in cotton wool as the previous batch were…

    God Bless!


    • timkeen40 says:

      When I was younger than ten, my sister(who is younger than me) got off the school bus by ourselves at home and waited for Mom to get home. They would call that child abuse or endangerment or something, but in the world I grew up in (where we were raised to be adults), it was just the way things were done.

      Thanks for coming by,

  3. Hah, Tarzan! I used to imagine taping his lips together when he emitted that silly yodel. Today, I imagine female gorillas using him as a sex toy.

  4. Pamela says:

    Yes, that is what it was like growing up for me as well. Climbing trees, playing games in the yard, etc… What a different world it is. Excellent piece of prose writing, Tim. Good luck with the sales of your book. Thanks for stopping by my blog.


  5. anl4 says:

    And for me, too. Since I liked dolls, there was no end to the games, dolls could do everything. We played dolls outside, as well as inside. Along with all the other outside games, hide and seek, tag, red rover, riding bikes, skating, and we would walk the short three blocks to the movie, it seems like I saw all the movies of the day. We were never bored, again the library was just two blocks away. Thanks for your comments on my blog.

  6. anl4 says:

    I madea comment, but it disappeared?

    • timkeen40 says:

      Your comment came through. While it took a ride into town to go to the library, we did have the bookmobile making stop at the local country store that was within walking distance (at least for the time, a mile and a half). That was awesome for us countrians.

      Thanks for reading,

  7. The Hook says:

    Comics, board games, the occasional breath or two of fresh air… You know, the usual!
    Brilliant post, buddy!

  8. pattisj says:

    Nancy Drew and I hung out in an apple tree many days, I put ten thousand miles on my bike. When those activities weren’t feasible, I played with dolls and paper dolls inside and became a general nuisance to my older brother.

  9. prenin says:

    Hi Tim! 🙂

    Thanks for the visit and comment! 🙂

    You certainly have a good point there!

    Millions die every day, so why not on doomsday?

    God Bless and Merry Christmas!


  10. Tim, I am of course replying on End of the World Day… thanks for stopping by my blog.
    We had three girls in the family – lived on a cul de sac in the middle of nowhere, so we had the woods, the creek (“crick”) out back, climbing trees… lots of friends. My folks built a pool and the whole neighborhood was invited. Sleepovers in tents on the lawn, or on our porch with the bamboo shade down. Books, books. Older sisters read to me. We were named after Little Women (Beth, Jo, and Amy), and that was a fave. Once I could read, I was ALL OVER comic books and Nancy Drew. We had one Barbie doll apiece (this was the 60s, after all), and sometimes they were out hunting Nazi criminals hiding in the woods (poor GI Joe, tied to a tree and “pow! pow!”). At night, stargazing… oh, the times we had. I pity parents of young kids now, but I have one caveat: I was the single mom of a girl in the 90s, and I said NO to a lot of stuff: Pointless video games, buying more than one Beanie Baby a month… she never thought we were poor, but I told her tot ell her friends her mom was ‘old-fashioned’ if they gave her grief.

    Thanks for a great post, Tim! And thanks for the good wishes. Peace to you and yours, Amy

  11. And it was a lot of fun, wasn’t it? I grew up with almost no TV, record players, no VCR… You don’t miss what you don’t have, right? My kids have no video games and watch TV once a day. Yes, they do listen to music on CDs, but otherwise They just do free play, art & crafts, reading, etc, and they’re never bored. There’s no lack of imagination at our house!

    • timkeen40 says:

      Hey, good for you. I wish I could say that my kids haven’t had access to the vids, but they have. But I do limit it. My daughter has my imagination and I want her to use it.

      Thanks for reading my blog.


  12. saymber says:

    I enjoyed reading this Tim because it brought back good memories too as I read your recountings. We must have grown up in the same time period and I recognized and did variations of the things you did. I was always drawing and would spend hours on one portrait, explore the outdoors riding bike for miles or walking my dog nearly as far. I was a writer from as soon as I could to it until now! Wrote my first vampire story for school friends around 5 or 6 years old lol. I too LOVED to read – Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew and later on, the EXTREMELY predictable Harlequin Romances lol. There was always something to do and I had a very active imagination either playing Barbies with neighbor girls and cousins or with Hot Wheels and trucks with my neighbor boys, It’s important to have balance and as we progress into the heavily technological age, I hope parents will help their children find balance between the tangible and intangible world of cyberspace. Sounds like your daughter has a good handle on things! Thanks for visiting my blog and I look forward to following yours! Happy Holidays!

    • timkeen40 says:

      I am glad you enjoyed and identified with my childhood. It was a great time to be a kid where and when I grew up. Sounds as if the same can be said for you.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


  13. Oh yes…. my blog is about memories from a simpler time…. I spent a lot of time on my bicycle and primitive wooden skateboard (which only went in a straight line) played outside, made a playhouse out of an empty corncrib, hiked back to the woods, played tag with neighborhood friends, shot hoops with my brother in the haymow, made forts out of straw bales and basically just pretended the heck out of everything. I was bored sometimes, but never lacked things to do. Don’t forget The Bobbsey Twins books…..
    Great post.

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