Remembering the days of backyard footballPublished 1:21pm Saturday, October 1, 2011
Here we are, officially into the fall season and things have been pretty enjoyable so far.
The smell of fall is everywhere, and although the smell is hard to describe it definitely has an odor all of its own. Spring and summer can have their own distinct telltale smells but to me there is never any mistaking fall.
As the season progresses falling leaves will become even more prominent along with the drying foliage. There is just no mistaking the feeling that I get when enjoying the outdoors on a cool, crisp, fall day.
If I close my eyes and think back to my days as a youth there are some mighty good memories. I spent many afternoons playing neighborhood football after school. There were, of course, the bigger games that we would plan on Saturdays. It involved getting as many of our friends as we could to commit to a Saturday of football. Sometimes we’d play at Hammer School back when there was only a schoolyard where the football field is now. That turf was usually reserved for times when we could get kids from farther away to come and play.
If it was just us neighborhood kids then we’d either play in the Boyer’s backyard or my backyard. We usually had enough kids from south of Hammer Road for our team and north of that they also had a good number of kids. I guess it was about logistics and in a way bragging rights, but most of all it was about a bunch of kids having fun playing the game they loved. In the end it really didn’t matter who won or lost it was about playing the game and having fun.
These were days when kids made their own fun, and they had to call on their imagination to make that happen. I can remember many games we’d play like tag, Annie-I-over and kick-the-can, which were probably our favorite games when we’d get to come outside after supper. This was harmless fun and didn’t involve breaking car windows, stealing car radios or trashing houses in a neighborhood. I have to admit that there was a time or two when a window got soaped on Halloween or a brown bag full of dog stuff was set on fire on someone’s steps, but those incidents were few and far between and reserved for someone we thought deserved it.
There was one particular time that we thought it would be fun to pull a prank on a neighbor girl whose parents were gone and her boyfriend was visiting. Unfortunately for us the guy must have been waiting for us and he took off after us as soon as we initiated the prank. I don’t think I had ever seen anyone who could run like that. He must have been part gazelle. It didn’t didn’t end very well because I luckily just got shoved down but another one of us got caught by him and took the brunt of the punishment. Two of our other cohorts cut through a backyard and literally got clothes-lined.
This was the extent of our wild side stuff and there was a lesson to be learned in there somewhere. I do believe that after that we didn’t venture too far from home and we pretty much stuck to the usual games. It was all pretty harmless fun and nothing that destroyed anyone’s property.
I have to wonder how many folks remember playing the inside game of “hide the thimble,” or better yet, how many even know what a thimble is? This was a game that we played at my grandma’s a lot when our family was together for a gathering. We didn’t have television to entertain us so you either listened to the radio, a phonograph or found another way to entertain. Hide and seek was another game that could be played either inside or out but unless you had a large house it was better played outside. It was pretty amazing the fun you could have and you didn’t have to buy batteries or plug anything in.
On another note, the fall colors are starting to take shape in our area and around the state some areas are at 50 percent or more of peak. This is a great time of year to take a drive to the river or venture north for beautiful scenery. If you are more inclined to stick around the area try taking a little drive down south of Twin Lakes or even cruise South Shore Drive, a drive I enjoyed just the other day. It’s a great time to slow things down and just enjoy what we have. Once the lakes turn over, which is usually after the first hard frost the fishing should pick up so don’t put that tackle away just yet.
From the reports that I have heard, duck and goose hunting has been pretty good so far, at least for my grandsons, Trevor and Taylor. They had really good luck hunting with their uncle, Jeremy, on the opener. Grant, my youngest grandson, shot his first duck, a wood duck, on the youth waterfowl hunting day.
Until next time hunt safe, try a little fall fishing and enjoy the changing colors of our great Minnesota outdoors.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the coming year.
Dick Herfindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.