Of one thing I can be certain, if there was anyone who had an idea that they could successfully open an exercise gym around my childhood home place back then and expect it to be profitable, they …
Of one thing I can be certain, if there was anyone who had an idea that they could successfully open an exercise gym around my childhood home place back then and expect it to be profitable, they would have been laughed out of town. After all the chores were completed and it was bedtime, there would not have been enough energy left in one's body to open the door to the place. Weight lifting was accomplished by lifting firewood and carrying it into the house, cutting and loading timbers, carrying 100 pound sacks of animal feed, lugging water from the well or creek, and numerous other household chores. Drawing water from the well provided a means to exercise arm muscles. There were more than enough errands to run to build up the leg muscles and to keep one m good physical shape. After homework from school was completed, one was ready to "hit the sack." Roosters would announce a new day very early in the morning when a new day of activities would begin.
There was little time for play when I was growing up. My brother and I were introduced to a crosscut saw when we were old enough to use it, and we cut pulpwood and mining timbers from our land to help with needed expenses. There was always work to do around the home· place which required most of our time. We had no bicycles to ride or balls with which to play Well, scratch that, as we did have a bicycle. I hesitate to call it a bicycle because it was nothing but a frame and wheels. It had no fenders and the chain did not work. It had only one pedal and no brakes. The only way to ride it was to push it to the top of a hill, jump on, and hang on. This is the way that I learned to ride a bicycle, but not without an ample share of scrapes and bruises. In regard to the lack of balls to play with, I can recall that we once used a hog's bladder for a football and twine wrapped around a black walnut for a baseball, a sturdy stick served as a bat. We were not exactly in the big league!
When with other children, there were games we played such as hide and go seek, follow the leader, hopscotch, dodge ball (if we could find a ball to use), Annie over (involved throwing a ball over a building), Mumble peg (a boys game that involved throwing a knife from different parts of the body and have it stick upright in the ground), and marbles. Many marble games were played for keeps which allowed the shooter to keep any marbles knocked outside the ring. A taw was used to shoot, with their thumbs, to knock other marbles from the ring. There were always horseshoes to pitch to ring the stake in the ground or washers to land in one of the three lined holes that were dug in order to play the game. Horseshoes were pitched with vocabulary such as ringers and leaners. Horseshoes were not hard to come by as there were normally used and extra ones at the barn. Also pitched were washers, although I recall that when some of our more prosperous relatives visited they liked to show off by using silver dollars in place of washers. In both the games of horseshoes and washers opposing sides stood a distance facing each other and with horseshoes the participants attempted to ring a stake set in the ground on the opposition side. With washers there were three small round holes hardly bigger than the washers dug in areversing row, one as near the next as possible. They were dug on each side, and the object of the game was to throw the washer so as to ring the hole. There were more points to be earned by ringing the back hole than putting the washer in the first. A washer in the first hole was worth 5 points, the second 10 points, and the third 15 (or 20, if so decided). These were outdoor activities, but there were games to be played on a rainy day The "show¬offs" would drag out a chess board in order to display their expertise, while those who just wanted to have a simpler game would opt for dominoes, checkers, Rook or Old Maid cards (playing cards were not allowed in many households, including ours), Chinese checkers, pick-up-sticks, tic-tac-toe, and various board games if available.
Daddy at one time built us a flying jenny which was fun but potentially dangerous. The construction involved cutting down a large tree leaving a high stump. A twelve foot long 2 by 8 inch board was then attached to the top of the stump in a way that allowed the board to spin. An application of a little axle grease between the board and the stump would enable the board to rotate very fast. Caution had to be taken so as not to get into the path of the spinning board. See-saws were made by placing the boards over a fallen log. Sometimes two of the smaller children had to get on one end to counter-balance the weight of the larger person.
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