Grey-blue clouds began stacking on the horizon like a pile of dirty dungarees.
Then they slowly shifted, and the sky turned rose as the sun sank lower.
I love that time of day, those few moments between daylight and evening when lightning bugs blossom on the humid air like tiny garden lanterns.
Author Carlos Castaneda called it a magical time. I have to agree.
I was lost in thought when I heard my great nephew Jordan out in the front yard.
His Nana had brought him over to chase lightening bugs.
He was running around jumping, laughing and squealing with joy. He was catching the little flickering critters and putting them in a jar that his grandma Debbie held for him.
He’s a very smart 5-year old, and he’s better with computers and electronics than most adults, but he’d rather be playing outside.
Hearing his laughter and watching him play gave me an idea: a column about what kids did before TV, iPads, electronic games, and computers.
We had a black and white TV when I was growing up, but it would never have occurred to me to sit inside during summer to watch it, no matter what fuzzy images crawled down the outside antennae and into the old RCA Victor.
For one thing, if I was inside my mama would find something for me to do, and nine times out of 10, it involved things I didn’t like doing. “Go clean out under the chicken roost,” was her favorite chore for an idle kid.
So to avoid clamping a clothes pen on my nose and shoveling a half-ton of fresh chicken manure, I made myself scarce.
My friends and I spent the long summer hours playing games that most kids today have never heard of.
I decided to do some informal research, so I posted a question on my new “Rick Watson columnist” Facebook page: what games did you play as a child. I got a ton of feedback.
It was obvious reading through the comments that many people had similar experiences when they were younger.
Linda Parker Spears said she and her friends slid down hills on cardboard boxes. Mike Sawyer said they played on a Flying Jenny, which is a homemade merry-go-round.
We spent countless hours spinning on our flying jenny. Everyone who rode that baby a few minutes stumbled off as drunk as Cooter Brown.
John Bender said he and his friends played kick-the-can. Kick the can is basically a game of hide and seek, with home base being three cans stacked one on another.
The one that’s “IT,” had to find the other players and then race back to touch home base before that person (or any other player) kicked the cans. If the cans got kicked, everyone was free to hide again.
I loved that game.
Times have changed and technology has made our lives easier, but that’s not always a good thing.
Many of our kids weigh too much. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I think they would be better off if they would lose the remote and spend some time chasing lightning bugs.