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  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon

    2011 - 08.18

    We played at night by the illumination of the porch light until someone would ease open the wheezing screen door just enough to slide a hand inside and flip the switch. We would then play by the light of the silvery moon until one of our parents or, Heaven help us!, Mamaw caught us and turned the light back on. “You’re going to fall over something out there in the dark, running around like a bunch of crazy chickens with your heads cut off!”

    “One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four, five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes more. My mother told me to pick the…very…best…one. You’re IT!”

    We usually started with Swinging, or Frozen, Statues. “It” would grab your arm and sling you around as hard as he/she could before abruptly letting you go. Whatever position you landed in was the one you had to hold until one of the others lost by falling down or moving a limb. Everyone knows that frozen statues don’t move.

    I hated Tag because it seemed everyone’s legs were longer than mine and they were much faster. I could be “It” for hours unless someone felt sorry for me and relented, taking my place. My cousins played for keeps so that didn’t happen very often.
    Hide and (Go) Seek was fun in the daytime or even at dusk but scared me to pieces in the dark. I hated being alone, in the dark, not daring to breathe loud for fear of being found. But there were many times I gave myself away deliberately because I just knew that Frankenstein, Dracula or the Wolfman were creeping up behind me, ready to tear me limb from limb at any second. “Ollie Ollie oxen free” was usually called out while I was standing beside “It”, waiting to begin the count to 100. Then came a whole new terror when I had to actually go hunting the ones that were hiding. Of course each cousin would jump at me and make me scream every time I found him or her. (And they wondered why I liked to make up scary stories to frighten them half to death!)

    Red Light-Green Light had to be the most challenging, both in stealth and arguments than all other games combined. “Nuh unh, you did NOT see me moving!” How can you know if “It” saw you move or not? And sometimes the movement was so blatant that even a blind man would’ve seen them move. Perhaps we were all dropped on our heads as babies.
    Red Rover-Red Rover was an exercise of endurance. Just how bruised did you want to get by gripping the other hands, holding back a running dynamo of familial energy? Unfortunately, several times I was knocked head over heels because I refused to break rank and let the offender get through our defenses. I had the bumps, cuts and bruises to prove it.

    At the end of the evening we’d go inside and, if we’d been relatively well-behaved, we’d get a bottle of RC to wash away the dryness, then a cool washcloth to wipe away the dirt, grass and errant mosquitoes that had hopped aboard for the ride. These are some of the happiest memories of my childhood.

    How many childhood games do you remember? Want to compare? Ready? Set? Go!

    YOU’RE IT!

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