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South Texas Living

Reminiscing: Kids’ games have changed since I was growing up

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Julia Castro
Apple Pie and Salsa
January 18, 2012 | 1,990 views | Post a comment

With the passing of another Christmas season, I saw so many commercials about toys and gadgets that it nearly blew my mind. Gone are the days when children asked for and were lucky to get a doll, dishes, toy cars and trucks, a BB gun like the boy in the movie “A Christmas Story,” or maybe even a bike. Now, kids ask for phones that are mini-computers, iPods, Wii games, laptops, and other high-tech devices.

I know my nephew, Rudy, once wrote about all the games that he remembers playing, from a boy’s point of view. I got to thinking of what I played when I was little. At the top of the list is playing comadritas. That’s playing house with dolls and dishes. My only doll was my Simplicia, which I have written about being almost as big as me. My playmate most of the time was my niece, Lola.

Once, I got my cousin, Jessiel, to play with me since they were living with us. He made me promise not to tell the other boys. But, shame on me -- I didn’t keep my promise and he never again played with me. Back then boys didn’t do that.

Then, there was the jump rope. At home I used the individual size rope. I loved jumping rope at school with the other girls, using the long ropes with two girls turning it at opposite ends. What I could never master was the double ropes, where they would turn two ropes simultaneously in opposite directions.

Then there were the softball games. I wasn’t good at that but I had to join in because it was part of the curriculum. I wasn’t a good hitter, and when I tried to catch the ball it would always hit the tips of my fingers and I would get a jammed finger. That hurt. Sports were not my thing.

The front yard at the Spruce house was all dirt, and I played marbles there with my brother Rufo. We also played with little cars and trucks, making roads on the dirt.

On summer nights, we had fun catching fireflies and putting them in jars and also playing hide and seek. On winter nights, we all enjoyed playing Chinese checkers, grown-ups and kids alike. And Mamá would entertain us by making animal figures with her hands and throwing the shadows on the wall by the light of the kerosene lamp.

Then, there were the zankos (stilts) that Mamá made for us. That was a lot of fun. (Didn’t I tell you Mamá was multi-talented?) When our kids were growing up, Henry made zankos for them. But, then I was the mother and I worried that they would get hurt because they would run races. And I loved playing jacks. That was something I could do by myself, and playing with paper dolls, dressing them in different outfits.

How things have changed. We kids were never bored. It didn’t take much to make us happy.

Something else I was reminiscing about -- a word game that we played in grammar school, in the upper grades. I don’t know where or how were learned it, but for those that didn’t know it yet, it would confuse them to hear some of us speaking this language. We would add “f” and the last letters of the preceding syllable. For instance, “tu estas loco” (you are crazy), a favorite phrase, became “tufu efestafas lofocofo.” I really would like to know if anyone out there from my generation remembers that.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry.

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