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Question of the Week: Kiddo

by Susan Henderson on October 15, 2007

Think back to elementary school. What games did you play? What toys did you play with? What kind of candy did you eat? What was your first record (okay, CD for the true kiddos)? Paint me (a quick) picture of you!

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Wednesday, (birthday boy) Lance Reynald talks to journalist, game creator, and Mental Floss contributor, Michael Stusser about his strange interview subjects. Talk about going back in time!

By the way, if you are not familiar with Mental Floss, here’s Mo Rocca to help you discover what it’s all about.

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

lance reynald October 15, 2007 at 12:24 am

not big on games, books… always books.
for a few years there the 6 million dollar man doll was pretty sweet, then star wars happened and… do you have any idea how confusing relationships get when you have like 167 action figures and only 1 of them is female? Smurfette led to similar problems; but I really dug the little blue communal fellas…though I think Brainy and Vanity may have been on the downlow. Reeses, always reeses!! Those nickle-nips and zotz too. and I just about lost it when I scored the Steffenwolf on 8-Track… Magic Carpet Ride is a masterpiece! and Billy Joel- The Stranger, every track on it a classic!

what did ya’ll get me?

xo.

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Shelley Marlow October 15, 2007 at 1:31 am

I played fantasy games like: pretend you are dead while floating around the apple tree in the backyard; pretend you and your brothers are on a boat in a cave while on your bed; pretend that the walkway in the front yard was a walkway through outer space, so if you step off the walkway, you’d float away, you could order groceries from a stone post that was a future tv screen to place an order for delivery food; and pretend you can hypnotize girls. I liked licorice, red heart candies for their color, ribbon candy also for it’s colors. I had a guitar and a herdigerdi, and various dolls, especially liking the small dolls that arrived in flowers with flower names like Lilly of the Valley. I loved listening to a small transistor radio with songs like Donovan’s Andy in Vietnam in rotation.
Oh and Happy Birthday, Lance. I enjoyed your comments last week on Love.

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amy October 15, 2007 at 3:55 am

When I was a kid, I had a friend who was a terrible do-gooder. She was also a very charismatic leader, so we spent a couple of years designing calendars to raise money for hungry children, or planning bake sales for homeless people. Of course, we grew up in a very small town and had never even seen homeless people or hungry children, but it still seemed important.

I should note that we never got any calendars or bake sales off the ground — do gooder or not, it was all pure fantasy.

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Daryl October 15, 2007 at 4:30 am

I don’t know why but ARMY was the game we always seemed to be playing on my street. I was thinking about this recently how in the early/mid 60’s there was a preponderance of films on t.v. about WWII. Capture the Flag, and Hide and Go Seek were other popular team games in the neighborhood. And we actually had a “penny candy store” across the street. THAT was the after school hang out when I grew up. Collecting baseball cards was a big thing too.

{love the sounds of the games you played, Shelly!}

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Susan Henderson October 15, 2007 at 8:14 am

Lance – I forgot about Zotz. I loved those. I think you might have a story in you about the action figures.

Shelley – Oh. My. God. Please write a whole book based on your post here. Wow.

Amy – Ha! I almost choked on my coffee reading this.

Daryl – Wow, my mind is loving this. I’m wondering what the ARMY missions were and what happened when kids were caught. Lucky you about the penny candy store!

Quickie wrap of Sunday. My boys played in “The Best Of” School of Rock show – The Blender Theatre at Gramercy.

The first thing we noticed when we drove past the theatre was the sign out front. The kids went inside and we had to stand in line along with all the other parents and anyone else there to see the show. Mr. Henderson is always good for a humbling remark, and right after I said how cool this was, he said, “I’ll bet all the people walking by think we’re standing in line for a Barry Manilow concert.”
litpark paul green school of rock

This is what the stage looked like before the sound check.
litpark paul green school of rock

This is the backstage area.
litpark paul green school of rock

Here’s Green-Hand on stage for Come Together. He forgot to take off his jacket for the show.
litpark paul green school of rock

Here’s a blurry Bach-Boy on stage for I Am the Walrus. Forgot to take off his sweatshirt. History of Art t-shirt underneath.
litpark paul green school of rock

Green-Hand watching the stage.
litpark paul green school of rock

Okay, time to work on my book edits. I’m hoping to be halfway by the end of October.

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David Niall Wilson October 15, 2007 at 8:15 am

I bet most of you won’t even remember the toys I had…The Thingmaker – Creepy Crawlers, Action Jackson…but like others who’ve posted already, I always asked for books. In those days I devoured Tom Swift and The Hardy Boys – had all the How and Why series and used to paw through my grandparents books for older ones. I’ve always liked the feel of things that were very, very old.

One thing my grandmother gave me was a portable record player, the kind where the speakers swung out to the sides that had tubes inside and sounded wonderful – they played four speeds of records, which was also cool.

The first few records I owned that were memorable enough for me to remember…first, from my grandmother: Blue Hawaii and GI Blues. Bought from TV ads…The Best of Sam Cooke and the best of the 1950s … and finally, a record called “The Mighty Panther,” which was a calypso record I bought when a local department store went out of business…bought because it looked cool. I still remember some of the words and songs….

DNW

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JimT October 15, 2007 at 8:16 am

Kick-the-can was the big game in our neighborhood. We played in a vacant lot or the cemetery at the end of the street. On warm summer evenings the game lasted until well after dark. I spent every nickel earned from my newspaper route (or from selling greeting cards door-to-door) on baseball cards. The cards came with slabs of bubblegum back then, which usually ended up in a back pocket, filthy with lint and unchewed. My first record had to have been a 45rpm, probably some two-sided, pre-Elvis hit by Eddie Fisher or Theresa Brewer.

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Tom Jackson October 15, 2007 at 8:19 am

Games as a kid: Sports games. Started with the brilliantly conceived yet oh-so-simple All-Star Baseball, from that fine Chicago toymaker Cadeco. You have little cardboard disks, one for each baseball player, and their batting statistics are broken down to a pie chart, with numbers corresponding to a type of hit — 1 for a homerun, two for a grounder, three and four for fly balls, five for a triple, six and seven for singles, etc. Each disk is placed in a clear pocket witha spinner, and you spin to see what each batter does. The problem: The game was determined solely by batting stats, without pitching stats.

Then there were the Avalon Hill sports games: Paydirt (NFL), Statis-Pro Baseball (MLB — although we also played Statis-Pro football and basketball, and I believe there was a hockey version, too). Those were all stat-based games involving dice or some other way of determining random numbers to come up with realistic results. But it’s all about strategy, and you, as the game player, are the manager or coach.

My brother and I introduced these games to our nephew, and so we’ve discovered a renaissance of these games. Although they’ve been out of production for years by their original manufacturers, there are plenty of folks out there who have been making the games and teams and players — and selling their wares on-line. I’ve even re-created a few Paydirt team sheets, myself — and given them to the Hendersons as birthday gifts. And my brother, in his teens, once re-created the entire 1930 National League baseball season, figuring out the algorhythms and making stat cards for each player. No, he didn’t date much — how could you tell?

P.S. Mental Floss: We’re also big fans of that magazine. My wife and I have given subscriptions to my brother’s and sisters’s households as birthday presents for the last three years. My only complaint: MF doesn’t publish issues nearly often enough.

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Tom Jackson October 15, 2007 at 8:26 am

Oh, yeah, first record: 45-wise, it was the Beatles single with Lady Madonna on one side, The Inner Light on the other. Loved the B side best — I’ve always loved the Indian influence on the Beatles, something I’ve passed on to my son, who already plays a passable Norwegian Wood on his new sitar.

First album, all my own: Let It Be.

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Julie Ann Shapiro October 15, 2007 at 8:35 am

When I was a kid I had a bedtime story that about soap people. Every night Mom and I would add installments to it and sadly not a single piece of it was ever written. One day I hope to find the soap people again.

My friends Tommy and Scott and I used to play king of the mountain on a dirt hill near where a construction crew was building houses. I don’t remember the rules just who got to the top of the mountain was king and the others were the subjects, kind of lame sounding now. I also played cops and Indians but that angered me as I lived in Arizona for a time and didn’t like how Scott and Tommy always had the Indians die when I saw them in town selling beautiful handsewn dolls.

I made mudpies with friends that we served to our Barbie dolls and played mermaid in the swimming pool, not at the same time. I loved playing Marco Pollo too and dreaming of being a water princess. Lots of summer flew by in the water.

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Tom Jackson October 15, 2007 at 8:40 am

Oh, yeah, forgot candy, too: I’ve always loved Three Musketeers. They were always the biggest, and I loved the white wrapper with the blue and red (3Ms didn’t get the silvery wrappers until later). Oh, and M&Ms. Always, M&Ms, right after the Three Musketeers. Preferably plain, but I’d eat peanut, too.

Once Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups came out, they rose on the favorite list, too.

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David Niall Wilson October 15, 2007 at 9:08 am

Tom, I didn’t have that baseball game, but I did have the original vibrating football game with the little plastic men you lined up…turned it on…and watched skitter across the board. For an ill-conceived game, that sucker is still in production. Also loved Spirograph.

DNW

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Tom Jackson October 15, 2007 at 9:15 am

Ah, yes, electric football. We had that, too, but it wasn’t realistic enough. We played sports two ways: Outside (sandlot, street or schoolyard) or in board game form. We could recreate Major League Baseball outside by playing Wiffleball. Play a hypothetical World Series between the 1978 Red Sox and Dodgers, for example. We’d bat right- or lefthanded, depending on the batting order of each team. (Of course, we couldn’t throw lefty, so we’d just, um, “pretend” when we pitched as Bill “Spaceman” Lee.)

Spyrograph was great, too! We just got one of those for our 4-year-old niece. She loves it!

Modeling clay was a favorite. It never hardened beyond redemption.

Oh, and when we were REALLY young: The Fisher Price Little People — remember the guys without arms or legs? We LOVED those — and we passed them along to cousins after we started playing the board games.

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doug October 15, 2007 at 9:26 am

in first grade i was described as a nice looking boy with an awkward gait who fell out of his chair quite frequently. and one school therapist said, “he’s a bit of a loner.” at seven my best friend was a three year old. i preferred to entertain myself with made up games. my favorite was bed of spikes. i would stick tooth picks into the rug and drop my gi joes into the pit, and determine whether they survived the fall or not. care bears, my little pony’s and strawberry shortcakees were my toys of choice. my parents didn’t mind, which makes me smile now. i would pull the tail off the pony’s and fill them with water, then squeeze. a watergun, but funnier b/c the water shot of the butt. watermelon taffy and m’s were my favorite treats. and the new kids on the block kept me hangin’ tough, oh oooh oh oh oh!!! i had a giant jordan knight pin and lots of posters. my parents didn’t mind this either. again, i smile.

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Kimberly October 15, 2007 at 9:28 am

Two words: Drama Queen.

I was in front of an audience (real or imaginary) my entire childhood. I would make up plays and perform them to no one in particular if I couldn’t find someone related to me to force into watching. I would sing, loudly, at all times of the day (much to may parents’ chagrin) – like the time I first went to the Pizza Hut bathroom by myself (5 years old) and came back caterwauling “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh What a Relief It Is!”

I read loads of books: Nancy Drew, Judy Blume, Madeline L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder and my mother’s Reader’s Digest Junior Classics were my closest friends – as were her outdated 1950s encyclopedias. (I still have a thing for the way old books smell.) I read Shakespeare and the classic Greek plays and Williams and Stravinsky and Strindberg. Total and complete drama nerd.

I loved Schoolhouse Rock and Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo and when I got older, playing with boys – but not in THAT way – I rode bikes and made forts and wiped out on skateboards and snuck whiskey from Mark Frahn’s dad’s bar (he had a REAL bar in his house!) while listening to “Dream of the Blue Turtles” and remarking over how ‘deep’ “Russians” was. To this day, I think of him every time I hear that song.

My first album was John Denver and the Muppet’s Christmas Album (closet John Denver fan here) but what was the coolest thing about my record collection (if you could call it that – early titles included Air Supply and Barbra Striesand hand-me-downs from my mom) was my DONNIE AND MARIE ALBUM BOX!

Now you’re all jealous, aren’t you???

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David Niall Wilson October 15, 2007 at 9:38 am

Tom! Okay, now I DO feel old. The 78 teams … they played when I was already in the US Navy – I joined in 1977 two weeks out of high school!

DNW

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Oronte Churm October 15, 2007 at 9:48 am

After watching the Disney movie _Charlie the Lonesome Cougar_, I pretended to be a cougar on the playground for several weeks, enlisting my friends to play supporting roles, until one day the very practical Jane Columbo looked at all of us growling and yowling and said, “You guys are weird.” I pretended to swipe her with my enormous claws, but it was pretty much over.

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Robin Slick October 15, 2007 at 9:58 am

When I was growing up back in the dark ages before computers we relied on our imaginations. I so relate to Shelley’s comments and could probably type seventeen chapters about some of the stuff we came up with. Our parents would say to us “Go outside and play and don’t come back until it’s dinnertime.” Did this just happen in my neighborhood?

I doubt it. We’re talking about the sixties and our mothers were for the most part home and wanted us out of their hair so they could clean the house and watch their soap operas in peace.

This was great because that was exactly what we wanted, too – freedom from our parents. We amused ourselves all day out there and could spend hours playing with things as basic as sticks and stones. Oh god, once we even spent weeks panning for gold in a half-dried up creek in downtown Philadelphia with one of my mom’s colanders because we found a rock with an extraordinary amount of mica flecks. We were going to be rich and buy mansions for all of our friends! (Oh, and I was “Vicky” and my 3 years younger sister Joan was “Doris”. When my mother made us clean our shared bedroom, we pretended we were really hip city women re-decorating our new apartment. “Doris,” I’d say. “Do we really need all of those Barbie dolls and ballet posters everywhere?” “Yes, Vicky,” she replied. “Otherwise when people come to visit and they see your guitar and rock collection, they will think a boy lives here.” We were Vicky and Doris for probably three years as pre-teens)

We played board games like Clue until I figured out how to cheat and win so no one would play with me…we also loved Mystery Date but I swear, I always got stuck with Poindexter. It became a running joke.

Sigh…back then we still had penny candy and Mom and Pop corner stores stocked with wax lips, candy cigarettes (my personal favorite and not because they tasted good because they didn’t – but I thought I looked so cool with one hanging from my mouth at age 10), candy buttons, Turkish taffy, Klein’s lunch bars…and we’d wash it all down with Fizzies or those little wax soda pop bottles filled with alleged fruit juice.

First record? A Hard Days Night by the Beatles. My father the jazz musician refused to allow rock into the house so it wasn’t until I was old enough to baby sit and save my money that I could buy my own music and by then there were so many Beatle albums to choose from I was totally freaked out…I remember standing in the record store clutching my life savings of $3.99 (yeah) trying to make what I thought was the most important decision in my life.

Err…you wanted us to sum this up quickly, didn’t you. Ha ha – you should know better than to ask writers to do that, Susan. But at least I followed the guidelines in your question and checked for typos.

Your boys are amazing! I so wish I could have been at the show last night. Any You Tubes on the horizon? Heh…I had to stand in many a line in sub-zero weather during my Rock School days also feeling like a twit with other parents and so, so identified with Mr. H’s Barry Manilow remark…but I paid my dues and now walk around like a big shot with my VIP backstage passes. So at least you know that’s in your future…

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Betsy October 15, 2007 at 9:58 am

Games: I did play a lot of games, but I was a REALLY bad loser. Masterpiece was a favorite!
Toys: Little Kiddles, Flatsys
Candy: Pixy Stix, Lik-m-aid
First records: I bought two forty-fives in 5th grade – Yes We Can Can by the Pointer Sisters and Touch Me in the Morning by Diana Ross.
Not a super cool kid.

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Jessica Keener October 15, 2007 at 10:40 am

Susan, fun question!
Robin, what are you, my lost identical twin? Me and a trillion other boomers also loved those waxy, chewable lips and candy cigarettes (a great way to practice before the real thing). My true favorite candy, though, was Bazooka bubble gum with the comics and the little sayings. Growing up, I spent hours in the neighborhood untethered by adult eyes. A few mothers (not mine) used cowbells to call in their kids for dinner. We played seriously long games of hide and seek where we used our neighbor’s large yard for hiding. Like Daryl, we also played a lot of war. We didn’t use plastic guns we had something better: sticks and rocks (for grenades). We played in the woods behind my house.

Amy, at least you had do-gooder impulses. My friend and I started an astronomy club in fifth grade but our best intentions crumbled within hours. She had a cool toy made of plastic, with all nine planets (I know there are only EIGHT planets now), and a big yellow plastic sun. We were the only members. We had one official meeting at her house after school that ended in a fight because my friend insisted on opening the meeting by reciting Latin from her Christian bible. As a Jew, I couldn’t relate. So the club broke up (or broke down).

Trolls! I had a fetish for those little palm-sized dolls with long, silken hair that came in bright colors like pink and aqua. I made beds for them out of cardboard and Kleenex. I also rode my bike, often pretending it was a horse and I was either a circus or rodeo girl performing tricks, riding side saddle, no hands, sticking my leg out, etc. I had a skateboard at a time before the wheels could actually turn. We just went straight down the hill from our house. Mostly, the street was our playground. We played kickball, touch football and baseball. The first 45 record I bought was not until junior high and may have been Turn Turn Turn, a song re-recorded by the Byrds. Ok. I’ll shut up now. Happy B-day, Lance from a fellow Libran. Jessica

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Jonathan Evison October 15, 2007 at 11:04 am

. . . in winter, the koura’s frozen pond was a reliable source of amusement . . . we used to play this game where one guy would station himself on either edge of the pond, and one guy would ride his dirt bike across the middle, and the guys on either side would slide a giant pipe-wrench back and forth and try to knock the kid on his ass . . . good stuff . . .

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Debbie Ann October 15, 2007 at 11:21 am

First I have to say, once again, re–the boys–OH. MY. GOD.

they are just too cute for words.

Ok.

I forgot the question. Games? Hmmm. I was rarely indoors.

I was in cutoffs, T-shirt most of my wee days. I disappeared in a boat with a ten horse power motor, mostly just around the rivers and thousands of small creeks. My favorite island had a rope swing and we all swung from the tree way out into the river.

We sometimes were chased by other boys or teens in the tributaries. It never occurred to us that maybe they were mean and if they caught us something bad would happen. They never caught me. I could lose anyone in the water fast. Same for the backwoods. You simply could not catch me.

We found coins in the dirt and went to this run down shack that sold molded food, eggs that floated in these large jars and candy. Some us stole the candy, some paid for it. Mr. Blisset owned the store. He was this big man with a belly and strange eyes and if you took gum, he would grab you from behind. I was lithe and agile. He never got me.
But he got a few of my friends.

Sometimes when the sun was unbearably angry, we would go to Barbees pavilion and sip a coke and gaze over the edge down into this mud corral where Mr. Barbee kept all these turtles, millions, and millions, all crawling over each other. Mr. Barbee made homemade turtle soup. We never ate it. We could not imagine how he chopped off their heads. But the thought of him looming over a turtle’s carapace with a hatchet? Made us lose our appetite.

I liked malted chocolate balls the best. And gum. But I ate a lot of fruit for some reason. I would take an apple over candy and I don’t know why. No one told me to.

I am not sure my mother knew where I was half the time. I came in at dinner because I was hungry.

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Gail Siegel October 15, 2007 at 11:36 am

Since I’m Robin’s contemporary—maybe I’m a bit older–my childhood had a similar tone. Plus I played bombardment in the street with the Rubin boys, ate candy necklaces and dots (those colored bits on strips of paper).

For 7 summers, I went to a 2-month overnight camp in Wisconsin’s north woods, so I also played jacks endlessly, and Chinese checkers, and cards: fish, spite and malice, and war. I read reams of Archie comics and many linear feet of books lining the Rec Hall walls, from Nancy Drew to Ozma of Oz. I swam, rode horses (Western), canoed, skied, played tennis, etc, and filled in the dead time with ping-pong. I still have a mean serve but could never beat Melinda Marcus.

I never thought of myself as an athlete, and my kids would argue that I’m not. Yet every summer I was, eclipsing games and toys. I had a Barbie, but I didn’t much like her, or understand how to play with her; I chopped off her hair.

First records bought FOR me: The Chad Mitchell Trio. First concert: The Chad Mitchell Trio. First record I bought MYSELF, at a store on 87th Street: Meet the Beatles.

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Susan Henderson October 15, 2007 at 11:47 am

Ho man. That’s a lot of comments. I’m going to comment on every one of them tonight after I’ve made good progress on my book edits.

Real quick: Who’s going to see Kesey read at Happy Ending on Oct 24th? I’m planning to go but I need to find a sitter first because Mr. H will be in dress rehearsal.

Other thing: You have to see what Neil posted today. I laughed so hard!

(My favorite LUSH product is Karma.)

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Susanna Donato October 15, 2007 at 11:49 am

Barbie dolls. If you push their heads down on their necks, they look fatter and not so perfect (apparently, my body image issues do go back to the 1970s, but at least I was working to resolve them).

Lik’m Aid – pure sugar, on a sugar stick! Yum!

I would walk to the library with my best friend and bring home as many books as I could carry. Rinse and repeat. I loved a cheesy mystery called “The Blue Taper” — it was set in Louisiana and the heroine wore alligator shoes. I read it about 12 times.

I had roller skates that buckled onto my sneakers, with metal wheels, and the whole street could hear me coming. And Big Wheels. Sometimes we threw ourselves out of our babysitter’s tree, hoping to break an arm or better yet a leg so we could have crutches. I used to sit on the gymnastics bar of the jungle gym and fling myself backwards so I could flip around by my knees. I can’t believe I did that.

My first record was Journey “Frontiers.” My second was Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits. I *might* still remember all the words to “The Gambler.”

My dad had an old Underwood manual typewriter and I struggled on that thing (keys always jamming) to write stories and a newspaper about our block. The other keyboard where I spent time was pecking out songs from a folk-song book on a cheap electric organ that sat next to the typewriter.

And our yard was always full of plums.

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Carolyn Burns Bass October 15, 2007 at 12:21 pm

I’m there with Robin and Jessica–a boomer with a streak of the dramatic.

My first girly doll was a Chatty Cathy (seen her on Geico commercials lately?). I wasn’t much of a dolly girl, and I think it bothered my mom that I didn’t want to play with her after her talking string broke and Chatty Cathy was just a dumb doll. I got my first Barbie the next year and I still have her, although she looks like she’s been sexually abused. (Her pointy breasts are all crimped like someone tried to form nipples on the hard plastic tips. Ouch.) Still, I wasn’t much of a Barbie girl either.

One of my favorite Christmas presents was from my real dad (divorced parents) who got me an Incredible Edible machine that made icky gummy candy in insect and worm molds. Kind of the creepy version of the Easy Bake Oven. Every once in a while I will catch a scent of imitation watermelon or other fake flavors and recall the gooey, chewy taste of those Incredible Edible goobers.

My younger sister, Angie, and I used to have concerts in our driveway, with an upturned shipping crate for a stage and a coke-bottle mic. Our repertoire consisted of Beatles, Monkees, and Joan Baez.

We lived on the outskirts of town, among citrus groves and acres of nursery land. I loved the citrus groves best. We had rotten orange wars, created elaborate forest adventures, played hide-n-seek (or disappear and ditch).

The grove will be forever enshrined in my memory as the site of my first kiss with my sixth-grade boyfriend.

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Kaytie M. Lee October 15, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Like Shelly above, I did a lot of pretending and active imagining. Most of my memories are of outdoors, but living North of Seattle means there must have been winters I couldn’t go outside.

I liked to sing along with certain tapes while swinging. I had a Rainbow Brite tape I loved.

Lots of trips to the library, too.

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Betsy October 15, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Memories! Gail, I still eat candy necklaces any chance I get and I love the dots, paper bits and all. Will we meet at The Fixx? Susan, I won’t be at Happy Ending but my Happy Ending is that I’m reading here with Roy the very next day! Carolyn, I had forgotten about Chatty Cathy and Incredible Edibles! I did have a Beautiful Crissy though.

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Gail Siegel October 15, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Betsy, yes, we WILL meet at The Fixx. I’ve already missed too many of your readings (and Ben’s shows).

See you soon.

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Robin Slick October 15, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Oh great, now I get to see what Neil’s bathtub looks like — with bubbles yet — and now I’m gonna be torturing myself with that fantasy…

Thanks, Neil (and Susan). You’re a real pal.

(And then he has the nerve to follow up that post with a truly wonderful one about writing as if I could really concentrate on anything but Neil and his tub…)

Oh I’m just kidding.

Hi, Jessica! – Yeah, I think we’ve already established that we are twin daughters of different mothers…and Susan I’m pretty sure is our disgustingly younger supermodel sister.

xo

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Jason Boog October 15, 2007 at 3:14 pm

We had this fabulous two-story clubhouse that my dad built, and I invented a game called Man-Eating Piranha. The gist was that all the kids on the top of the clubhouse were scientists stuck on a boat surrounded by man eating piranhas, a role played by the kids lurking underneath the clubhouse.

In a sort of souped-up tag, the scientists needed to escape the clubhouse and touch safe without being tagged by the piranhas. That game, I’m proud to say, had enough imaginative and narrative content to sustain us for something like five summers in a row. Very happy memory, thanks for bringing it up, Susan!

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Claudia October 15, 2007 at 3:14 pm

Candy – pop rocks, the kind that fizzed in your mouth, pixie sticks, and hard rock candy discovered when we drove through Colonial Willamsburg…also brownies baked in a neighbors Easy-Bake oven, soft and chewy and really small, and that very hard to chew cheap bubble gum that came with a joke, Bazooka Joe

Games – Lots of games with my little brother, involving orphans and orphan trains. We were afraid of the rats that moved into our house after they cleaned up the illegal dump next door, and told each other stories about Nazrat (Tarzan spelled backwards) who was a boy who lived with the rats and could compress his body they way rats could, who crawled through pipes and toilets and was sort of a dark protector/messed up rat-boy dude.

-Toys – The Sunshine Family, Holly Hobby, our Stretch Monster who always leaked but we tended to tenderly, the snow world we wanted so desperately from Star Wars that our father decided to create from chicken wire and plaster (it wasn’t as good as the Toys-R-Us version)…
those dolls’s heads on plates with all the cosmetics gave me the creeps.

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Aimee October 15, 2007 at 4:45 pm

Just like everyone I was more a fan of books than anything. But I really liked Cabbage Patch Kids, my Lego set, and my red kick ball. I also loved to bike ride on my Schwinn. I lived mostly in my imagination and if not I was swimming or bike riding. I did have a dinosaur transformer. I was amazed at the ability to transform, I think. Not so much the show or the fighting or anything.
I was only allowed candy on holidays. But my Father would sneak me Big League Chew and fire balls. We used to see who was tough enough to keep the fire ball in our mouth the whole time.
My first tape, as I was a part of that very brief tape generation, was New Edition. It had Mr. Telephone Man and Cool It Now on it. I think I made everyone crazy playing it over and over.

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Michael D. Williams October 15, 2007 at 5:11 pm

Atari at home. Galaga at the 7-11 down the street. the little handheld football games with the little red lights that showed where you were on the field. We played a lot of football in the street at the side of my house and wiffle ball. Crunch bars were my favorite and chick o sticks. Willie Nelson Greatest hits and some that will be, I’ve had the album a cassette and CD and it gets a lot of play on the Ipod.

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James Spring October 15, 2007 at 6:10 pm

I was a Lego architect during my formative years – the Howard Roark of plastic blocks. I had an erector set, too, and it had motors and pulleys and lights. I used to mix the sets and construct mechanical things like lighthouses and windmills.

My mother was so proud of me then.

And so disappointed now.

Betsy’s going to NYC now?

I suddenly find that her happiness and fulfillment leave me feeling very empty…

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Daryl October 15, 2007 at 6:29 pm

oh yeah, first record? FLOWERS by The Rolling Stones. my dad also bought me the 45 single of “Light My Fire” by the doors.

we also used to leave the house after cereal for breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday morning and go out on all day bike trips. we’d ride our Schwinn Stingrays 10 miles across town to get to the highest, steepest streets in town just so that we could coast to the bottom. bike helmets? we didn’t need no stinking bike helmets!

🙂

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Lizzy October 15, 2007 at 7:32 pm

I had a Furby. My first CD (yes, a CD) was “So Real” by Mandy Moore. (She isn’t actually bad anymore.) My sister and I bought the first Britney Spears CD and pretended to act like her. I read all the “Baby Sitters Club” and “Baby Sitters Little Sister” books. My sister and I constantly argued about whether the yellow Power Ranger was a girl or a boy. (I wore a pink power ranger bodysuit for my fourth birthday.) I had three (yes, three) tomagotchis. I collected Beanie Babies. I actually never got into the Spice Girls, for some reason. I think most of my friends did, but I didn’t. I remember once in first grade, a bunch of my friends and I brought in our little monkeys that had hands and feet that velcroed together and linked them all together and ran around connected. It wasn’t easy.

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Lizzy October 15, 2007 at 7:34 pm

oh, and I constantly watched “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” even though it scared the living daylights out of me. I loved it!

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Sarah Bain October 15, 2007 at 7:36 pm

Oh god,

Memory, all alone in the moonlight
I can dream of the old days
Life was beautiful then…

Okay, Barbra wasn’t my first album…Captain and Tennille was. “Love Will Keep us Together.” I listened faithfully to the station every week that played “Love Songs on the Coast.” Oh god, I was the perfect candidate for all songs gone bad. Our high school graduation theme song was Styx, “Sailing Away.” Oh, if only I could go back!

Games — Spent our summers at the beach when we were dropped off at 9 a.m. and picked up at 5:30 by our parents on their way to work. We spent our days (me and my best friend) from age 9 on, oogling at the lifeguards and walking back and forth between the bay side and the ocean in Newport Beach, CA. Apparently, you can’t drop your kids off any more. When at home, we played school in the attic, I skateboarded with Randy and Pam Redmond and we played kick the can (really!).

Toys – Barbies (got the first Barbie Camping package); We had one of the first Hello Kitty stores open in US–yay, Hello, Kitty; Holly Hobby; Schwinn sting ray (think banana seats); think plastic, plastic, plastic.

Candy – Pop rocks; candy cigarettes (LOVED those); Tab (okay, not candy but…); pixie sticks; sugar daddies; yum!

Hmmm, I’m having flashbacks. Oh, we used to also blow up our neighbor’s mailboxes with firecrackers and who didn’t love ding dong ditch and toilet papering. We did major crank phone calls too, big time. How can a kid do that today with some many damn caller ids.

Oh, and today, I walked into Terry’s office with a film cansister in my hand (WHERE did that come from) and I asked him if no one buys film anymore, how do kids store their dope? Hmmmm…

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lance reynald October 15, 2007 at 7:55 pm

Sarah Bain!!!

I just blew a very insane amount of way late in the day coffee across my laptop…

LOVED all of it!!!

I never thought of TAB as candy… though there was this insane thing called Canfields Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda that I was known to sneak in the summer. Then I graduated to Jolt…which may have led…

film canister, eh? (small tin lemonheads lunchbox, double baggied in the freezer, did you know they make hello kitty ziplock bags?)

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Jordan E. Rosenfeld October 15, 2007 at 8:35 pm

The doll I will never forget, which is ironic in that I think I got it when I was about three, was called Dancerina. She was like a princess ballerina. Press her crown and she pivoted on her little pink plastic toe shoe. God I loved that doll.

As for games, the one that stands out the most and is slightly embarrassing is that my girlfriends Celia, Erin and Rachel and I played “Little Women” and I always had to play Meg, because I was the wimpy prissy one when in my heart I wanted to be the tough, cool Jo. We played at recess under the eucalyptus trees…

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Sarah Bain October 15, 2007 at 8:50 pm

WHERE can one get Hello Kitty ziplocs. Lance, I must look for those.

Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam, do the jitter bug out in in Muskrat land as they shimmy; Sam is so skinny…

Oh, and the head shops, gotta love those head shops in the 70s.

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Betsy October 15, 2007 at 9:20 pm

Spring, I just got back from NY. Nothing to feel empty about unless you like having to weave in and out of pedestrians. Am I bitter? Probably. But I like my sidewalks passable.
Don’t forget about the babies. You have lots of babies. I enjoy babies way nore than I enjoy NY.
Anyway, Kesey and I are reading here. Gail – alright!
Sarah – Captain and Tennille was among my early records as well.

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Susan Henderson October 15, 2007 at 9:25 pm

Wow, guys, I love love love having these snapshots of you as kids!

DNW – I absolutely remember Creepy Crawlers.

Jim – Love the cemetery story and the lint bubblegum.

Tom – Sports geek from the very very beginning. I love that you bought Z a sitar!

Julie – That construction site would make a good setting for a story.

Doug – Ha! I like the bed-of-spikes/Jordan-Knight combo!

Kimberly – I was totally and utterly in love with Pa Ingalls.

Oronte – Was that one of those narrated Disney live-action movies they ran on Sundays?

Robin – Have you read the David Sedaris story about how their mother would lock them out of the house all day? I love that you panned for gold! Is Turkish taffy the same as Turkish Delight? (Oh, and you can come to the next show. They’re doing The Who, and I know Bach-Boy has Baba O’Riley.)

Betsy – You are the only other person I’ve ever heard of who played Masterpiece! That’s the game where you buy paintings and some are forgeries, right? (I was a bad loser, too. If I saw it coming, I’d kick the pieces off the board.)

Okay, I better post this before my computer blinks out and I lose everything I typed.

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Susan Henderson October 15, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Jessica – Oh no, we use a cowbell to call our kids to dinner. Well, now we actually use this little Tibetan type bell we got in China. And when Green Hand is sick, he gets to ring the bell for service. (GREAT stories!)

Jonathan – Kind of a miracle you’re not frozen at the bottom of the pond!

Debbie – What an amazing amount of freedom you had! Can you imagine letting your kids take off unsupervised in a boat? Great stories, and I recognize the settings and the spunk from your fiction.

Gail – Ooh, I recognize the setting from your fiction, too! (Whenever I can’t sleep, I like to tap on Mr. Henderson and ask if he wants to play Chinese checkers. Mostly, it’s just fun to tap him and make him grumble.)

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Susan Henderson October 15, 2007 at 10:10 pm

Susanna – Ha! You are a great storyteller!

Carolyn – That’s the creepy crawler maker DNW was talking about! I still remember the smell.

Kaytie – I would like to hear you sing some Rainbow Brite songs. Writers Sing?

Betsy and Gail – I am so so jealous.

Robin – My mind was over at the bubble bath, too. And that is the most ridiculous, unwarranted compliment I’ve ever heard.

Jason – Wow, I would been at your house ALL the time!

Claudia – What I remember from colonial Williamsburg was they brushed their teeth with burnt toast. I love that you played orphan games, and I hope you write a story about that.

Aimee – Big League Chew was big in my neighborhood. And thanks a lot for getting that New Edition telephone song stuck in my head!

Michael – What is Galaga? You’ve stumped me.

James – Wow, who would have guessed you were so skilled back then? Also, when are you coming back to NY?

Daryl – While you were buying Rolling Stones, I was was buying Kiki Dee. I had the girl version of your bike, though.

Lizzy – Wait, I think someone around LitPark (unless it was one of Mr. H’s students) was the pink power ranger. Anyone want to fess up? And does ANYone want to fess up to being a Marky Mark back up dancer?

Sarah – You probably liked Kiki Dee, too. That is terrifying imagining dropping kids off at the beach all day. We are so different today. Funny about the film canister. Even kids who didn’t smoke would carry one so they looked like they did.

Lance – Eew, that fudge soda was so gross! But creme soda was awesome.

Jordan – Yay, you’re here. So funny about wanting to be Jo. Mr. H, his brother, and their neighbors used to pretend they were in episodes of that live-action Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn show. Mr. H. was always the Special Guest.

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Tom Jackson October 15, 2007 at 11:38 pm

Z bought the sitar for himself. Detassled corn all summer just to do it. I’m just shuttling him to his lessons — in Peoria and in Oak Park (right by Chicago). I sit there, listening to him and Jeta (Peoria teacher, a lovely Indian woman who gave us cake to celebrate the Hindu god Ganesh’s birthday a few weeks back; it was wonderful, and we thought it was some Indian delicacy, but it turned out to be thawed Pepperidge Farm). Z’s started learning his first raga. It’s so cool, so hypnotic sounding. And his fingers aren’t bleeding anymore — got the calluses going.

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Sarah Bain October 16, 2007 at 2:14 am

Oh, it’s one big lovefest around here:

“Don’t go breaking my heart…”

And I’m certain I couldn’t have been the only one in high school to watch Luke and Laura get married while listening this man. Who isn’t having heart palpitations now?

Jessie’s Girl

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Nathalie October 16, 2007 at 7:21 am

Games ?
I grew up mostly on my own so if games were played at home they had to be solitary. Hence the extensive reading, painting and story telling (to my teddy bears) – later writing. By way of compensating for such quiet past times, at school I was a real tomboy and a chatter box.

I was never too fond of sweet things although I recall with some fondness some guimauve bears covered in milk chocolate (I got some last year of so and found them extremely yucky).
I do recall however stealing coins from my parents to buy some candy for friends at school (that around eight, I think). Naughty ? I must have had that thing for Robin Hood already…

My first record ever was Peter and the Wolf (I think the narrator was Gerard Philippe).

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Susan Henderson October 16, 2007 at 7:28 am

Tom – Who knew there were corn detasslers? I’ll bet he’s the only corn detassler to then go out and buy a sitar.

Sarah – He never gave me heart palpitations.

Nathalie – I love Peter and the Wolf!

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Susan Henderson October 16, 2007 at 4:38 pm

Guys, sorry LitPark was down today. There have been issues with the host site, VistaPages. Supposedly, those issues are over now and won’t be a regular happening anymore.

Love Tommy’s drawing today, and I hope you’ll head over there and have a look.

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Michael D. Williams October 16, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Galaga was a coin op video game like space invaders but the bad guys flew around and you shot as many as you could before they shot you. I would play it today if I could find one……

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Betsy October 16, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Susan, yes, that’s the game! Anyway, I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only bad loser… I’ve gotten over it. We play games all the time now! Squabble!

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noria October 16, 2007 at 6:51 pm

I liked Barbies. My mother was initially opposed to them and the absurd standard of beauty they set, but she gave in and let me buy the cool old vintage Barbies and their amazing clothes at yard sales and flea markets. I didn’t like to have them hop around and talk to each other. No, I liked to create tableaux.

And though my mother tried to protect me from the evil Barbie might inflict on my body image, she botched that up royally by paying me to lose weight. When I was nine. And with that money I bought my first record: the Grease soundtrack.

I used to play Grease with my friends, acting out the parts and inventing new scenarios, and of course I never got to be Sandy, or even Rizzo. Maybe I’d get to be Frenchie, but mostly I was Jan, the lesser Pink Lady whose only memorable scene is when she imitates the cartoon chipmunk in a toothpaste commercial.

I was never fond of sweets. I was more of a nacho cheese chips (totally forbidden in my hippie household, unless the grown-ups had the munchies) or Corn Nuts kind of girl.

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Susan Henderson October 16, 2007 at 6:53 pm

Michael – I might be the only one of my generation who’s never played (or even seen) Space Invaders. But I’m really competitive at Pac Man.

Betsy – I do very exaggerated trash talking when I play board games with the boys, and then I do the mommy thing and let them think they beat me while I was trying my hardest.

Noria – We are going to eat some Corn Nuts together one of these days! P.S. I tried to protect my kids from evil cultural influences during their early years, and I think some day soon, I’ll tell a story about how that went.

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Jessica October 16, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Susan,

No worries about the cow bell! We all loved it. In fact I wished my parents used one. My neighbor’s bell rang far and wide like a church bell calling the holy ones back to the temple. Each girl in that family (there were three daughters) got a certain number of rings–one, two or three. When the parents wanted everyone home, they rang it five times, paused and then rang it five times again.

So, ring away!

Jessica

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Shelley Marlow October 16, 2007 at 8:06 pm

Thank you, Susan, Robin, Daryl, and Kaytie! This is a very inspiring place. Robin, was Poindexter the cute beatnik in Mystery Date?

I have to go take a tall bubble bath now, grrr.

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Susan Henderson October 16, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Shelley – Ha! Yeah, how many of us took bubble baths yesterday, just cause we got bubble baths on the brain? Me! Also: Mystery Date was a cool game.

Happy birthday, Lance!!!

Also – A cool Lance discovery called Moleskine city. Here’s the “About us” summary, and then you can check it out in depth over here:

the project

This blog and the related cityblogs are new meeting places, wanted by Moleskine our best consultants and friends, and open to free participation

They are connected to the City Notebooks, the first guide you write yourself.
The blogs are dedicated to the city, its travellers, residents and independent and free thinking people.

Each city blog features updates, curiosities, traveller experiences and links to other blogs and communities.

We want you to join us, know your personal points of view, exchange information, discover your urban paths, your interests, your itineraries.

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Robin Slick October 16, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Ha ha, no, Shelley, Poindexter was the dud nerd though by today’s standards, he’d be a hipster with his weird hair and black glasses. I would have loved a cute beatnik – in fact, I still go for that type. But I always got Poindexter and it was the family joke…probably the penance I had to pay for cheating at Clue.

Here’s a great You Tube on the subject…Susan, maybe you can embed this but if not, I’ll also provide the link. And Happy Birthday, Lance! Moleskin City is awesome…and I am a huge moleskin fan so I need to check it out further because…sigh…I do not have enough to do. Oy.

Mystery Date.

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Robin Slick October 16, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Oh my god, this makes me feel like I’m 100 years old, but I can’t believe it, I just found the original Mystery Date commercial from the sixties.

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Shelley Marlow October 16, 2007 at 9:39 pm

These are wonderful links, Robin.Heh heh, excellent!

I think I knew I wanted to be with a girl even then while playing mystery date. Maybe someone will make a new bisexual version of Mystery Date.

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Susan Henderson October 16, 2007 at 9:44 pm

Robin – That commercial is so funny!

Shelley – I think you should suggest that idea to the guest Lance is interviewing at midnight because he also creates games for places like Starbucks.

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lance reynald October 16, 2007 at 10:20 pm

Shelley- it’s all a matter of how much red wine is on hand when playing Twister.

(crap…did I just say that out loud)

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Shelley Marlow October 16, 2007 at 11:17 pm

Or with how much of a Twist you play Spin the Bottle with, Lance! 😉

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Robin Slick October 17, 2007 at 7:39 am

Actually, the idea of a gay Mystery Date game is brilliant. To whom do we pitch this idea, Shelley?

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Tom Jackson October 17, 2007 at 7:54 am

Unless they grow corn in New Dehli, you’re probably right. In fact, the guy who runs the summer detassling business is a teacher and baseball coach at LeRoy High School, and when he heard Zach’s intent with his paycheck, he kept referring to it as a “guitar.” In fact, most people in LeRoy seem to have the inability to put an “s” in front of the “itar” when Zach describes why he’s carrying around that really huge pink case containing that 17-string instrument. You’ve been here before, so I’m sure you’re not that surprised.

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Aurelio O'Brien October 17, 2007 at 10:42 am

Sorry I’m so late into this discussion – I couldn’t get on LitPark the past couple of days for some reason.

My folks never bought us games. To cheap. They’d give us blank paper and make us entertain ourselves by drawing. We’d play the scribble game: one person makes a scribble, the other has to turn it into something.

Later I was able to get paid for this.

My friend next door had cool parents who bought him everything, so we played Mouse Trap, LIFE, and Operation. He also had Vaccuforms and a Creepy Crawler set, then he got Incredible Edibles, which was just like Creepy Crawlers, but you could eat them. They tasted rank though.

I liked sour and hot candies: Sweet Tarts, Pixie Sticks, stuff like that. I liked to fill my mouth with a whole box of Red Hots to feel it burn and ooze red. And I liked Hot Tamales (a weird gummy worm thing coated in Red Hot candy coating – do they still make those?)

My favorite record was The Flintstones. There were a couple of whole show sound tracks and several songs. Also The Smothers Brothers.

Most of my time was spent building forts and digging holes. We were always digging holes for some reason.

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Terry Bain October 17, 2007 at 12:19 pm

What games did you play? >>

My favorite game, by far, was red rover, for reasons I don’t quite remember. We also played kickball, wallball, and four square. Though if we’re talking about board games, I would have to say Monopoly.

What toys did you play with? >>
Evel Knievel toys. All the damn time. (I sometimes wonder if I still live in Spokane because I have the belief that Evel might start hanging out here again.)

What kind of candy did you eat? >>
My grandfather used to get this big block of black licorice from work, and it came with a little miner’s pick, and you had to pick pieces of licorice off the block. I loved that stuff. Also lemon drops.

What was your first record (okay, CD for the true kiddos)?>>
I don’t remember my first 45 because I had an uncle who worked for a juke box rental company, and he gave us dozens every Christmas, but I do remember the first 45 I purchased was “Love Is Like Oxygen” by Sweet (mp3. I think my first album was News of the World. Though it may indeed have been Double Platinum.

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Susan Henderson October 17, 2007 at 2:15 pm

Terry – Sweet! I love that song!

Okay, folks, I’m moving on to the Stusser interview thread because I’m not good at juggling or multi-tasking. See you over there! xo

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Betsy October 17, 2007 at 5:58 pm

Susan, you are too cute. Oh my god Mystery Date. I always got the dud too.

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Darrin October 18, 2007 at 5:32 pm

Your sons are rock stars! How cool!

Like James, I was always rustling around piles of legos to find that right piece. Sometimes I didn’t always build stuff with them, though. My brother and I would each stand at an end of the hallway and chuck one of the large rubber lego wheels at the other in an attempt to get it past and score a goal. And that’s how all those black scuff marks got on the hallway, Mom…

When we got sick of collecting baseball cards, we dumped them in a pile, got into a running start, and slid on them in the same hallway. When we started collecting them again, we lamented the fact that many of them had creased-up “heel marks.” And then we’d slide on them again. Damn, every child should have a hallway.

Of course, a little floor space was all I needed to play the living crap out of seven Atari 2600 cartridges on a black & white TV. I was intrigued when I went over a friend’s house and saw that the Pac Man ghosts were actually all different colors.

Catching frogs was one of my hobbies, I think. I didn’t know what to do with ’em once caught, so I just let them hop away. It’s a cool, tickly feeling when the frog hops out. Maybe that’s why I caught them.

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Susan Henderson October 18, 2007 at 9:11 pm

Betsy – xo

Darrin – You have been AWOL! I know that Lego rustling sound very well. And what a fun hallway you had!

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