Sunday, November 01, 2009

Arnold Fine

I Remember When:
Posted Oct 24 2003

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could close our eyes for just a moment and think about all the things we had when we were kids, before today's generation became hypnotized with staring at computer screens, tv screens, and virtual arcade games?

I keep wondering what today's youngsters would do for fun if Con-Edison ever went out of business. Can't you see our grandchildren years from now asking, "Grandpa, what did you do when you were my age?"

And can't you hear sweet old Grandma's answer, "Oh, darling, Grandpa was a Super Nintendo champ!!"

Och un vay tzu meine yuren!

What ever happened to running around, climbing rocks, shooting marbles, and exploring dark alleyways?

Remember, when the summer came and there were practically no cars in the street? We would sit on the curb or on the stoop with our friends as it got dark outside.

In our day, we didn't have anything that ran on batteries or electricity. True, some rich kids had electric trains, but mostly, we used ingenuity for fun.

You all remember Hide and Seek. One kid was declared "it." He had to hide his eyes with his arm leaning against the wall and count to one hundred. The rest of the kids would run and hide. Then the kid who was "it" had to locate the other kids. If he spotted some kid sticking his head out from behind a garbage can or car, he would shout, "Howie behind the car ..."
and run back to "home base" and say, "Howie one-two-three!"

That meant Howie was out of the game. This went on until the kid who was "it" located all the other kids. Then another kid was chosen to be "it." A good game of Hide-and-Seek could go on for at least an hour - all without batteries! And look at the exercise we got! Who ever heard of fancy gym equipment to run and jump!

And speaking of exercise, I wonder how many can still remember the "Hula Hoop" craze? That was the time we all had waists that we could wiggle, remember? If we tried it today, we
would land up at the physiatrist's office!

I'll bet there are more than a dozen grandmothers out there who, when they were young, "Hula Hooped" with the best of them.

How about "Simon Says"? One kid stood out in front and he was called "Simon." He would say, "Simon says, touch your nose!" He would demonstrate touching his nose. And you had to
touch your nose. But if he simply said, "Touch your foot," and you leaned over to touch your foot without him saying "Simon Says," you were out! Again, it was a simple game. It taught you to listen.

We played so many wonderful games. Everyone remembers "Hop Scotch," "Ringaleeveo," and box ball. And remember how the girls were the champion "Jacks" players? I wrote about that a short time ago, and flooded with letters from readers who told me they still play "Jacks" with their grandchildren!

In our day, they had so many wonderful children's programs. Some of our readers wrote in and reminded me about some of the shows like the Mickey Mouse Club, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Kookla, Fran & Ollie. Do you know that for years my kids thought that "Kookla, Fran and Ollie" was a Jewish show. My son kept calling it "Kukla, Fran and Molly"!

Remember the sunflower seeds or Indian Nuts we used to take with us to the movies? We would sit through a double feature, three cartoons, a chapter, and a Charlie Chaplin
comedy - all for 10 cents!

My mother used to tell us when she went to the movies in her day, it was only five cents!

Look, how could you be so lucky?

Remember the standard equipment we had to take to school when we were kids? Remember those little rectangular lunch boxes that came complete with a thermos? During Passover, when Mama didn't want us to buy drinks in school, she would give us a thermos of seltzer. As we unscrewed the lid, it started to fire like a Howitzer, soaking the teacher, our books, and all the plants on the window sill!

Mama never bought chocolate milk for the house. But, shtiller heit (very secretly) we would buy chocolate milk in school. For us, that was forbidden fruit!

Remember when Bobby Pins were the big "cosmetic" item? By the way, you know who invented them? A policeman in London! London police are called Bobbys. Today, the only place you can find them for free is in a shul when somebody is having a Bar Mitzvah. We use them to hold our yarmulkes on our heads when it gets windy outside.

Oh, do you remember what gave us prestige when we were little kids - going to the candy store and standing in front of the display counter where the candy store lady kept all the one
cent candies.

When my sisters went to the candy store, you would swear they were buying real estate. All we had was a penny between the three of us. We stood in front of that counter while the candy store lady, dear Mrs. Berris, patiently waiting for my sister's big order. It was usually something she could share with the rest of us, like a piece of licorice.

Like I just said, we had so many wonderful games that worked without electricity and batteries. Instead of staring at screens, we talked to each other. Instead of running on treadmills, we ran around the block. Instead of exercising our fingers and getting eyestrain, we jumped around with all our might. And you know, with all those newfangled electronic games, those poor kids don't even have a chance to do what we used to do all day.... yell and laugh! Takeh, how can you give a good, healthy holler when you're silently scrunched over a

Listen, it's a new world!

More Articles By Arnold Fine

Arnold Fine, a fine American writer, much of his writing can still be found on the Internet where many of his best works have been floating around the world for years, often to be found as writer unknown; even in the United States, his name may well be unfamiliar to most Americans, though there are thousands of devoted fans to his many stories. He was the senior news editor of The Jewish Press for more than 50 years. At the same time he was coordinator of special education at a high school in Brooklyn, teaching handicapped and brain-injured children. Since his retirement from the city school system, he has worked as an adjunct professor at Kingsborough Community College. He was nominated twice as the "Teacher of the Year" in New York State. It seems, however, Arnold Fine will be remembered more as the excellent writer of nostalgia stories rather than the excellent teacher of special education. His short stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have been attracting some attention in several countries, including the U.S. In fact, I'm sure that many of the Chicken Soup readers have found his literary work quite interesting. three stories from the above-mentioned series: "The High School English Teacher" and "How David and Lily Got Together" from Chicken Soup for the Single's Soul (Florida: Health Communications, 1999) and "The Wallet" from Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul (1998).

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.
Carl G Jung


suZen said...

Wonderful look back at "yesteryear" when kids were kids and no screens in their lives, except the old back door screen door, eh? I often wonder about just what in the hell we are doing - or allowing the kids to do anymore. It sure isn't life as WE knew it, is it? I mourn for what they are missing, and more so for the fact that they don't even know what they are missing!

Say, Walt, could you possibly email me with that list of 100 things you posted a few days ago? I tried printing it out and couldn't. My email is - thanks so much! That list was absolutely awesome!

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