Play Dates

 An Oldie, but Goodie. Originally posted in July 2016….

Like most Baby Boomers, from the time school let out at the beginning of summer until I trudged the seven blocks back to school after Labor Day with my shiny new school supplies and my book bag left over from the previous year or handed down from my sister, I played outside.

After a breakfast of Frosted Flakes with bananas on top (as a wink and a nod towards actual nutrition), I put on my pedal pushers and my sleeveless plaid blouse, considered – then rejected – my flip-flops (then called thongs), and ran outside barefoot to my back patio.

“Eee-ah-kee, Kathy,” I yelled at the top of my lungs. This was my way of contacting my best neighborhood friend and inviting her to come out and play.

“Eee-ah-kee,” she would respond, and be over at my house in a heartbeat.

I don’t know what eee-ah-kee means or from whence it originated. We are not American Indian. It just became our cry for fellowship. There was, by the way, no need to holler, as my childhood friend was just a quick scamper past our garage and through Mrs. Benda’s garden. But holler, we did.

And play, we did. Games that called for imagination. Riding our bikes. Playing tag. Spying on the neighbors to the south. Playing with our Barbie dolls. Writing and performing plays in front of our patient mothers and neighbors. Occasionally stopping for a glass of Kool-Aid that was toxically loaded with red dye. Taking a break for a salami sandwich and milk. Finishing up quickly as I heard in the distance, “Eee-ah-kee, Kris.”

More call to play.

Baby Boomers everywhere recall these days with joyful nostalgia. Metal playground equipment that was scalding to the touch which didn’t stop us from using them. Merry-go-rounds that you took turns pushing as hard as you could. Mostly we stayed on, but sometimes someone fell off and required Mercurochrome and a band-aid. See? It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. We actually hurt ourselves. We had scabs to prove it. Mercurochrome, by the way, was banned by the FDA in 1998. It’s a wonder we’re still alive.

I often see postings on social media from fellow Baby Boomers recalling these simpler days. I know that our kids are safer now than we were. I don’t purport that we return to the days of riding bikes without helmets. But still, I don’t see scores of Baby Boomers wearing head gear caused by falling off a merry-go-round.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a link to an article from the reputable publication Psychology Today. This article, written by a smartypants as indicated by the fact that he has a Ph.D., reports that rates of depression and anxiety among young people are on the rise, and have been for several decades. He goes on to say that this psychological phenomenon appears to have nothing to do with the idea that our world is inherently more dangerous. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, World War II, and the ensuing years when we all thought we were going to be blasted to Kingdom Come by a nuclear bomb coming straight out of the Soviet Union, we were all still happy campers.

And the reason for the increase according to Dr. Peter Gray? Kids no longer have a sense of personal control over what is going to happen to them. The reason, he goes on to say, is that kids no longer play outside unwatched by any sort of parental figure. Instead, they have Play Dates. As a result, kids no longer solve their own problems. They don’t figure out how to fight their own battles. Instead, parents help their kids make decisions (when they’re not actually making the decisions for them). Parents are choosing their kids’ friends. Kids aren’t able to choose their own interests. Instead, they are put on soccer teams and into gymnastic classes. They must study, study, study because they have to get into the best schools and for heaven’s sake, they MUST go to college. As a result, they are spending more time than ever in school, and less time in free play with their friends.

I don’t know if Dr. Smartypants is right or not. My grandkids seem perfectly happy with their lives. But it does make me sort of sad that they haven’t the opportunity to experience summer in the same way that I did.

And, by the way, kids still drink red Kool-Aid, though I’m certain it’s made with safer coloring.

Here is a photo courtesy of a fellow grade school classmate who somehow had access to this permanent reminder of our youth. I am pretty sure I am the little girl with my back to the camera in the middle row, third from the right, uncharacteristically wearing my glasses. The top row features the women who served us every day at cafeteria. While they look wholly unpleasant (except for the woman on the far right who didn’t get the memo that she shouldn’t smile), I recall them actually being quite pleasant. Ah, sweet youth….

cafeteria line circa 1960 (2)

 

Fried Goodness

voo-doo-donut-boxI started working at my dad’s bakery when I was 14 years old. I reckon that’s about the same age as my siblings, all of whom worked for Dad for varying number of years. My brother will argue that he worked for Dad (unpaid) from the time he was 2. That in fact may be true. He was the only boy, after all, and so destined to be a baker, at least in my Dad’s eyes. Which, I might add, became true.

All this is to say that when I was 14 years old (hmmmm, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1967 or 1968), bread was 29 cents a loaf. But more to the point of this blog post, doughnuts (or D-O-N-U-T-S as they are now commonly spelled) were 65 cents a dozen. A DOZEN. The very best glazed doughnuts that you can imagine. Doughnuts that were so light they practically floated in the air according to one of my cousins who was well acquainted with the bakery.

I am quite familiar with inflation. Store-bought bread now costs somewhere between 3 and 4 dollars a loaf, and it isn’t even half as good as that my father made. But I also probably earned something like a buck fifty an hour. It’s called inflation, and it’s inevitable.

Still, it didn’t stop me from being shocked recently when I purchased doughnuts to treat a friend of mine. I had offered to bring breakfast or lunch to her house. She is going through chemotherapy, and so when she told me the one thing that sounded good was doughnuts, well, I was more than happy to comply. First (and I assure you, foremost) because I want to be a good friend, but second, because I LOVE DOUGHNUTS.

I always have; I always will. They are flat-out delicious.

Breakfast treats are cyclical. I remember when the whole bagel thing became, well, a thing. Bagel shops were popping up all over the place. Bagels are okay. In fact, I like a bagel about as much as I like any breakfast food. (Except now with my low-fiber diet, I can’t eat my favorite which is an Everything bagel. But I substitute Asiago, and it’s nearly as good.)

Then we went through a doughnut phase. Krispie Kremes were built all over Denver. There were lines like at an Adele concert to purchase these sweet treats at all hours of the day and night. After a couple of years, you could hear the sound of crickets chirping at the doughnut shops, and they began to close down. My dad would have said (and my brother would concur), “Good riddance to bad doughnuts.” He didn’t think much of Krispie Kreme doughnuts, and I admit that, while there’s nothing quite as good as a warm Krispie Kreme glazed doughnut, after they have cooled off five minutes later, they’re just ordinary. Haters, don’t hate.

But back to my most recent doughnut purchase. There is a doughnut shop that opened up maybe a year or so ago called Voodoo Doughnuts. The original store is in Portland, OR, and they have only opened a couple more following their rip-roaring success there – one in Denver, and most recently in Austin, TX. We were in AZ when the Denver store opened, but there were apparently lines blocks long to purchase these doughnuts. The bakery is far from my house, so I have never bothered to go.

However, I knew that my friend likes these particular doughnuts and it is located very near her house. That’s where I decided to go.

It was midmorning when I got there, so the lines had died down. I only had a short wait. Which was just enough time to get over my shock when I saw the price of a dozen doughnuts. My friends, a dozen of mixed doughnuts was $15. For 12 pieces of dough covered with frosting.

Oh, and all sorts of oddball toppings such as Rice Krispies and Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs. My dad’s head was undoubtedly spinning……

voo-doo-donut-fruit-loops

I bit the bullet and made my purchase. When I got to my friend’s house, she poured me a cup of very good coffee and we had our doughnuts in her back yard. I will admit that the yeast doughnuts were quite tasty. The cake doughnuts, well, maybe a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps it was the grape Kool Aid coating. And you think I’m kidding.

box-voo-doo-donuts

Our favorite doughnuts these days come from Basha’s markets in Arizona, where, shockingly, my brother works. But I know doughnuts, and I know they are exceptionally good. And they cost – wait for it – 75 cents apiece. But no Fruit Loops.

By the way, since parking was hard to find at Voodoo Doughnuts given that it is located just this side of the state capitol building, I took a chance and parked illegally where a sign warned me not to park. As I walked back to my car, I saw that a patrolman was writing me a ticket. I thought about offering him a Kool Aid doughnut as a bribe, but he pulled away just as I walked up. So add another $50 to my dozen doughnuts!

Play Dates

Like most Baby Boomers, from the time school let out at the beginning of summer until I trudged the seven blocks back to school after Labor Day with my shiny new school supplies and my book bag left over from the previous year or handed down from my sister, I played outside.

After a breakfast of Frosted Flakes with bananas on top (as a wink and a nod towards actual nutrition), I put on my pedal pushers and my sleeveless plaid blouse, considered – then rejected – my flip-flops (then called thongs), and ran outside barefoot to my back patio.

“Eee-ah-kee, Kathy,” I yelled at the top of my lungs. This was my way of contacting my best neighborhood friend and inviting her to come out and play.

“Eee-ah-kee,” she would respond, and be over at my house in a heartbeat.

I don’t know what eee-ah-kee means or from whence it originated. We are not American Indian. It just became our cry for fellowship. There was, by the way, no need to holler, as my childhood friend was just a quick scamper past our garage and through Mrs. Benda’s garden. But holler, we did.

And play, we did. Games that called for imagination. Riding our bikes. Playing tag. Spying on the neighbors to the south. Playing with our Barbie dolls. Writing and performing plays in front of our patient mothers and neighbors. Occasionally stopping for a glass of Kool-Aid that was toxically loaded with red dye. Taking a break for a salami sandwich and milk. Finishing up quickly as I heard in the distance, “Eee-ah-kee, Kris.”

More call to play.

Baby Boomers everywhere recall these days with joyful nostalgia. Metal playground equipment that was scalding to the touch which didn’t stop us from using them. Merry-go-rounds that you took turns pushing as hard as you could. Mostly we stayed on, but sometimes someone fell off and required Mercurochrome and a band-aid. See? It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. We actually hurt ourselves. We had scabs to prove it. Mercurochrome, by the way, was banned by the FDA in 1998. It’s a wonder we’re still alive.

I often see postings on social media from fellow Baby Boomers recalling these simpler days. I know that our kids are safer now than we were. I don’t purport that we return to the days of riding bikes without helmets. But still, I don’t see scores of Baby Boomers wearing head gear caused by falling off a merry-go-round.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a link to an article from the reputable publication Psychology Today. This article, written by a smartypants as indicated by the fact that he has a Ph.D., reports that rates of depression and anxiety among young people are on the rise, and have been for several decades. He goes on to say that this psychological phenomenon appears to have nothing to do with the idea that our world is inherently more dangerous. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, World War II, and the ensuing years when we all thought we were going to be blasted to Kingdom Come by a nuclear bomb coming straight out of the Soviet Union, we were all still happy campers.

And the reason for the increase according to Dr. Peter Gray? Kids no longer have a sense of personal control over what is going to happen to them. The reason, he goes on to say, is that kids no longer play outside unwatched by any sort of parental figure. Instead, they have Play Dates. As a result, kids no longer solve their own problems. They don’t figure out how to fight their own battles. Instead, parents help their kids make decisions (when they’re not actually making the decisions for them). Parents are choosing their kids’ friends. Kids aren’t able to choose their own interests. Instead, they are put on soccer teams and into gymnastic classes. They must study, study, study because they have to get into the best schools and for heaven’s sake, they MUST go to college. As a result, they are spending more time than ever in school, and less time in free play with their friends.

I don’t know if Dr. Smartypants is right or not. My grandkids seem perfectly happy with their lives. But it does make me sort of sad that they haven’t the opportunity to experience summer in the same way that I did.

And, by the way, kids still drink red Kool-Aid, though I’m certain it’s made with safer coloring.

Here is a photo courtesy of a fellow grade school classmate who somehow had access to this permanent reminder of our youth. I am pretty sure I am the little girl with my back to the camera in the middle row, third from the right, uncharacteristically wearing my glasses. The top row features the women who served us every day at cafeteria. While they look wholly unpleasant (except for the woman on the far right who didn’t get the memo that she shouldn’t smile), I recall them actually being quite pleasant. Ah, sweet youth….

cafeteria line circa 1960 (2)