Readers reminice about childhood joy

A recent Project: Reader Reaction topic asked participants what they did for fun as children. Here are some responses:

“I delivered the Milwaukee Journal in my own neighborhood, covering three complete city blocks with an average of 76 weekday, Saturday, and Sunday customers. Incidentally, the price of the weekday and Saturday journals was three cents. One had to pay 10 cents for the Sunday paper. My customers owed me 28 cents a week.
“My grandfather paid $13 to get me the route; I don’t remember paying him back.
“I used to meet the Gehl’s milk delivery man at a small apartment complex on Oakland Avenue every Sunday morning. I always bought a quart of Gehl’s chocolate milk from him, and I would sit on the steps inside the door and drink the whole quart.
“One Sunday morning in the middle of winter at 4 a.m., my dog Rocky, a black cocker spaniel, helped me deliver the Sunday papers by pulling a sled with the rolled-up newspapers in a delivery bag. After two blocks, Rocky’s feet had snow clods so bad that he couldn’t move. I carried him home.”
“… Sometimes we took the streetcar to (my grandmother’s house) … My grandmother always seemed to be pleased with our unannounced appearances. The only excuse I can think of now is that we didn’t have cell phones!
“I made up for it one time when I shoveled the entire driveway, which was a good city block long, lined with poplar trees. I collapsed after it was all over, and when my grandfather came home from work, I was in his bed recovering. I felt pretty good, though. Maybe it was worth $13.”
— Bill Gaedke, Clovis

“As a (preteen) child I enjoyed many different activities. Living on a small Kansas farm during the Depression, I didn’t realize that we were poor. I was very well fed, had a pony, a pond to swim in, a nearby river with a small metal boat, a wonderful brother, and ‘cowboy and Indian’ games with homemade wooden ‘guns’ that propelled knotted rubber bands made from old automobile inner tubes. And we enjoyed movies more than our city cousins, as they were a rare treat.”
— Harold Burris, Clovis

“I went fishing with my grandparents at Fort Sumner Lake, spent most of my summers out at my great aunt and uncle’s farm along with my cousin, Michael, who was always getting me in trouble, going to the movies and hanging around with my many cousins in Clovis. I had a great childhood. I can remember more good days than I can bad days as a child and I thank God every day for my family.”
— Ardyth Elms, Clovis

“I grew up camping, hiking, backpacking and river rafting in the Sierra Nevada ranges. I was one of the few Generation X kids that learned early on that the best things in life are free. I never needed materialism to have fun. Ten dollars of gasoline in the old truck got me out of the concrete jungles filled with gang members and drugs only to set me free in the great outdoors. Although the serenity and the solitude is harder to find these days, the mountains are still the best place to grow up.”
— Richard Lopes, Clovis

“Toys were non-existent. We made our own. Burros were on the roam in the country and were available for the taking. A bunch of us kids would jump on a burro and go rabbit hunting with our dogs. (We used) a paddle on the side of the head to guide them. This was a lot of fun when (we had) nothing else to do.”
— James W. McDonald, Clovis

“I was born and raised in southern Vermont — Springfield, to be exact. Between the ages of 4 and 18, I lived on a remote farm and enjoyed that life until I joined the United States Air Force team (1959-1989). I had lots of fun in my younger years — building snow forts and snow men during the winter, traveling at high speeds down the north 40 pasture on toboggans, sleds, and skis. The summers brought a different kind of fun, however — fishing the mountain streams, hiking the backwoods and swimming (an) occasional deep, swirling brook-fed pond.
“… Are those days gone forever? Let us pray not. I equate my childhood days of fun with today’s definition of freedom — not abuse of rights but freedom of choice.”
— Denver Jones, Clovis

“The most fun I had as a child was to wander barefoot in a rocky creek catching crayfish under the rocks. The sunshine on the water always made me happy. And the thrill of finding the crayfish was like finding treasure. Of course, that was in Pennsylvania where creeks are plentiful, but days are cloudy and the weather is mostly cold. Trips to the creek were few and thus more memorable. I have given that up for New Mexico sunshine and big skies. I think life (is) better here.”
— Carolyn Spence, Clovis

“Many years ago when I was a child we had a lot less to play with. I played with empty thread spools, stick horses, and just about anything else we could have fun with. I do remember that it took much longer then to take a trip to grandmother’s house, only 10 miles away, than it does today. Then when we asked ‘Are we there yet?’ it was a more fitting question than today. Or was it?”
— John Frey, Clovis

“When I was a kid, I did many a crazy thing as I wanted to experiment with anything and everything. In grade school, I experimented with a chemistry set and sent everyone out of the house when mixing different substances, which produced a pungent smell … for two days. Needless to say, I did not become a physicist.
“When I was older, I experimented with speed, as do all teenagers, and also paid the price in the courts. I never did become a race car driver.
“I enjoyed traveling to visit our cousins in the neighboring state and really became enthusiastic about seeing places and other people and spent most of the rest of my life doing just that — traveling while a member of the United States Air Force and a member of the Foreign Service with the State Department. …
“Now that I’m retired, I enjoy chatting with people on the Internet. Too bad we didn’t have this when I was growing up. Just think of all the friends I would have by now.”
— Gerald Majewski, Clovis

“I … remember a game called ‘kick the can.’ One person was ‘it’ and all the others had to hide within the neighborhood, within given boundaries. A can was set up at the ‘home’ place. The ‘it’ person had to find them. Once they were found, they were out of the game and had to wait on the sidelines.
“But, if one who was still in play could sneak in without being seen and kick the can (while the ‘it’ person was out looking), then all those previously out were back in. We played this game for hours.”
— Bob Baker, Clovis

“I SCARED PEOPLE. I built heads on poles to terrify neighbors hanging laundry, I put documents in mailboxes from martians, I dressed my cousins up like frogs and other movie monsters and then we would walk by someone’s window to watch their reactions. I guess I just saw too much TV.”
— Christy Mendoza, Clovis