by Elodia Strain
My sister is in town visiting me for a while and our late-night chats have led to lots of reminiscing about our childhood.
We grew up in a small town in the foothills of Yosemite National Park. How small of a town, you ask? Well, so small that when a fast food joint called “Papa Taco,” sprung up the whole town was in an uproar and poor Papa Taco didn’t stand a chance. So small that the two most “popular” girls in my sixth grade class were the daughter of the hardware store owner and the daughter of the drugstore owner.
I must admit though, living in the boondocks was wonderful for the imagination. In fact, a few days ago my sister and I were talking about the many games we invented out of sheer necessity. Here are a couple of our favorites:
1. “Barbie Gymnastics” I had to start with Barbies. My sister and I used to play for hours. When the Olympics were on TV, we decided we would hold Barbie Gymnastics. We used a book spine for a balance beam and a bread loaf pan for a pommel horse. We spent hours throwing our Barbies in the air for their “events.” It was such a blast.
2. “Bonk on Head” This was our greatest invention, in my opinion. The object of the game was to run around the darkened bedroom trying to avoid being “bonked on head” by the Popple (do you remember Popples?) being yielded by the person who was “it.” There’s no way I can impart how much fun Bonk on Head was. I’m feeling a little teary just thinking about it.
3. “Acorn Mushers” All things having to do with Native American culture were very big in our little town. So when we learned in school that the Indians in our area once made acorn mush, we spent hours in the yard mashing acorns and mixing them with water, trying to get them to turn into anything edible. It never worked. And now that I’m writing this, I can taste that gross raw acorn taste on my tongue all over again. Ick.
Sometimes I wonder how I would be different had I grown up near a mall or a bowling alley. But I’m glad that I learned at an early age that a room can be transformed with a little bit of creativity and a lot of laughter and that the world is full of chances to be a gymnast or an Indian or…whatever you want to be.