Malachi's Promise "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers...." Malachi 4:6

Monday, April 9, 2012

Belinda and Jacks in the Calumet Can

Do little girls play jacks these days? Do they even know what jacks are? Or Tag, Hide-and-Seek, or Mother, May I? We played those games and plenty more when I was a child. We learned skills like cooperation, fair play, negotiation, and conflict resolution. We increased our exercise, stamina, and creativity. We used up our energy (much to our mothers' pleasure and relief, I'm sure) and improved our motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and a rash of other good things. We interacted with each other, created bonds of friendships, quarreled and made up, laughed, and had fun.

My cousin Belinda and I were less than a year apart in age and often played together, sometimes at her house, sometimes at mine, and sometimes at Gramma's. We were the next-to-youngest and youngest of Gramma's eight grandchildren, less than a year apart in age. The oldest was my brother who was 11 years older than me. By the time Belinda and I came along, most of the toys that Gramma might have had were gone. There were a few children's books. There was a large oak rocker where Belinda and I sat together to rock and sometimes look at books. And there were a few toys that Gramma kept in the bottom of her buffet.

A set of jacks are the only toy I remember from that cupboard. Those jacks were dandy! They were old, heavy jacks. I don't know how old but they were older than the light, flimsy, featherweight metal jacks available in stores at the time. When we flipped Gramma's jacks there was weight and heft. They went up and came down, not sideways, not flying away, but directly and heavily down. We knew we were holding something real in our hands. I had another set of jacks that I took to school for recess but I loved playing with Gramma's jacks best. She kept them in a Calumet baking powder can.

When I think of it now, I'm amazed that Gramma kept those jacks so many years. They stayed in her home nearly 40 years after I quit playing with them. I wonder if she liked them as much as I did.

After Gramma and Grampa died, their youngest daughter sold some of their possessions and took the rest to her house. There was a rift in the family and Belinda and I thought all of the things we enjoyed at Gramma's and that reminded us of her were gone. Most were gone but years and years later, Belinda somehow persuaded our aunt and her executrix to share the wealth of mementos.

I came to have the jacks because Belinda remembered how I loved them. When they came to her, she sent them on to me in their original Calumet can. In the can Belinda had added a note with the command, "Practice!" She wrote, "When I surprise you some day & show up at your door, I'm going to challenge you to a game." Belinda had such a sense of humor.

The day for the challenge never came, though. Belinda's life was taken away by lymphoma three years ago, not long after she sent me the jacks.

Her birthday is today. She would have been 63. I'm wishing her a happy, happy birthday!

..

12 comments:

  1. What a touching story of a special cousin and good memories! I am so glad you came into possession of the jacks.

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  2. Great story! When I think of the games I used to play with my sisters and the girls next door... those were fun times and so simple. Games like Freeze Tag, Monkey in the middle, Two-square, Hide & Seek, and doing cartwheels and making up routines. Oh what fun we had! I'm glad to hear that you got those jacks. Definitely something special to remember the past and smile. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Nancy, I so enjoyed this heartfelt story of friendship, childhood games, and your Gramma. And I can identify with the rift in the family caused by someone taking all the treasures (we have one of those in my family, too). Sorry to hear that you lost your cousin Belinda too soon--she sounds like a delightful person. This was a wonderful way to honor her memory.

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  4. This story touched me unexpectedly at the end when your cousin died too soon. I have seen my grandkids playing hide and seek often but never jacks that I can remember. Maybe I should practice up and challenge them to game.

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  5. Good post. I played them all-but I'm sure my girls have never played any of the games except hide-n-seek.

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  6. Such a great post! it really does pull at the heartstrings -- on more than one level. I love your picture of the jacks in their special can.

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  7. Dorene, thanks for reading the post. It wasn't until just now, as I was getting reading to respond to comments, that I realized that I don't have a single memory of actually playing jacks with Belinda. We did lots of other things together but I don't remember playing jacks.... Thanks again for reading and leaving a comment.

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  8. Jennifer, thanks for reading and commenting. Outdoor play was such fun. We played some of your games, too, plus badminton, and rode bikes. I don't think kids play outdoors as much as they used to. Did everyone get used to air conditioning so it feels too hot to play out, do you think? Thanks again for visiting.

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  9. Thank you, Shelley. It wouldn't be so bad for someone to have nearly all the treasures, if only they would share! Sometimes a scan of a photo or a photo of an object is enough. The sad thing in our family is that my aunt sold so much before anyone else had a chance to even photograph. Somewhere someone is enjoying my grandparents' treasures! Thanks again for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  10. Thanks for your comment, Kristin. Kids seem to play electronic games more now than hand games or other kinds of interactive games (interactive with other people, that is). I hope you win if you challenge your grands to jacks. I would have to practice long and hard before considering a challenge.

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  11. Tipper, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. Would your girls enjoy those games? There are so many that we used to play. Other things seem to take precedence over outdoor games these days. I know your girls have fun whatever they're doing!

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  12. Kathy, thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you stopped by to read and left a comment.

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I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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