Posted by: Jim E | June 4, 2011

Trees Houses…Airplanes…Dugouts…Forts…And Stuff…

Oh, it seems like a long time ago…well, it was a long time ago…but you know, just because it was a long time ago, doesn’t mean it was unimportant…in fact as I think about time and things that happened they become more important…because they give importance to today…as well as that time…as a kid we loved to climb trees…what is it about going up in a tree, way up in a tree and looking around…playing Tarzan (in those days at least) or some other game or person…not playing on a video…but in real life…Oh, I suppose we would be scared to let our kids do that today…we hear of all kinds of accidents…but Oh, how I loved to climb trees…it was so “freeing”, way up away from the ties to the ground…seeing things from that perspective…

I remember seeing the movie, “The Spirit of St. Louis” with James Stewart in the role of Charles A. Lindbergh in 1957…he was a Minnesota boy…born in Michigan…but raised in Little Falls, MN…somehow I think in the movie they had a little scene of him watching plane flying over his house on the Mississippi River when he was a boy…and that kind of settled what he wanted to do…but regardless, I know the feeling…like most of us, we have felt the excitement of being off the ground…not in total control of the situation…yet having the excitement of doing it…and pretending all kinds of adventures…from flying to swinging on ropes from treetop to treetop…

I remember hearing about Lindbergh as I was growing up…and later we took the kids to Little Falls, MN, when we went camping one year and saw his boyhood home, the spot on the Mississippi River where he fished…all this is a Minnesota State Park now…it was great…because by this time I had read much more about him…I could relate to his boyhood and how it was not much different than many other boys growing up in Minnesota at the time…

There was a tree in my grandparents front yard that we climbed many times…it stood right behind the picture I posted a while ago of my Mom in 1944, I was only two then…and so it changed a bit by the time I was old enough to climb it…it was a huge Elm tree and when I started to climb it, I needed a ladder to get up into the first crotch of the tree (as you can see in this picture)…but as time went on I made the climb…and many other trees in the neighborhood…what a childhood!!!…

But it was not only “up” that kids get into…I remember so well when we bought our house in Andover, MN…it was June 1971…our yard was about 3/4 of an acre of land…and there were a few houses built in our neighborhood but no one behind us…all of the area around us was reclaimed farm land…the field behind us was still in furrows, left from farming…but NO trees…open fields but no trees…so our four boys had to find other types of “make believe”…make-believe…that’s a world of fantasy where they played, dreamed, laughed, stretched their minds and learned how to get along with others…these values developed creativity and ability to move from childhood to manhood…none of us realized this was going on at the time, I guess, they were just having fun…tree climbing or fort making…it all works…

It all started with me needing some extra dirt for some reason…and digging it up out of the field behind us…that started something in the minds of our boys…so they with shovels, leftover boards, hammers, nails and other “stuff” built a dugout fort…to them it was huge and very elaborate…it probably was…I don’t remember going out there much…but they enjoyed it until they outgrew it or the owners of the field decided they wanted it for grazing their horses…but what a wonderful time they had…Jeremy still recalls that time even now…every once in a while he talks about those forts and he together with his brothers having a great time…out in that open field…there were Meadowlarks in the field then…before all the bushes and brush took over…Meadowlarks will only nest in open fields…and nest on the ground…the boys also learned a bit about nature in that field too…

So whether it was airplanes or trees or dugouts or forts…it seems that those times for the young are so good…I remember them as so important in my life…my kids too…and your kids as well…

If we will only stop and just think about those times…it will dig up areas that have not been disturbed or thought about for years…but will bring back wonderful memories of our past…

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Responses

  1. There is such a difference between growing up many years ago compared to now…do children still play all day in fields away from home, I wonder.

    • I don’t think that happens as much today…and maybe electronics has something to do with it…IPhone, TV, computers…all the online stuff…but also I think parents are so cautious, and understandably so with all the “stuff” that happens…but maybe too cautious, I don’t know…your blog paints a “great picture” of what can be done outside…thanks…

  2. Watching Seasons, I don’t think they play all day in fields at all. They sit on the couch playing x-box they are really missing out….

    • You may be exactly right, Saun…I don’t think kids “play” outside much unless it is “organized”…they are missing a lot…have you checked out Watching Seasons blog…like yours, great stuff…thanks…

  3. I loved playing outside as a kid. We were never bored. From the time my girls were little, I took them outside to play all the time. We were lucky because we live near the end of a dead-end street (cul-de-sac) so there’s not a lot of traffic. We’d play tag, kickball, hide-n-go-seek, and hopscotch, among other things. My youngest (twins) are 18-years-old now and still love to go outside. It’s sad because growing up, some of their friends had never heard of kickball and hopscotch until they came to our house. Their parents were definitely “electronic parents”. I hope and pray my girls pass the “playing outside” tradition on to their kids when they become parents.

    • I give you the title: “Good Mom”…I loved your comment…I know things change, heavens I’ve seen enough of them over the years…but what comes from kids learning to play without some kind of outside “stimulus” promotes creativity…and that Julie is what all kids need to “make it” in school and work…Oh, I know how important it is to know about “new stuff”…but there needs to be some kind of balance in the lives of all of us…Judie and I were just talking about how much time per day people take up with IPhone, computer, movies, and TV…anyway, thanks…good thoughts…


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