Column: Joe Morinville

joe6Last week I focused my column on Town gossip. Should have known better because now I have to eat some crow. I said when councillors stopped a bus in a traffic circle in Edmonton so they could get off and take a close look they got stuck there until the bus driver got back. Well I was completely wrong on that one. Turns out it was a roundabout they got stuck at, not a traffic circle. Serves me right for listening to gossipers.

So this weekend is a long weekend and the Town wants us all to unplug from our electronic devices on Family Day and get all connected with those nearest and dearest to us. It got me to thinking about all the stuff we used to do to amuse ourselves before there were little handheld devices we could use to look at pictures of cats and bacon anytime we want on the Facebook.

1/ Before everyone sat around in the basement with a bag of Doritos playing war games on the second big screen TV, we used to go outside and pretend sticks were machine guns and rifles. Cops and robbers or a game of war were great exercise and a great chance to get some fresh air.

2/ If it was too rainy to play cops and robbers we played board games. People would be too bored to play the board games we used to play. Do they even make Snakes and Ladders these days?

3/ Hide-and-go-seek was a game we’d play for hours, longer if someone found a really good hiding spot. I was so good at it they had to file a missing person report before I’d give up my location. But I needed a good spot. Being a fat kid, hiding behind a telephone pole just didn’t work.

4/ Telephone poles were these big wooden things that held telephone lines above the rooftops. You can look that up on the Google. Just don’t do it on Family Day.

5/ If we wanted to talk to our friends on the phone, we’d get mom to save us a couple soup cans instead of throwing them in the garbage. Then we’d punch a couple holes in the can, tie a string, and stretch that phone line out so we could have a long distance chat from five feet away.

6/ Marbles was a pastime that was part kids game and part introduction to the big money world of gambling. I used to cut holes in the side of a shoebox and have kids try to get a marble in the hole. If you got it in you won a bunch of marbles. If you didn’t, I got to keep your marbles. The house always wins in the end. Ask any casino.

7/ The first Slinky was made in 1945. I got my first one 10 years later and played with it regularly until my friend threw up on it as it was going down the stairs. Put me right off the toy right then and there.

8/ People used to love to do puzzles. The whole family would sit around the kitchen table drinking tea and trying to put all those little pieces together so it looked like the picture on the box. People just won’t invest that much time to assemble a photo of a couple kittens when they can just turn on the Facebook and see all kinds of them in a couple seconds.

9/ Snowmen. You just don’t see many of them these days, no matter how much snow we get. Don’t know if there is a snowman making iPad app. Maybe that’s where they are made these days.

10/ Speaking of computer games – the first home version of Pong, which was nothing more than a beeping and bleeping tennis game that tied up your TV set so you couldn’t watch M*A*S*H came out in 1975. Kids wanted one and I said no. Thing cost about $100 and you could buy a Ping-Pong table for less than that. Gave the boys a couple sticks and told them to go play cops and robbers. That’s what we always did growing up.

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  1. While I agree with the sentiment, I have to say that many of these classic passtimes are alive and well. My family does puzzles, not huge ones, as my kids are pretty little, but they get done. I once lost my one year old who joined in an absorbing game of hide-and-seek and turned out to be very good at it. I would love to get a ping-pong table, but I haven’t found one for under $100. We also play board games, and I am looking forward to the next Morinville Family games night! As for snowmen, we tend to keep to the privacy of the back yard. I hope this Family Day everyone really does take this little push to unplug and enjoy the people around them a little bit more!

  2. Thank you Mr. Joe Morinville for your column – it makes me smile every time I read it. I agree with the comments that Average Mom made and just wanted to let you know that in our house during the winter – puzzles are still alive and well. We set up a big table in the sun room and lay out a 1,000 piece puzzle. Friends drop by for coffee or tea and they all help.

  3. I’m sure glad to hear that puzzles are still going strong. I was sure they went the way of the coonskin hat and the hula hoop. Maybe there is hope for us old folks yet.

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