On summer nights, the children who lived on Sutter Street (in the 1940s

and early 1950s) would gather under the street light and we would play

games, such as hide-and-seek, Run-sheepie-run, Red Rover, Red Rover

and surely many more that I no longer remember. When we were all hot

and sweaty, we’d sit on someone’s front steps and take turns singing


My favorite was a forlorn song that starts out “Once upon a time, there

was a little girl, raggedy and dirty, no shoes on her feet, hungry and

thirsty, for something to eat…” It was, I believe, a song my mother taught

to me.  When we grew tied of singing to one another, we went indoors

to sleep and await for another day.

We also played a game loosely called COWBOYS AND INDIANS,  the

most coveted role was being somebody’s horse.

Patti and Carol and I also played something we called DRESS UPS– we

each had a box of clothing donated to us by the old ladies on our street;

we’d dress up and wrap a discarded lace curtain around our heads and

then parade up and down Sutter Street. (In retrospect, the neighbor

ladies  probably weren’t that old but anything over twenty-one would

have seemed old to us).

We had another playtime activity that wasn’t a game–we each had some

little 10″ dolls (before Barbie was created) and we each had a box of

fabric scraps, giving to us by our mothers or Mrs. Bable or Mrs Siltz.  This

was something we did on rainy days too.  We had needles and thread

and would make doll clothes.

For lack of anything else to do on summer days we might make a hop

scotch (everyone seemed to have a piece of chalk) or we might play with

paper dolls or coloring books.  Each child had his or her own stash of

these things.

Another thing each one of the girls might have would be a set of jacks or

pick up sticks, your own jumping rope and small balls that we bounced

against a wall and played games with. and we also collected trading

cards that could be purchased at a 5&10 cent store.  Children generally

‘specialized’ in things like cats or dogs.  Genuine trading cards did not

have numbers or things like diamonds or hearts printed on them–the

reverse side of the card would be blank.  Boys like my brothers would

collect baseball cards.

As I think about all these different games (a drop in the bucket

compared to all the board games there are today) it seems to me that

we were never bored, and you never NEVER, EVER complained to your

mother about being bored.  She would quickly give you a laundry list of

things to do.

For lack of anything ELSE to do, my friend Carol and I would go bike

riding all over the neighborhood and beyond.


Sandra Lee Smith

February 2015

Updated September 1, 2018


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