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
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
Updated September 1, 2018