Big Kids, Little Kids And Kickball

kickball          “Can I play?  Please, can I play, just this once?”  My eight-year-old pleas went unnoticed on the sun-baked road sprinkled with kids choosing teams for a game of kickball.

Finally, my big brother, Steve, looked in my whining direction.  “You know the rule.  You have to be ten!  Now get off the road!”

Dejected, I trudged over to the stone wall behind first base, topped with a fringe of dangling feet—all the spectators who knew the sad misfortune of being under ten.

Hunt Avenue was always vibrantly alive with the business of active little minds collectively pursuing their highest aim—to have fun!  One of the activities highest on the list was the great game of kickball.

An entire generation of Hunt Avenue kids knew the playing field well.  Home plate was the manhole in front of the Higgins’ house.

First base was a big, green mail receptacle box up against the ivy-covered stone wall in front of the Walker’s house, where the mailman picked up his mail every afternoon.  We didn’t use the politically correct term “mail carrier” back then, nor did the mailman drive a truck up to everyone’s mailbox out by the street.  He garnished a white canvas bag with a strap over his shoulder and across his chest, with “U.S. Mail” stenciled on it in large, black letters.  He filled his bag from the large mail box, and then proceeded to walk his route.  He carried the mail up to each person’s front porch, dodging dogs all the way, and deposited envelopes in their mailboxes by the front door.

So the U.S. Postal Service provided us with a nice sturdy, immovable first base.

Alas, we had no such neatly provided landmark for second base, so someone painted it in the middle of the road, right where it should be in the diamond formation of our playing field.  I don’t know who painted it, or if anyone ever repainted it to keep it fresh—I just remember it always … just being there.

The Higgins provided third base.  It was a rather large rock in front of their house out by the street, about 1½ foot diameter, and always neatly painted with bright white paint and the large black numbers “116,” indicating their house number.  Located directly across the street from the mailbox, it made a perfect third base.

It just occurred to me that some young readers might not be familiar with the game of kickball.  It’s very much like the rules of baseball, only the ball is about the size of a soccer ball, but softer, and covered with swirls of soft colors.  Instead of throwing the ball to whoever is “up,” the pitcher stands in the middle of the field and rolls the ball toward the kicker at home plate.  Just about all the other rules of baseball apply.

The problem with playing kickball on our street, though, was that there were too many kids!  The big kids wanted to have a good game, without moaning and groaning over the slower and less adroit little kids.  And of course the little kids were always squealing, “Can I play? Can I play?”

So the big kids got together and laid down some rules—well, just one, really:

 In order to play kickball with the big kids,

you have to be at least ten years old.

           Thus, the age of ten became a coveted age for all the little kids.  Not many families could afford large birthday parties, and they were mostly celebrated within each family with simply a birthday cake for dessert after the supper meal, minus all the presents.  But a tenth birthday was really special, for it marked a rite of passage into the realm of “the big kids.”  And surprisingly enough, all the big kids cordially welcomed the new ten-year-old into the great game—without any fussing or complaining, for it was “the rule.”  When you turned ten, you could play kickball!

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4 Responses to “Big Kids, Little Kids And Kickball”

  1. June Haywood Says:

    Our mail man still walks his route and puts the mail in the mail boxes mounted to the house right next to the front door. He does drive a mail truck and parks at the end of the street, then walks up one side and down the other back to his truck which he then moves to the end of the next street etc.

    • judyransom Says:

      Wow, June, I didn’t know they did that anymore! How do they handle the dogs who belong to people who refuse to obey local restraint ordinances??? Pepper spray?

  2. slowdancejournal Says:

    What a lovely post, Judy! It makes me think of summers in my home neighborhood, rollerskating and drawing hopscotch boards on the road (not much traffic in my suburban development). Thanks for a little advance on summer!

    • judyransom Says:

      Oh my gosh, Adrian — I remember all the hopscotch and roller skating! The father of my friend across the street was a painter, and we were always chipping away pieces of drywall sheets from his garage, to use as chalk for hopscotch. He’d get so mad … but we kept chipping away anyway. After all, a girl has to play hopscotch! Thanks for refreshing that memory, my dear!

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