Toys have surely changed

What a difference in toys our children and grandchildren play with today compared to what we had when I was growing up. When they come for a visit, they often bring with them some kind of electronic toy. They get engrossed in playing with it and don’t do much visiting with us.

Some of them, as they have gotten a little older, may have a smartphone. They can do all kinds of things with that phone. They may have found a game that they can play on it or some subject they want to research or find out what a word means.

Smartphones are great, but I don’t have one. It may be because I am not smart enough to use one because they will do so many things along with making phone calls.

Younger children may have some kind of basic electronic toy that they have learned to use. They get very good at playing with the gadget.

Today’s toys are far different than what we had. We had never heard of electronic toys. What we had were very basic.

If we had a big cardboard box, we could find ways to spend hours with that box. We would make it into a house or a room or a hiding place from someone. It became whatever our imagination suggested.

Then there were marbles. We spent a lot of hours playing with them once we had enough to make a game. Our driveway was sandy or gravel. So we would draw a circle of some diameter, depending on the number of marbles we had.

We each had a “shooter” marble that may have been a bit larger or of a different color or something that made it different from the other ones. We would use that shooter to see how many marbles in the circle we could hit. If you hit one, it became yours for that game. The one with the most marbles was the winner,

An indoor game we played often was jacks. It was a bunch of metal four-cornered, small objects called jacks, and a small rubber ball that had a good bounce to it. We would throw the jacks on the floor. Then throw the ball up and let it bounce while we would pick up the jacks starting with just one, then two, three and up. The one who could pick up the most jacks with one bounce of the ball was the winner.

Another simple and not-too-expensive game was pick-up sticks. It was simply a group of smooth, round pointed sticks. We would hold them up on a table, then let them fall in whatever arrangement they would fall. The object was to see how many one could pick up without moving another one.

Playing tag was another popular outdoor game. All that was needed was a group of kids to play, places to hide and someone who was “it.” Tag was a good, outdoor game.

Duck on a rock was another simple outdoor game. It required a group, each with a tin can and a rock. One person put his / her tin can on the rock while others would throw theirs to knock it off. When someone knocked it off, the person in the center would tag him /her and he / she had to put his / her can on the rock.

When we got a little older, we got some clay and built horseshoe pits. Our horseshoe pits became a neighborhood attraction. Some of the older players who would join us got good at throwing ringers.

We enjoyed plain, simple games that didn’t cost a lot of money — usually because we didn’t have much money. But we enjoyed our games.

Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Contact him at