The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Play Dates vs "Going Out To Play"

By Sally Day, The Quill

Play Date? What in the heck is that, I asked myself. There are many new phrases adopted by society each year and I cannot remember in what year "Play Date" was coined, but it has been awhile.

However, I was totally unfamiliar with it!

I tried to equate that phrase with my own childhood. Nope. Nothing. I really could not measure it up to how I had spent my youth.

So, when I pictured a "Play Date," I envisioned two little ones, Johnny and Mac or Susie and Claire, meeting their little play dates in darn near formal attire.

Next, I assumed they would have structured play with germ free toys on an equally clean surface.

What did we call "Play Dates"? Playing or "Going Out to Play" was the only thing I could come up with to answer my query. We simply asked our Moms, "May I go out and play?" That was it! And, if Mom answered, "Yes", then we were off!

Now, my Mama would nearly always say, "Stay within range of the sound of my voice."

We knew what that meant. That meant if you were anywhere during the day and your Mom called you and you didn't hear her.....oh, boy!! You were in trouble. So we tried to stay within ear shot.

That gave us about a five or six house radius. Sometimes we ventured a little farther, but we were quickly back within ear shot.

Our "Play Dates" were not nearly as structured or clean as those of today! Our Moms did not go out to play with us. Were our "Play Dates" more dangerous? Yes. Did we use our imagination more? I think so.

Play changes as you grow. When I was very young, I simply remember pulling wagons and riding my tricycle. There were dolls, doll houses and other things to keep us busy, too.

Yes, we played with doll houses outside.

As we grew older, we had bicycles to ride, games to play, and forts to build. Did I mention that I grew up with mostly boys?

We had alone time, as well. I loved to read and would do so for hours. I still have some of the books I was given as a child.

Sometimes I would simply lie down in the grass and watch the clouds roll by.

I remember thinking how cool it would be to live amongst the clouds. I would watch the shape of the clouds change as they rolled by and see so many things.

I had scads of cardboard folders full of paper dolls. There was a certain art form to paper dolls. The cutting out of the dolls was a tedious and remarkable craft. I loved that. And you had to be careful not to fold down the tabs too often or their clothes would wear out.

One thing we used to do much of the time was to draw pictures in the street of our "houses". We lived at the end of a dead end street, so we were able to use the street much of the time as our play area. There was a great deal of new construction going on in our neighborhood when I was younger. So the "chalk" we used was actually drywall, which we broke apart and used as chalk. We found the drywall pieces in discard piles at new construction sites.

The pictures we drew in the streets were more like blue prints of homes, only we even drew in the furniture and appliances. We could draw cars and other modes of transportation.

And then, we pretended and used our imagination and could play for hours.

And, of course we used that chalk for hopscotch, as well.

During the winter months, we played outside, too. Nearly everyone had sleds and ice skates. There was always somewhere to sled. If we didn't have enough ice to ice skate on nearby, one of our parents would flood a yard (with railroad ties for a border) and we would have a neighborhood ice skating rink. We also built snowmen and snow forts and had snowball fights.

I still see children playing outside. Not as many and not as often and usually not alone, but I do see them and I hope there will always be children playing outdoors.