When I think of winter, I think of chaos. The most enjoyable times of my youth were spent at play as a diversion to the long winter days of the 70’s. Much of this play was indoors and was chaotic and caused damaged to the furniture of our home. Anyway, I want to tell you about it.
Our basement was small but well made. It was constructed of concrete which was the proper substance to house all of us boys and my dad as we rough-housed and played our way through the winter. We cleaned out a corner of the basement and made it our recreation room. I would say we had a 15’ by 15’ area that was either a billiard room or fight club-the choice was dependent upon the season. Much of the year it contained a bumper pool table which was central to many hours-long tournaments. There were many special handicaps to playing bumper-pool downstairs as the chimney caused an area where the pool cue had to be held at a 75 degree angle or the shot was impossible.
There was also a time when this space played host to wrestling mats. We all wrestled each other until we got bored with that and instead opted for boxing gloves. The gloves were big and heavy in an effort to prevent any permanent-drooling due to impact but the punches were still pretty devastating. It was were also fun! It was so enjoyable as occasionally slipped in a good punch on one of my brothers when I had been taking it on the chin for several rounds. I was the youngest.
Upstairs, we played chess or checkers. Chess is one of those patient, deep-thinking, strategic games where logic is the muscle that most often gets flexed. I could play a few games of chess well and then I wanted to flip the board upside-down. Checkers went well with conversation or television but what I really want to do was read my aviation magazines or books, or just go downstairs and fight some more.
I also enjoyed building models of every kind. I built a lot of plastic airplanes and a few model rockets. I also tried to build one airplane from balsa wood which I never finished-it required too much patience. I did build one trailer-trailer model that had a lot of parts and was very enjoyable. I don’t enjoy painting and that tractor-trailer unit was testament to the fact however it really held together well. I always build things to last.
Probably the most-memorable indoor sport at the farm in the seventies was cards; smear or whist. The game was usually held in conjunction with popcorn, chocolate shakes and the Carol Burnette show. Our house was very small and really full of people but there we were; out in the country-warm, happy and learning to love life as it is-not as we want it. We didn’t know it at the time but we were falling in love; even when we fought each other, kinged a checker piece or played many hours of bumper pool. We were falling in love with life.