Marilyn Armstrong’s “Childhood Memories” Featured in Ojo del Lago This Month.

Published! I haven’t been published in a real magazine in years. Golly! THANK YOU JUDY YOU LOVELY LADY! If you need bigger type, you can read the original at:

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

Click to enlarge, then click to turn pages. Marilyn’s article is featured in the table of contents and is found on page 42.

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15 replies

  1. Just where was I when you wrote that article in the first place? I probably had no internet.

    Have been telling a play-experience I had last week in Switzerland, where at 9.15pm two young girls (around 8yrs old) were lieing on the ground, giggling, laughing, rolling about. I stopped and i said something like ‘hi girls; are you having a great time?’ and they giggled some more, sat up and said – yes we do – and you? I told them that yep, me too and wishing them a good continuation. They said: You too, have a nice evening ……. When I told that little episode, we wondered, where else but these ‘protected’ spaces, kids could still be kids….. They were playing on the grass, surrounded by 3 huge appartment buildings and while we chatted, a father in shorts came out of one of the doors, discarding a bag with household rubbish. He too just nodded friendly and got back in. Nowhere here, where I am now, you would dare leaving your kids out alone. My son was a ‘wild’ one and the first thing I taught him was learning to swim. He was away every free moment and came home when night fell. Just as you wrote. Lucky kids, lucky times!


  2. Wonderful news, Marilyn…congratulations! I love that piece!


  3. Congratulations, Marilyn! It is a great article and brings back memories of what it was like. And like you, I was much better at organizing games of imagination than playing sports or climbing trees. Depending on the time of year, we came home to street lights or the dinner bell. But, we had complete freedom without fear, except from the neighborhood bullies. They did chase me up a tree one time, where I stayed until my father came looking for me when I missed the dinner bell.

    Today, I live in a neighborhood where some school aged children play outside unsupervised by parents, riding bikes, fishing, and playing basketball, but not many of them. And I am in walking distance of an elementary school, a middle school and a high school, so I would expect to see more children outside. I don’t see kids building forts, jumping rope, or playing hide and seek. Kids lives seem very structured and busier than when I was growing up – 60’s and ’70’s. Life has changed. My children never went out unsupervised. – Again, congratulations on getting published. I really enjoyed reading your article and the photos.


    • My son was a very free kid, both in the U.S. and in Israel, but my granddaughter had trouble finding friends because we were so isolated from other children. There simply were no kids of her age in walking distance. Everyone lived miles away and she never learned to ride a bike, so she had to be taken everywhere. That was the downside of living quite this rural. There was the woods and when she got old enough, she saved every penny she had to buy an ATV so she could drive in the woods.

      I think a lot of people have scared themselves silly. They think that there are villains behind every bush, lurking. I think there have always been villains around, but today, with social media, we think they are everywhere, just waiting for our kid to show up.

      That was a pretty good description of childhood where I grew up and while it was sort of rural in its own way, I was lucky in that there were four other girls on the block close to my own age. We formed our own little gang 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on the publication, Marilyn! Seems like the rules for games were different back east. And stick ball wasn’t played out here in the West. Baseball was and Kick the Can. There were no black girls so we white girls had to jump “Double Dutch” 😉 (we didn’t call it that). We usually played with a hemp rope (ouch). Hide’n’seek was everyone hid but one person. Tag, you weren’t “out” you were “it” and had to tag people. We played “Red Rover” which is now verboten in many places. I love this — America was NOT then (nor is it snow) one big amorphous uniform culture.

    I agree that kids don’t seem to just go outside and play any more. They do, somewhat, in my little town, but generally, things are a lot more organized. My childhood was based on going to the woods on my own. The games were mostly for school and up in Montana with my cousins.


    • Thank you. It was a very pleasant surprise. It has been quite a while since I’ve been in print! I forgot how much fun it is.

      We didn’t play baseball because we didn’t own the equipment … or have a place to play it. Stickball was what you played when you didn’t have a bat or a baseball or a lot you could use as a diamond. Kick the can is (I think) universal. I never mastered two ropes and barely managed one.

      Hide and seek WAS everyone but one. First found (by day) became the new seeker. Last found (by night) became the seeker. “First by day, last by night” and I have no idea why. Not sure what Red Rover is, but there’s probably a similar game with a different name. We don’t have a homogenous environment, but kids’ games can be surprisingly international. Language changes, but the games, whether played in India, England, New York, or Montana, are close enough so a new kids from anywhere can figure them out. Even the little chants that g0 with the games are similar from continent to continent. Kids’ game are like bows and arrows, invented everywhere.

      Tag had a number of variations. It could be tag, you’re “it” or tag, you’re out — and the last person tagged is “it” — OR sometimes, the first tagged was “it.” But only ONE person was ever “it.” Oh, I forgot “place tag” where you had to “get free” by tagging a particular place, usually a tree or a fence. That’s what “home free all” was about. If you got there before anyone else, you could free everyone and whoever was “it” stayed “it” for another round.

      We played using old clothes lines because that’s what there was. We didn’t have a lot of “store bought” toys except for bicycles and many of them were hand-me-downs from mothers or brothers or cousins.

      The thing that has changed is the willingness in most citified areas to let kids go out and play without a parent or other guardian in charge. There’s a lot of fear going around. I often wonder if it’s any more dangerous now than it ever was or we have literally scared ourselves to death.

      Going into the woods, alone or with the other kids was a thing. Nobody seemed worried about the bugs, either. We were all covered in bug bites, scraped knees, and elbows. And dirt. We got dirty. I was often not allowed to touch anything until AFTER the bath. I think I got dirtier than most.

      Kids around here play outside and I’ve noticed they aren’t carrying phones, either. The boys go swimming, fishing, and biking. I’m assuming the girls do the same, but I have not seen them as often as the boys.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations, well done


  6. Well done, Marilyn. I agree, well deserved. 🙂


  7. Well done, and well deserved. Nothing like having work published.


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