Childhood unplugged

A photo of Helen and her school mates taken by photographer G. Blakemore on May 17, 1932. Helen is ten years old and pictured in the middle holding up a ball.

As a girl I grew up with a whole street full of kids, and we weren’t looking at our telephones. We were lucky if we had one on the wall!

At one of the homes where I lived as a child, my backyard was the biggest on the block, with apple trees and dozens of peony bushes. We kids would string a blanket from one tree to another to make a stage, then put on plays. Neighbors would gather in the yard and sit on the grass and watch us perform.

We also played hopscotch and ball and had lots of races. In the summer, we picked berries and beans and took sandwiches to the caves in Battle Creek park.

One of Helen’s childhood homes in St. Paul, Minnesota.

I was a skinny little thing and on the fragile side, but I did things the older kids did because I didn’t want them to think I couldn’t do it. When I was about 12, I swam all the way across Carver Lake. And I must have had the biggest hands or the longest fingers or something, because I was the Jacks champion. I always had jacks and a ball in my hand or my pocket, whether in the classroom or outside playing.

Once, an aunt of one of my girlfriends bought us little dolls and taught us how to sew dresses for the dolls by hand. I think we only sewed about three dresses and then we quit and went back to playing out in the street. It was a lot of gosh darn fun being a kid!

What games did you enjoy as a child?

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