Monday, August 25, 2008

MEMORY MONDAY - HIT THE BAT

DATE: 1970's
PLACE: Grandma & Pop's backyard, Pennsylvania
PRESENT: Siblings and cousins and a few brave neighors sometimes

Once or twice a year, mom would pile me and whatever siblings were available and drive us 10 long, tedious hours to my Grandparents' house near Pittsburgh. We started out with gusto, singing the "Pennsylvania Song" when we hit the border, but quickly peetered out when we realized we still had another 8 hours to go - PA is a loooong state when approached from the northeast.

But the trip was always worth it. Endless bottles - real bottles - of Coke awaited us in Pop's basement fridge. A little circa 1960's thing that was reserved pretty much for Coke bottles. Awesome. Oh and Dilly Bars from the DQ.

If we were lucky, our ohio cousins were visiting at the same time. JO, my age (ok ok 3 weeks younger) and Carol, my bro Flash's age (ok ok a year younger) would play hours and hours of millbourne as we got older and were the only 4 kids around. Jo is the youngest of 5 in her family, conveniently matched up in years with the 5 kids in my family and yep, I'm the youngest.

We had 2 cousins in PA, brother sister, but usually Jimmy was the only one playing. He matched my bro Flash in age.

But better than millbourne, better than a race down to Teckla's for penny candy that would rot our teeth (and God help you if you bought anything GRAPE. Grandma hated the smell of GRAPE!), the best was Hit The Bat. Get the bat, the wiffle ball, and out back we'd go.

It's a simple game, really. You pitch to yourself, hit the ball, while the rest of the kids scramble to get it. If they catch it they're up and you're out, back to the field. if they don't catch it, they have to roll/throw it at the bat that you've placed on the ground. if they Hit The Bat, they're up, and you're back to the field. OH but if it bounces up off the bat and you catch it? You're safe and still up.

Simple game, right? Sounds almost boring? But for some reason it wasn't. we'd play for hours. Trying to hit it over the row of hedges and maybe even into the next yard where you had to "sneak" over or the people would yell at you, and the batter thought that was hilarious. Hitting it so far the fielders called "relay!" and go to throw it to a partner who would hit the bat for you. And then there were the Pop Flys that somehow went backwards so that someone had to go out the secret door to Pop's bedroom and get up on the flat roof to retrieve the ball. That was the coolest. "OH but Grandma we have to go up there - we won't fall don't worry!" (Telling Grandma not to worry was like telling the Pope not to pray).

Simple games in simple times. And age didn't really matter - even when I was five and my brother TJ 16, we could all still play together.

And what jogs this memory in my mind? This past weekend I went up to CT for my nieces' 11th birthday and my sister K's "Annual" party. This year we had Special Guests. WildJim (aunt and Uncle) made the trip and are spending time with my mom and dad. Saturday afternoon, we grabbed the bat and ball and started up a game. We meaning yes Me. And my sisters. And the Aunt half of WildJim. So what if she's in her 60's! Oh we did let my kids play, too. For a little while. there was the shrieking, the giggles, the "RELAYS" and the shoving each other out of the way to get to the ball. Did I forget to tell you that Hit the Bat is a contact sport??

Thanks K and J and Wildjim for bringing back great memories!

12 comments:

Suzanne said...

This is great....as a kid, cousins are the best friends ever to play with. Sounds like a good time you had...lucky you did not break anything. :)

hulagirlatheart said...

Ah, this reminds me of endless games of hide and seek and tag and mother may I and red light/green light with my cousins at grandma's house in the summer. Love those Wonder Years.

Jennifer said...

Ah! Life was so grand and simple. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

dkuroiwa said...

oh....this just brought back a flood of memories of growing up in a town small with my cousins and where everyone else was a friend, too. My brothers were talking a few years ago, after hearing some of the kids say how bored they were. None of us ever remember being bored when we were kids....no GameBoys, no DSs, no videos/CDs/DVDs, no I-Pods, no fancy bikes...but we spent almost all day long outside...playing...everyday, sometimes even in the rain. Kids today have to be entertained...it's pretty sad, isn't it!!
(yeah, I know...and I used to "walk to school, in the snow, uphill BOTH ways, 10 miles to school"!! ~~sheesh~~ I have officially crossed over the line, haven't I?!?!) :-D

I think I'm going to have a coke with some peanuts in it today...I wonder if I can find a Moon Pie somewhere.......
:-D

JO said...

Whoa there Nellie (totally intentional by the way!!). I think it is HIGH time to set the record straight about the age thing. Do the math my dear eldster - 16th of one month (with 30 days) and the 19th day of the next month means 33 days. So I am officially MORE THAN A MONTH YOUNGER THAN YOU - WHICH MAKES ME ABLE TO CALL YOU AN OLDIE BUT A GOODIE! (The Aunt part of WildJim taught me well my friend how to harass my elders).

Ya know, I watch my eldest with his cousins (whom he is blessed to have one 3 months older, one 4 months older, and one 6 months older) and cannot help to think back to these halcyon days. Scrambling over the hill to Teklas, hitting the Milbourne game in the hallway (or playing spirograph in the bedroom between pop and grandmas - remember that??) or even better - standing on North Seventh with one mischievous blue eyed cousin yelling "Poppie....Poppie....we aren't touching the bank" - While that same mischievous cousin gently tapped her toe on the embankment that he tried so hard for years to grow grass on - way before our time.

(An aside to the Gentle Readers of this blog - I would have NEVER done such a thing - okay...maybe with provocation from TGND!! See I was the official baby of the fam-damn-ly - which made me Teflon - and hence - golden)

Hey Cousin - what say we meet at North Seventh - hit Teklas for one more sugar high, snake a coke from the coal cellar, and head out back for one more Hit the Bat game. I will even let ya call Relay. The current residents might freak a little at two forty something women acting the fool (and I think it might qualify as B&E too)- but acting the fool and having a blast together was something you and I were always good at. Ah well....maybe in our dreams tonight. Right?? See you there??

Thanks for the stroll down a long forgotten memory. A toast to Memory Monday - it sure brought back some great ones for me.

(As an aside - is it weird that my word verification word tonight is duyuluv - DU YU LUV it??LOL)

Krista said...

A sweet, MillBorne! I'm so good that I can still beat my husband and he's the master at games (but had never played this one! ;)

Carol P. said...

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane! You left out buckets of chicken from KFC, and formal lunches with no serving from the store-containers and a ketchup bottle obsession. And Pop being annoyed by the barking dog next door as he sat on the back patio and read the paper. And as JO said, spirograph in the bedroom upstairs between the beds.

There's a reason we play whiffle ball in the backyard here at Casa de Duckfeet, and crazy-8s and Millborne...

The Girl Next Door said...

Yeah JO and Carol - I had forgotten spirograph!! But remember Carol, Grandma liked us CT Kids best - we never got KFC b/c we travelled from farther away and didn't visit as often. So all I remember are ham dinners and breakfast tables laid out like a formal dinner.

And JO are you libeling me with the implication that I, the oh-so-innocent-one could have acutally TAUNTED my Poppie with remarks about running on his bank? (The same man I used to call "Lynnwoody-Baby" just to get him to chase me?) I'm not sure I would have done such a thing. Yep, definite Reagan-itis, "I don't recall...."

thanks to Both for the additional memories. Gosh I miss those days sometimes....

Carol P. said...

The fried chicken was always bought in buckets. It was presented on platters. Ditto for the biscuits and mashed potatoes and coleslaw. Grandma would never settle for anything less.

And yes, I definitely miss those days too. I hope to be like Wild and playing whiffle ball when I'm in my 60s (and beyond)!

DF said...

Early on and until I was about 14 or 15, there were hedges on those slopes in front of Pop's house. At one point, your brother TJ and my sister L learned that they could roll a ball into the top of these hedges and it would bump around in there and come out random places on the sidewalk. Ask or remind TJ about the bee's in those shrubs.

It was only after I was a bit too old that Pop removed the hedges and went to grass, which would have made you and JO about 4. It was hard for all 95 pounds of him to push that electric mower up and down that bank. It still didn't stop me from sliding down the bank occasionally though.

Seems when our families got together at Pop 'n Grandma's, there was always something happening.

Anonymous said...

redoodplayed hit the bat with brother, cousins and neighbours in Montreal in the 1950s to early '60s. fabulous game and thanks for reminding me about relays. i don't know about you, but when we did relays, the person who received the relay throw had to hit the bat being held vertically with the grip in the batter's hand. hard to do, but the batter was in rough shape if the relay person was really close because how do you catch a ball bouncing of a vertical bat? you don't!
we played in the road in a residential neighbourhood; didn't have to stop too often for cars, though we hit a few parked ones and hoped no one heard or was watching. take me back. take me back. thank you!

Anonymous said...

played hit the bat with brother, cousins and neighbours in Montreal in the 1950s to early '60s. fabulous game and thanks for reminding me about relays. i don't know about you, but when we did relays, the person who received the relay throw had to hit the bat being held vertically with the grip in the batter's hand. hard to do, but the batter was in rough shape if the relay person was really close because how do you catch a ball bouncing of a vertical bat? you don't!
we played in the road in a residential neighbourhood; didn't have to stop too often for cars, though we hit a few parked ones and hoped no one heard or was watching. take me back. take me back. thank you!