Michael Rustad Memories

Childhood Games in the 1950s and 1960s


In the era of video-games, DVDS, and MTV, children have a large

number of recreational activities that are relatively passive. In the era

before quality time was spent with children, children devisedtheir own

free-time activities. During my first seven years, ourfamily lived in

Humboldt which was a paradise for kids because of the surplusof kids.

Across the street, there were the Diamonds who had a largefamily. Mark and

Joyce Baldwin, Verne & Sarah Hunt, Bob and Dotty Boatz,Allan and Haze

Lofberg, lJoe and Alice Giffen, and many other coupleshad large families.

The Tri family lived in a house adjacent to ours and alsohad a large number

of kids. In the summer months, there was also a varietyof cousins around.

For example, Tom Brown's cousin from Ely Minnesota frequentlyvisited as did

Ollie Easter's grandchildren. The town was under 200 with175 kids.

 

One of the activities of summer and late fall was a town-widegame of

hide and seek. I once made the mistake of hiding on thetop of Chester

Hatherlee's shed where he resided many hours of the daychewing snuff and

relaxing. Chester really blasted me for my wanton actof upsetting his

peace. We had an abundance of hiding areas. In thosedays there were a

variety of sheds, barns and storage areas available. BillSylvester, for

example, had several little storage sheds to keep the gardenutensils in for

his huge garden. The "hide and seek" games wereall inclusive and children

of all ages participated. Humboldt had a baby boom ofsorts and many of the

participants were born immediately after the war. Theolder kids--Lorne

Lofberg, Amy Johnson, Dennis Diamond, Nancy Diamond, BobRitter, Paul

Hunt, Bob Giffen, and many others set the ground-rules. The younger kids

followed the rules or were forced to leave. There were no "time-outs"in the late
1950s. You were either on the bus or off the bus.

 

Another game that I remember well from the late 1950s andearly

1960s was the rubber gun games generally organized by TomBrown and David

Boatz. Participants included: Jeff Lofberg, Brian Lofberg,Susi Stewart and

many others to numerous to name. We would first craftthe primitive guns

from wood and then spend the day cutting rubber band ammunitionfrom Don

Brown's abundant collection of old inner-tubes. Many ofour games were

played in and around vacant railroad cars. In those days,we had an active

Great Northern Depot and trains serviced the area. Wehad an etiquette when

shooting rubber guns? Even if we had an adversary cornered,we were not

permitted to shoot someone in the face.

Impromptu baseball games were a very regular featured gamein the

summers. We played our baseball games near the presentDennis Diamond

residence. We also had a large number of games in Diamond'spasture. Again,

this was the day before soccer homes and organized youthactivities. Our

little school did not have a baseball team nor was thereany adult in town

willing to sponser an American Legion team. However, weplayed in those

Humboldt "fields of dreams" even though theywere quite overgrown with grass.

I remember being quite intimidated by Jeff Lofberg's fastballs. We all

collected baseball cards and learned about bean balls andfast-ball pitchers.

I believe that Jeff Lofberg's model was Ryan Duren knownfor his speed,

Coke-bottle thick glasses, and wild pitches. Jeff plunkedme on the back so

many times that I had a very high on-base percentage. He plunked me on the

head several times which is why I do not have a more accuratememory of those

games.

 

In the early 1960s, we played a large number of footballgames. My brother

and I would play one on one tackle football game. This was a game in which

someone got a bloody nose or bruise every game and that was when the gamewas
uneventful. I remember that we would tackle each other sometimes flingingthe

other guy to the ground without want disregard for the consequences. AsMary

Boatz remembers, kids of all ages and sizes played in touch football gamesin

town. Tony, my brother, and I would organize a number of those games tobe

played in the long lot next to my Grandparents house in town.

 

The field had very unusual features such as clothes linesin the

end-zone. I remember that we had our regular participantsincluded younger

kids including Guy Getschel, Steve Borg, and yes, evengirls such as Mary and

Beth Boatz. There were no real injuries in the touch gamesand lots of

scoring. The best defense was when the clothes lines woulddeflect passes.

The clothes lines also caused a number of passes to beintercepted. When I

was 13 or so, I was playing on that field and slipped onthe dew and I got an

elbow in the ribs which caused excruciating pain. I hadseveral bruised ribs

and remember being tended to by my Grandmother MargaretRustad. It took a

day for me to breath without suffering unbearable pain.

I would be remiss to mention that we also devised a largenumber

of games and adapted the rules of standard-bearers suchas kick the can,

crochet, and "around the house." "Simonsays" was another favorite of mine

when I was 8 or 9.

For children of the 1950s and 1960s, there was no conceptof toy guns being

hazardous to the development of children. Every boy intown had replicas of

Davy Crockett's rifle or Roy Roger's pistol. I was sofond of my Roy Rogers

complete cowboy suit that I refused to change into my pajames.

Many of our games centered around renactments of battles. I would

sometimes use some of my Grandfather Rustad's World WarI equipment. Many

of the kids in the town could find World War II equipment. Many of ourDads

served in the war. Burton Turner, for example, was a driverfor a Marine

General. My Dad served in the Navy. Don Brown was a Marine. We had an

abundance of World War II paraphenalia but nothing thathazardous. I

remember that we would often have bullet belts with spentammunition in the

belts. We would sometimes use rubber guns as our chiefweapons in these

battles which could last for hours.

 

Bicycle riding was another preoccupation of kids and Idid not own a

decent bicycle for most of my childhood. The bike I learnedto ride on was

far too big for a 6 year old and had huge tires. I didmanage to eventually

get rolling. On my first successful ride, I ran rightinto the side of

Louise Docken's black sedan. I caused damage to the sideof the door but was

much more concerned about losing my lunch box in the accident. I hope that

other children of the 1950s and 1960s and other decadeswill contribute to

our Red River Valley social history.

much more concerned about losing my lunch box in the accident. I hope that

other children of the 1950s and 1960s and other decadeswill contribute to

our Red River Valley social history.