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Once There were Children

Check out what I found!


The part about the rood screen makes me wonder-- did children sneak pockets full of tops and pea-shooters into church? Did they get caught with them, and have to leave them behind? I am sure then as now some frustrated parent or teacher might have said 'give me that."

I wonder if people back then said 'You cannot bring it with you unless you have enough for everyone.' Or 'What have you got in your mouth?'

The paintings show a world where kids had lots of ideas of games to play, and some adult must have made the tops and balls.  It makes me happy to think of children at play, then as now, watched over by adults with perhaps the same mixture of irritation, and fondness, with a little memory of the past thrown in.

As far as research-- not much help. I can give small Marlowe and Kyd tops, and knucklebones, dice, and balls. Archie and Horatio and Percy and Will might have blown soap bubbles, and had  kites maybe. Anything vaguely the right shape can be a toy boat, (acorns.) And finding something to throw and then throwing it is classic.  And I am quite sure, then as now, boys took sticks to play swords, or run around going 'bang, bang!' When they ran down a hill with arms out they were playing birds, not planes, but the difference is small.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2013 06:40 am (UTC)
Dorothy L Sayers' "The Nine Tailors" includes a character talking about hiding toys in church.
Jul. 26th, 2013 08:35 am (UTC)
And thank you for the link! :-)
Jul. 26th, 2013 10:41 am (UTC)
Maybe they just dropped them and didn't dare pick them up!
Jul. 26th, 2013 01:53 pm (UTC)
Bill Cosby once did a comedy routine about little boys teasing little girls by menacing them with a dead bird. I know that daughter had a little friend here who chased her with a dead mouse. He got in big trouble for it with his uncle (a man recently come from Yemen, which kind of goes to show that such pranks are not cool there either.) She felt badly because her little friend got spanked.
Jul. 26th, 2013 02:42 pm (UTC)
I had two older brothers, so I learned to be 'tough' and boyish, not squealing and running away from such things. I clearly remember being about 10 and having a neighbor boy terrorizing my friends with a worm (threatening to put it down the back of their shirt). I picked up the worm and chased HIM with it!! I got annoyed with 'girly-girls' who would squeal and run and not fight back!!
Jul. 28th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
dead animal chases seem the norm in various contexts ..
but I remember a crab in a bucket creating fasciantion

no one wonder the old fair and showpeople knew which fears created frissons ...
Jul. 28th, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
The crab in a bucket is a bit less alarming, as you've got at least notional protection against being pinched.

Worms and dead things are slightly ickier, and being taunted with the threat of unwanted contact is mean fun for the taunter and no fun at all for the tauntee.

*is glad that's over*
Jul. 28th, 2013 07:41 pm (UTC)
I knew most of what you'd said in the post (including kites, of COURSE kites. the apocryphal one Ben Franklin sent up with a key tied to it) but SOAP BUBBLES! I did not know that!

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )