No Batteries, Just Fun

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

Did you ever play with a June bug? That’s the bug in the photo. On a walk several weeks ago, the June bugs were swarming along the path I took. Just in one area. I’m on first name basis with this bug and have never really been afraid of it even though it has a hard outer shell and can make a loud buzz sound when it flies. June bugs love berries, so if you’ve ever picked blackberries out in the field, I’m sure you’ve encountered a few of these iridescent green bugs. Japanese beetles resemble them, but they’re not as large and not nearly as nice a bug since those beetles love eating my roses and June bugs just like over-ripe berries.

Plus you can play with June bugs. Now some of you will probably think this is cruel, but when I was a kid, we’d sometimes tie a string around the June bug and have a bug on a leash. Why we wanted to, I can’t say. Well, maybe I can say. We didn’t have all those electronic toys to keep us out of trouble. The only thing my dad would buy batteries for were flashlights (not counting vehicle batteries) and you had to have a real need to dispel the darkness to be allowed to use the flashlight. LOL. Then I don’t think batteries lasted so good back when I was a kid. Else why would the flashlight go dim every time I got down into the cellar to fetch my mothers a canned jar of tomatoes or beans. Every time!! As you may be guessing, I was terrified that a snake or mouse or perhaps a Twilight Zone monster would be waiting to jump out at me down in that dark and dank cellar. I used my memory of that fear in my Hollyhill books and let Jocie feel the same heebie-jeebies going down into her cellar.

So with no iPhones to ask Siri the meaning of life, only a couple of hours of lame kids’ programs every day, and no games on computers of any type – well, no computers of any type – we had to come up with our own entertainment. Guess that’s why we tied strings to June bugs and let them buzz. We also used string to make crows’ feet and Jacob’s ladder by wrapping the string around our hands and put this bit of the string over this finger and that bit over that finger. Sometimes this involved the teeth to slip the string in the right place. Eventually you gave your hands a twist or a flip and there was whatever string marvel you were making. Then there was the trick of making a spinner out of a big button and string. We must have had a lot of string. 

We did have actual games too. We played solitaire with real cards. We drew circles in the dirt and knocked marbles around. Jacks were more my game. I could sit and play Jacks for hours. Now it’s almost impossible to find the metal jacks necessary to properly play Jacks. Too big a chance somebody might step on them or something.

Of course, there was always fun waiting outside. Mud pies to make. Grapevines to swing on. Trees to climb. Puddles to stir up with a stick. Lightning bugs and frogs to catch. Creeks to wade in. Woods to explore. Deserted houses with the idea of ghosts lingering to send shivers up our backs. 

And always books and more books.

I don’t think I’d exchange any of that for battery powered fun. How about you? Do you remember any of those things? What was fun for you when you were a kid?

Thanks for reading. And if you’re in the Frankfort area, you can come see me at the Gathering of Authors this Saturday, August 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Paul Sawyier Library. Lots of authors there to talk to about reading and books.