I’m talking about hide and seek/spotlight in the park. The corner dairy, hopscotch, four square, go carts, cricket in front of the garbage bin and inviting everyone on your street to join in, gutterball, handstands, elastics, footy on the best lawn in the street, slip’n’slides, the trampoline with water on it (or a sprinkler under it), hula hoops, jumping in puddles with gumboots on, mud pies and building dams in the gutter.
The smell of the sun and fresh cut grass. ‘Big bubbles no troubles’ with Hubba Bubba bubble gum. A topsy. Mr Whippy cones on a warm summer night after you’ve chased him round the block. 20 cents worth of mixed lollies lasted a week and pretending to
smoke “fags” (the lollies) was really cool. A dollars’ worth of chips from the corner take-away fed two people (AND the sauce was free).
Being upset when you botched putting on the temporary tattoo from the bubblegum packet, but still wearing it proudly. Watching Saturday morning cartoons: ‘The Smurfs’, ‘AstroBoy’, ‘He-man’, ‘Captain Caveman’, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’, ‘Jem’ (trulyoutrageous!!), ‘Super d”, and ‘Heeeey heeeeey heeeeeeey it’s faaaaaaat Albert’. (Argh! That’s the modern kids. What about Kimba the White Lion, Gigantor and Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, or Stingray and Captain Scarlet? Space 1999 and the really scary Dr Who – Patrick Troughton and the cybermen?) Or staying up late and sneaking a look at the “AO” programmes on the second telly until the ‘Goodnight Kiwi’ shut the telly off for the night.
When After School with Jason Gunn & Thingie had a cult following and What Now was on saturday mornings. When around the corner seemed a long way, and going into town seemed like going somewhere. When running away meant you did laps of the block because you weren’t allowed to cross the road.
Sticky fingers, goodies & baddies, cops and robbers, cowboys and indians,riding bikes til the streetlights came on and catching tadpoles in horse troughs. Going down to the school swimming pool when you didn’t have a key and your friends letting you in, drawing all over the road and driveway with chalk. Climbing trees and building huts out of every sheet your mum had in the cupboard (and never putting them back folded). Walking to school in bare feet, no matter what the weather.
Running till you were out of breath. Laughing so hard that your stomach hurt. Pitching the tent in the back/front yard (and never being able to find all the pegs). Jumping on the bed. Singing into your hair brush in front of the mirror, making mix tapes (not CDs)…
When writing ‘I love….? on your pencil case, really did mean it was true love. “he loves me? he loves me not?” and daisy chains on the front lawn. When bluelight disco’s were the equivalent to a Rave, and asking a boy out meant writing a ‘polite’ note getting them to tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Sleep overs and ghosts stories with the next door neighbours. When pillowfights, spinning round and falling down was cause for the giggles and the worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team.
Eating raw jelly and raro, making homemade lemonade and sucking on a Rad, a traffic light popsicle, or a Paddle Pop… blurple, yollange and prink! Traffic Light drinks at Cobb’n’Co! Collecting WWF and garbage pail kids cards.
Water balloons were the ultimate weapon. Weetbix cards pegged on the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle. You knew everyone in your street – and so did your parents. It wasn’t odd to have two or three “best friends” and you would ask them by sending a note asking them to be your best friend.
You didn’t sleep a wink on Christmas eve and tried (and failed) to wait up for the tooth fairy. When 50c was decent pocket money. When you’d reach into a muddy gutter for 10c.
When it was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at the local Chinese restaurant (or Cobb’n’Co.) with your family. When any parent could discipline any kid, or feed her or use him to carry groceries and nobody, not even the kid, thought a thing of it. When being sent to the principal’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited a misbehaving student at home.
We were in fear for our lives, but it wasn’t because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! Some of us are still afraid of them!
Remember when decisions were made by going “eeny-meeny-miney-mo” or rock, papaer, sissors. “Race issue” meant arguing about who ran the fastest. Money issues were handled by whoever was the banker in Monopoly and terrorism was when the older kids were at the end of your street with pea-shooters waiting to ambush you, or the neighbourhood rottie chased you up a tree!
Having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot, and your biggest danger at school was accidentally walking through the middle of a heated game of “brandies” or “slaps.” The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was boy/girl germs, and the worst thing in your day was having to sit next to one.
Birthday beats meant you didn’t want to go to school on your birthday. Scrapes and bruises were kissed and made better. Taking drugs meant scoffing orange-flavoured chewable vitamin C’s, or swallowing half a Panadol. Ice cream was considered a basic food group. Going to the beach and catching a wave was a dream come true. Boogie boarding in the white wash made you the next Kelly Slater. Abilities were discovered because of a “double- dare”. Older siblings were the worst tormentors, but also the fiercest protectors.
Now, didn’t that bring back some fond memories?
If you can remember most of these, you’re a Kiwi legend. Good on ya!
Read on 9 August 2007 on Radio Rhema by Rob Holding.
‘Till next time…