Sunday, May 18, 2014

Playing Cars

Not long ago I was with some other women near my age when the conversation turned to games we played when we were children. All of us had fond memories of hopscotch, tag, jacks and red rover, but I was the only one who remembered playing a game my family called "cars." I wonder if you ever played it.

Cars was a game Mother encouraged my little sister and me to play when we were cleaned up for some occasion and she wanted us to stay that way until time to go. In fact, she often played with us, which made it even more fun.

Cars was a game of chance. No skill was required to win it, and a player's opportunities to win or lose came quickly and often, depending on the flow of traffic. There was no official scorekeeping, but the competition was fierce, and when the game ended, all the players had a sense of who'd had a run of good luck and who hadn't. There was some gloating.

The rules were simple: We took turns. We sat on the front-porch swing and watched cars go by. The first car that passed when it was my turn would be my car, and the first one that passed on Judy's turn would be hers. The goal was to get the best cars. Sounds boring, right? It was anything but.

On a busy traffic day, the game took on all the excitement of horse racing. Maybe even more--I doubt there's as much schadenfreude in horse racing as there was in cars. I was ecstatic when a shiny convertible passed on my turn and equally thrilled when a beat-up older model puttered by on Judy's turn. Judy was the same way. What made the game especially interesting was the fact that our house stood near the top center of a "T" intersection. That meant we could see cars coming from three different directions. When two or more approached at the same time, especially if one was much nicer than the other, we could hardly contain our excitement. We clapped. We stood up and cheered: "C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, C'MON!" We tried to anticipate which car would go past us first, and if an old or ugly one edged out a sleek, late-model beauty at the last second, I'm sure the neighbors on all sides must have been able to hear the groans of the girl whose hopes had been dashed and the joyous shouts of her victorious sister. Sister or mother. I was just as happy to beat Mother as I was to beat Judy, though I had the good sense to tone down the gloating when Mother got a rattletrap.

Judy (left) and Linda on the front-porch swing. Judging from Judy's smile, 
I'm guessing she got more good cars than I did on the day this photo was taken.

So, did you ever play cars? Or anything similar? I wonder if today's kids, used to organized sports and electronic games, would enjoy a game of cars as much as we once did.

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