Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Tent, Six Kids and Free Time

The year was 1967.  The place was the backyard of our Levitt built home in Bowie, MD.  The months were June-August.  The participants were six children, ranging in age from 3-10.  The draw was the yellow canvas tent, erected toward the back of that yard.

We were always a tight group of kids, bonded both by blood and by common experience, as we were siblings -- two girls and four boys, in that order.  Summertime was generally spent outdoors, if Mom had her way, while she remained in the house, knitting, reading, and occasionally interjecting "suggestions" of chores that could be performed, should any of us opt to escape the heat and relax indoors. 

We were not raised with television.  We were raised reading books, playing board games, chess, and bridge, but those indoor activities were preferred for rainy days and evenings.  Sunshine is good for children and so we got our daily dose, playing outdoors. So it was that the tent, erected in the back yard, became a place where we played, performing with each other and for each other. Sometimes neighbor kids were drawn to join in our fun.

A favorite role-playing game of ours was "church."  The tent was our church and either Jeannie (my older, much taller and wiser sister) or I would generally take on the role of the Priest.  The rest of the siblings, and any neighbors, were the congregation.  In our most powerful priest-voice imitations, we would recite the long-committed-to-memory words we heard every Sunday in our local Episcopal church.  Our tent-church, however, was limited to the reciting of the Lord's Prayer, the reciting of the 23 Psalm and rite of holy communion -- our wine being kool-aid and our bread being regular bread rather than the wafers we observed the adults consuming in the real church.

One would think this activity good for only a few minutes, but memory seems to suggest this favorite activity of ours lasted well more than a few minutes, and was repeated on a regular basis.  For years later, as an adult, long since my any attendance at an Episcopal service, I would flashback to that scene in the canvas tent, and the "script" would fall easily from my lips, the words bringing with them the innocence and simplicity of our youth.

Yesterday, during a family get-together at Dad and Lynne's, my sister asked if anyone remembered playing church in the backyard as children.  Without even a second of hesitation, though fifty years have passed, Ray, a mere 3 year old in 1967, and I, laughed at the memory.  Yes, we remembered.  As if it were yesterday.

I don't have any photos of those fun times, but enjoyed reminiscing about those memories with the four siblings present yesterday.  Thank you for the memories!

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