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Judy Spooner: A kid's summer hasn't changed

While at Cottage Grove Elementary School for Field Day, I saw kids doing things kids love to do. They were playing with hula hoops, running, sliding and eating ice cream.

While there is a huge difference in technology, today's kids are not so different from those I played with when I was a kid in the 1950s.

Husband Gary and I remember listening to and watching the Lone Ranger and Superman, who fought for justice. The bad guys got caught every time, as they did when Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were on the hunt.

Captain Midnight offered a decoder pin and codebook that made you a member of the Secret Squadron if you sent in the paper covering inside the lid on a jar of Ovaltine. Kids didn't really like the chocolate drink, but begged their parents to buy it in order to send away for the free decoder.

We also loved comic books. For a dime, we had an afternoon of adventures with Superman or Captain Marvel. We also read Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Archie comics.

The fastest way to make a new friend in the '50s was to invite someone over to your house to read your comics. We saved and traded them.

On a rainy summer day, I went to the bottom of my pile of comics. Reading them again was just as good as the first time.

Our comic book heroes were not so different from Super Mario or any of the video games for kids. The good guys still triumph over obstacles and kids will flock to your house if you have the latest version of the game.

Growing up in St. Paul, husband Gary and I remember guys coming into our neighborhood and demonstrating Duncan Yo-Yos. They dazzled us with tricks such as "round the world" and "walk the dog."

Gary can still do all the tricks. Bring a yo-yo to the Bulletin License Center and he'll be glad to demonstrate his skills.

I bought a yo-yo for 15 cents and tried to do the tricks but my yo-yo just went up and down.

Eventually, I discovered that the strings on the yo-yos other kids bought were looped around their centers so the yo-yos would spin.

My string was glued into the center post and, obviously, a knock-off.

I learned a lesson from American Life 101: You get what you pay for.

I never mastered the yo-yo, but I was the kid to beat on roller skates in my neighborhood. Today's kids race each other on skateboards and scooters.

Hopscotch is still being played; only the chalk now comes in colors.

While today's kids have more board games than we did, they still learn to play cards in summer playground programs that we played.

Though some games have been modified so they don't get hurt, kids still learn to cooperate while playing dodgeball, tag or Red Rover.

Summer, from a kid's point of view, still looks like it did in 1951 and Popsicle sticks still have the same terrible jokes on them.

"What kind of bird is always sad?" Answer: "A Blue Bird."

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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