Archive for Thursday, May 11, 2006

Kick the can

May 11, 2006

In the 1930s, we played kick the can at night at Fourth and Kansas streets under the only streetlight at that end of town.

In the middle of the intersection, we placed the empty coffee can in the center of a big circle, and as far as I can remember, there were eight or 10 boys that would play at once.

Most of our fathers worked at the prison. This was before daylight-saving time, and it got dark early in the summer months so we had lots of good night time to play.

Lansing was dark because at that time there were only about three streetlights in the whole town, and they were furnished by the prison.

Someone was selected to be "it" and you had to select an area to be the jail, which was a comfortable place nearby but not blocking the can.

To start the game the person who was "it" had to count to a high number while everyone else ran and hid. "It" would have to find them one at a time and jump over the can calling out their name. They, in turn would go to jail. If another player ran and kicked the can before "it" got back, he would be the winner and everyone else was automatically set free. Then another game would start.

This was a game of skill and strategy, as well as going as fast as our little bare feet would take us. Some of the strategy was that we would change shirts to confuse "it".

If "it" caught all the players, he would win that round and a new "it" was designated for the next round.

Can you imagine that many boys running and hiding at night in that neighborhood? Probably many parents who had to get up early the next morning did not like all the running in their yards. Nothing back then was "organized" by anyone but the kids.

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