Thursday, July 23, 2009

Red Rover, Red Rover

We moved back to Missouri in late 1965, and moved back to Arizona in the summer of 1966. While we were in Missouri, in the spring or summer, one time the kids in the neighborhood got together and played a game of Red Rover.

The game is played by choosing up sides, which then stand in two opposing lines, holding hands, with two or two and a half feet of space, more or less, between each person. The two sides stand a good distance apart. Then one side, after some discussion about who to pick, calls out to the other side, "Red Rover, Red Rover, send [chosen kid's name] right over," and the chosen one would then leave the opposing line and run across to try to break through the line that was asking for him {or her}. If he broke through, running into the hands that were being held and causing them to separate, his side won, if the line held and didn't break then that side won. Beyond that, I'm not sure now what the rules were. It may be that a score was kept, and it may be that if the person broke through the line, his side could keep sending people over until someone failed to break the line. I don't know anymore.

In the game, the neighborhood kids were of various ages, with two long lines of them. I was near the left end of my line, perhaps two or three kids from the end. I was in the seventh grade and tall for my age, and overweight. I was bigger than all the other kids, much bigger than almost all of them. Nobody tried to break through where I was, which was understandable but a little disappointing. I had been kind of hoping someone would try to break through where I was, but at the same time a little unsure about it, since there was a chance that I could lose.

Then one of the larger kids, somewhat athletic looking but a few inches shorter and much lighter than I was, was called. He looked at me with kind of an evil grin and started running toward me, toward where my right hand held the hand of a much smaller kid. If anyone on the other side could break through where I was, it was him, and he looked like he regarded it as a challenge he might win. As he got closer, though, his assured grin faded somewhat and his eyes looked uncertain, even fearful. He kept running determinedly, though, coming toward us very fast. I was worried, myself, and held very tight to the hand of the little kid beside me, and even closed my eyes briefly at the very last instant.

I hardly felt anything, just a slight bump.

I opened my eyes and looked. My hand still held the hand of the person by me. A wave went down the line, with the people swaying backwards and then forward. Near the other end of the line, it got so bad that one kid had to let go, to stop from falling forward. I didn't see the person who ran at me, though. My hand held, but he wasn't in front of the line, or behind it either.

Then I looked down and saw him, lying on his back on the ground, with his neck under my hand, which was still clasped to the other person's. His whole body was on the other side, with just his head on this side. He was rubbing his throat and moving his head back and forth, looking distressed. The game stopped for a while, to give him time to recover, and the kids gathered closer together, in groups, talking to each other. Perhaps the game even ended. He was eventually alright, though.

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Blogger pkm said...

I was rereading some of your posts today, Stephen. You crack me up!

6:38 PM, July 30, 2011  

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