The concentration on her face was evident as she pondered her next move, she squinted at the squares that had been roughly drawn in yellow chalk, and she carefully maneuvered the course after passing the rock she had thrown. Her “beat that” glance at her opponent, who was also about 6 or 7 years old, and the triumphant hand on her hip showed she was proud of her turn at the Hopscotch board. I couldn’t continue watching because the traffic light beckoned me forward, but I can tell you this – I played a mean game of Hopscotch back in the day; and for the record, it wasn’t just squares stacked neatly on top of one another as you typically see today. Our set up was one that included triangles, a rectangle and a half circle – I know you’re impressed. I was also lucky enough to have something other than a rock as my place marker. (at least I thought it was lucky). We lived close to a Cobbler (Shoe repair shop) and the owner gave us rubber heels to play with – they were the old ones he replaced with new on the shoes he repaired, and they worked perfectly for the game. After practicing with the heel, I learned how to throw it to make it land the way I needed it to, being careful not to throw too hard or have it land too much to the side causing it to bounce - that certainly wasn’t good. The object of the game is to have your marker land in the shape (going in numeric order) and then hop through all the other shapes to the end and back. If you touched a line while hopping, hopped out of a shape or lost your balance and fell, you were out; your marker stayed where it was and your turn was over. First one getting their marker through all the shapes, won.
For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the Cobbler but I remember the heel, and the joy I had tossing it like it was yesterday. I can tell you over the years, every time I see a Hopscotch board, I've always wanted to hop through it. Maybe to see if I could still do it or maybe to remind me of those summer days of playing outside with no worries; but I never have - maybe because as adults we are far too serious - far too often.
So, I've decided the next time I see a Hopscotch board, I'm jumping through those shapes. I've also got some rubber heels on my "watch list" on eBay. Thinking that this may just be a tradition I start with my grandkids some day. I'm already thinking how to personalize them so they're ready when the time comes. I'm also thinking the next picnic I help plan may just have a friendly game of Hopscotch on the list of things to do and you better believe I'm gonna ask to go first!