Playground Antics at St. Albert's

We didn't have swings or slides or any other equipment while I attended St Albert's (1952-1961). I heard we didn't have a playground with swings and such since the liability insurance shot up. However, I do seem to remember a few swings being in the front yard right in front of the classrooms. Those may have come after I left in '61. They were not there later on when I taught there from 1974-1979.

What we didn't have in the way of a true playground, we made up with great baseball and softball fields...later on, even soccer fields. We had two or three baseball fields. The boys played with the boys and the girls with the girls. We brought our own softballs/baseballs, mitts, and bats.
The boys always had better equipment because they played on the Little League in old Fairview on a team called "The Red Devils." How appropriate from a Catholic school! They also had a bench! As evidenced on the picture below.


                                          Sr Mary Anthony and some of the boys from "61 - Dave Tissier, John Matthews, Roger Downey, Dennis Manda

 I remember one field being where the new church was eventually built. That was the field that "the girls" played on. The boys got the fancier fields behind the school with a back net and a couple of boards to sit on. They even had real bases! One of their fields was taken, however, when the diocese sold some property to the Illini Bank that was built in the late 1970's.

I don't ever remember the nuns coming out and playing or supervising us in the 50's. I think they watched from the windows. However, two nuns stand out as true athletes. In my sixth grade we had Sr. Assumpta. She liked to play hard ball both on the field and in the classroom. We loved her. I even have a picture of her playing on the fields at St. Albert - circa 1959. Notice the absence of the mall...just bare fields!!


                                                                              Sr Assumpta playing hard ball with "the boys".She caught a line-drive one day and broke a bone in her hand...and she kept on playing!

The other nun taught at St. Albert's when I did in the seventies. Her name was Sr. Olivia. The students absolutely loved her. She too got out onto the fields at recess and gave the students a challenge.

Picking teams was always traumatic for me. I was not athletically inclined so I was usually the last one chosen and often played left field. Trust me, I know where the expression...being left out in left field. If a pop up headed in my direction, I ran for cover! We often chose teams with girls from the class above and/or below us. Later, after we graduated from St. Al's, we played on the "real" diamonds in our CYO leagues. Keep in mind that "softball" was the one and only sport that we ever played. No soccer, no volleyball, no basketball, not even cheerleading!

I remember one year, when I was a sophomore, I think, when our motley crew actually won third place in the deanery playoffs. Don't ask me how we did it, but somehow we pulled it off. We did have some good players - Mary Beth Baricevic - catcher; Dana Valentin - first base; Karen Lee - second, Rosemary Brown - third base; Lynne Green - short stop... and me...still in left field and still dodging balls. Sidebar: The only reason I stuck with the team was because afterwards we walked over to Skip's that was caddy-corner from St. Albert. A true malt shop with red swervy stools and a real juke box. It was worth all the humiliation I suffered on our team. You see, we were in the East St. Louis Deanery and there were some ESL parishes that had dynamite teams - St Philip, St. Martin deTours, St. Cyril's. I do remember winning our first several games because we didn't play those teams until the very end of the season. Once we did...we got creamed. But, we DID get a trophy! Yeah, for St. Albert's!

I also should mention that at this time...we had no gym. That building was our church until 1968, when the round church was built. Somehow the boys did have a basketball team. I have no idea where they practiced. I just remember going to see them play at St. Adalbert's in ESL. I was in 7th grade and felt like I was truly a "teen" cheering our boys to victory (I think).

But I digress. Back to the playground. Since we didn't have any thing to play "on", we made up our own games or played games that were passed down to us in the oral tradition.

                                                                                                                     Jump rope

I seem to remember our class having a greasy old rope to do jump rope rhymes. We never did anything fancy like Double-Dutch, but we did see how fast or how long someone could jump. The trickiest part for me was know when to jump in and out as the rope kept turning. Some of the girls actually had their own jump ropes to jump on her own. Here are some rhymes that I found on the net that I remember from my St Al days, or from when I taught there, or from when my kids went there. :

I was born in a frying pan...Just to see how old I am...One, two, three...

dressed in yella,
went upstairs to kiss her fella.
By mistake she kissed a snake,
How many doctors did it take?

Mary had a row boat the row boat had a bell
Mary went to heaven the row boat went to
Hello operator give me #9
if you disconnect me I'll kick you from
behind the 'frigerator there was a piece of glass
Mary sat upon it and cut her big fat
ask me no more questions
tell me no more lies
the cow jumped over the moon
and let two chocolate pudding pies.

Miss Suzie had a baby, The baby's name was Tim,
She put him in the bathtub, to see if he could swim,
He drank up all the water, He ate up all the soap,
He tried to eat the bathtub, but it wouldn't go down his throat
Miss Suzie called the doctor, Miss Suzie tried the nurse,
Miss Suzie called the lady with the alligator purse,
Mumps said the doctor, Measles said the nurse,
Nothing said the lady with the alligator purse,
Miss Suzie kicked the doctor, Miss Suzie hit the nurse,
And then she paid the lady with the alligator purse

This next one was used for jump rope or a hand jive of sorts....

1. Clap own hands together
2. Cross arms in front of chest
3. Clap own hands together
4. Clap hands with partner three times

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.  (FYI - this is also a riddle...the answer: a coffin)
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For fifty cents, cents, cents
To see the elephant, elephant, elephant
Jump over the fence, fence, fence.
(As I remember the jump rope was held higher so it didn't touch the ground for this last verse)
He jumped so high, high, high
He reached the sky, sky, sky
He never came back, back, back
'Til the 4th of July, ly, ly!

I remember this next rhyme...but I'm not sure if it was from my days at St. Al's or my kids...

I wish I had a nickle,
I wish I had a dime,
I wish I had a boyfriend
to kiss me all the time.
My mom gave me a nickle,
my dad gave me a dime,
my sister gave me a boyfriend
to kiss me all the time.
My mom took back the nickle,
my dad took back the dime,
but no one took the boyfriend
who looked like Frankenstein

A sailor went to sea sea sea
To see what he could see see see
And all that he could see see see
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea

1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato, 4
5 potato, 6 potato, 7 potato more.
Acha bacha, cucaracha, out goes Y-O-U

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Turn around (turn around)
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Touch the ground (touch the ground)
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
Tie your shoe (hit your shoe)
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,
How old are you?

Down in the valley where the green grass grows
there sat Nette, sweet as a rose
she sang, she sang, she sang so sweet
along came Kenneth, and kissed her on the cheek
how many kisses did she get that week?
1, 2, 3, 4....

                                                                                                  We also played team games that, at times, could get brutal.

                                                                                                      Red Rover, Red Rover        

From Wikepedia:

The game is played between two imaginary lines, usually around thirty feet apart. Each team lines up along one of these lines, and the game starts when the first team (usually called the "East" or "South" team, although this does not relate to the actual relative location of the teams) calls out, "Red rover, red rover, send [name of player on opposite team] right over." or "Red Rover, Red Rover, let [name of player of opposing team] come over." or "Red rover, red rover, we call [name of player on opposite team] over."

The immediate goal for the person called is to run to the other line and break the "East" team's chain (formed by the linking of hands). If the person called fails to break the chain, this player joins the "East" team. However, if the player successfully breaks the chain, this player may select either of the two "links" broken by the successful run, and take them to join the "West" team. The "West" team then calls out "Red rover" for a player on the "East" team, and play continues.

When only one player is left on a team, they also must try and break through a link. If they do not succeed, the opposing team wins. Otherwise, they are able to get a player back for their team.

Added note: RÝver is a Norwegian word for "pirate", so perhaps the early British were showing bravery by daring the Viking raiders to "come over". The 1829 book titled "The Red Rover: A Tale" by James Fenimore Cooper describes the exploits of a pirate called "Red Rover"

Unfortunately, Red Rover got a bad reputation and is now banned on some playgrounds. It seems that some teams would not hold hands but lock arms together thereby cutting the runner almost in which case the runner usually lost her lunch. Or the team would hold hands but reach out as the runner approached whereby sucker punching the runner. Or, the runner could do "Chinese Chops" by holding her arms high and chopping her way through the line thereby brusiing or breaking the arms of the other team members. Okay, I'm sure there were some broken arms and many spilt tears - but nobody got killed...or at least I don't think they did.

                                                                                                                 Dodge Ball


Our class never played Dodge ball because we didn't have red rubber balls. However, by the time I taught there in the mid 1970's, the students did have red rubber balls and did play dodge ball. Now, there was a masochistic game if ever one existed. Some team members knew how to zero that ball like a rocket smacking the opposing member in the head, arm or buttocks...knocking them off their feet and leaving a nice juicy red welt. When played outdoors, however, the red ball always...and I stress the word "ALWAYS" ended up on top of the school.



I do remember playing this at St. Albert. I loved the mad scramble when they team guessed the mime.

September 1948, Hoosier Folklore, vol. VII, no. 3, pg. 87:
Any number may play lemonade. Two captains are chosen, and each chooses players, one at a time. The teams line up facing each other. Each has a home base. One team takes "it." That team chooses something to demonstrate, such as chopping wood or hoeing the garden. The "it" team says, "Here we come," and they start walking toward the other team. The other team starts walking to meet them. The (Pg. 88--ed.) second team says, "Where from?" The first replies, "New York." The second asks, "What's your trade?" the first answers, "Lemonade." The second says, "Show us something if you are not afraid." (The reply may vary. Sometimes it is, "Go to work.") The first team then begins to demonstrate; the second team tries to guess what is being done. There may be any number of guesses. If the second team guesses right, the first team starts to run for the home base. If anyone is tagged by the other team, he goes to the other side. It is then time for the second team to select something to demonstrate.


14 May 1982, Washington Post, pg. W47:
LEMONADE: One person is picked to be "It." Everyone else in a position to watch says, "Where are you from?" "It" tells his place of birth, The others ask, "What's your trade?" and "It" answers, "Lemonade."

Then "It" must act out a profession (cooking, carpentry, window washing, lobbying?) within the constraints of his car seat, and the other players have to guess what he is trying to be. When they he guesses correctly, the person sitting next to "It" takes on the acting role.

                                                                                                                Square Dancing


                                                                 No, this isn't at St. Al's cafeteria....but it could be

When I was in the sixth grade, 1959, ( I think), we were taught square dancing on Monday evenings. The cafeteria tables and chairs were put away and we learned to do-si-do. There was a man and his wife who were really into square dancing and it was a popular past time for many couple back then. So, we dutifully showed up to alla-mand left. I wish I could remember the callers name, but it escapes me. I only have one clear memory of this time - One day, my mom bought me a pretty blue dress. I remember it was royal blue with thin gold threads. I wore it to square dancing, and some boy from a younger class told me I looked pretty. I was so shocked that I don't think I even responded.