Before Halo, before the internet, before screens, before instant, total, and demanded gratification. When “get your ass outside” meant you’d better do just that. Find your own entertainment, or else. Parenting used to be that way, do what you’re told. No pouting, no complaining, no questions. We really did live that way!
What kept me busy through the early to late 1960s? Apropos that we were dirt poor, my toy of choice was often dirt. Or more specifically, dirt clods. Chunks of fertile East Central Illinois farmland. My backyard resembling a game of Risk, army men and tanks and jeeps, miniature green extrusions of war. My generation’s tableau.
The field set, battles would begin. My single GI Joe general of both sides. My right arm the only weapon in the world. Alternating five throws from each side, taking down heavy armament first, then picking off standing and crouching and prone soldiers.
As our arms and conquests developed, the little green men were replaced by buddies that could throw back. Dirt clod fights were a staple then. Exploding clouds of dust leaving no doubts as to accuracy. Good honest fun. Except the one time I substituted a piece of gravel, striking Mike Bilaescki right in the mouth, he sported that chipped tooth through our remaining school days. I got my butt whooped good for that lapse in judgement.
Dad finally hung a hoop on the garage, replacing the clod wars. Wiling away days and weeks, try after try, perfecting my version of the “two handed set shot.” And it got pretty good. The only drawback was a defender. Too small to get the ball over y’all.
I still like to test my accuracy. Play my own version of Final Four. Still pickup a clod and give it a solid toss every now and then.
I’m still a Fair Shot.