Childhood activities before video games

<strong>The Odd View</strong> Carl Sullenberger

The Odd View Carl Sullenberger

The Odd View Carl Sullenberger Odd View Carl Sullenberger

At the dawn of time we only had black and white television with five channels, two of them on UHF.

Now that I’ve dated anyone who knows what UHF and VHF represent, I’d like to take you back to a time when a game was animated only when the loser used some blue language.

The dinosaurs had just died out so it was safe for a teen like me to roam about. My venue was the Vermilion River and the state park in Birmingham. I do not recall ever asking permission to go to the park nor detecting any concern by my female parental unit about when or if I might return. I was predictable. I always showed up for supper.

My trusty BB gun and I would spend hours shooting at any trash floating down the Vermilion River. I ruined numerous tennis shoes falling into said river. Tennis shoes of that time where held together by Elmer’s Glue. One drop of water would force the shoes to curl just before the sole separated from the canvas and your toes magically appeared.

When I’d had enough target practice I’d hop on my mighty Schwinn and head for Vermilion or Wakeman. If you’re familiar with the distance from Birmingham to these two metropolises, you’d understand why I’d be missing for the better part of a day. The odd thing was I didn’t usually have a particular destination and never any money. It was just something to do so I wouldn’t have to mow the lawn or work the garden.

The garden was my father’s idea of a way to get free labor from me. I had to till, plant, and weed our corn, tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, pumpkins, and more tomatoes. Did you know you can have canned tomatoes for every meal? I still remember part of the canning process. As the jars of tomatoes that had been boiled in a vat on the stove cooled the lid would make a ‘pop.’ It meant another meal of tomato something.

I still like tomatoes but only have a couple each year. I eat them slowly so they have to suffer longer.

The long bike rides on Rt. 60 in either direction were perilous. Farm dogs were the issue. You couldn’t out-run them though they never actually bit you. They seemed to simply enjoy scaring the living daylights out of you. Being of the not-so-bright persuasion, I never thought about the dogs until I was about to pass one of those farms. I’d duck as low as I could and pedal as quietly as possible. How I could pedal quietly I can’t tell you. I can tell you it never worked.

I remember one pair of border collies on the way to Vermilion would nip at my heels as I pedaled furiously. Eventually they’d get bored knowing I had to come back the same way and then they could have a second go at me. I told you I wasn’t the sharpest tack in the box.

That’s how at least some of us spent our summers. Fall was even better for hiking in the woods and winter brought sledding in the park. I guess I did get some exercise. I can also vouch for the cardio benefits of farm dogs.

Only spring was a bummer with Ohio mud, rain, mud, rain, and more mud. I could have used some video games then.

Carl Sullenberger looks at the world from a skewed perspective and expresses a humorous view of life through the prism of his past and present. He can be reached at