This picture of my maternal grandparents, Asher and Hilda Gregory, encapsulates the spirit of my early childhood. Have we got rope and a piece of board? Great, let's build a swing!
And my grandfather's inventiveness didn't stop at swings. He once ran a length of cable between two apple trees and spent all day improvising a 'commando-style' pulley wheel, with hand-grips for me to hang on to. Halfway through my dangling, swaying, death-defying, trial run, it dawned on him that I wouldn't be able to stop before I reached the tree at the end. I heard him tell me to jump, which I did, landing unceremoniously in a series of forward rolls and uncontrollable laughter.
He was a big fan of 'French' cricket and badminton. We played croquet (home- made mallets and hoops, and recycled cricket balls) and even ventured into the surreal world of 'clock' golf.
Whenever there was a new craze, he would replicate it in his own inimitable style. But some fun things were the products of his own childlike imagination. I remember how he fashioned celluloid flying saucers and launched them with huge rubber bands cut from old inner tubes of worn out tyres. Given the strength needed, I think this was one for him, rather than me. There was a see-saw/roundabout combination that involved the use of a long plank and an oil drum, a tree house and a wooden box on a set of old pram wheels.
As I relate these things to you, I'm thinking it's probably luck that I'm here to tell the tale.
This is a Sepia Saturday post.
© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges