I survived Black Friday! This was, in part, because I decided to properly honor Thanksgiving by staying at home and eating delicious pie, and then delightfully sleeping in the next morning. And when I finally ventured into the cold on a day known for sales, steals, and brawls, it was in the afternoon after all the crazies had left to sleep off their all-nighters.
Still, going in and out of stores, though fun, can grow tiresome, and at around 8:30 pm I was ready to call it a day when my Mom and I went to the Provo Riverwoods.
Suddenly I found myself in Blickenstaff, an old fashioned toy store with goodies new, old, and remade. It's a fun place to visit, and I quickly grew nostalgic over an era I never lived in, mainly the 40s-50s. Ironically those were turbulent times, but I think it's the innocence and honesty of the times I long for.
As I walked around I spotted a large barrel of marbles, each for a whole $0.29, and my mind went to two places: The first being "Hook," which I watched on Thanksgiving, remembering how Tootles "lost his marbles," and then getting them back by movie's end, overjoyed; and the second was my remembering elementary school, hanging with the boys while playing marbles. I have so many scattered memories of my younger days, but I remember quite fondly laying on the dirt, circle drawn, as I tried to knock out fellow kids marbles, and not lose my own.
Playing marbles was an age old pastime, which Schulz captured several times in his comics, even going back to 1955, an early indication of this game's popularity on the schoolyard that somehow lasted into the 90's. I remember when my 5th and 6th grade teacher, Mr. Bloomstrand, let a couple of girls and I pick out a free marble from a large jar full of colorful glass balls. I picked a purple/white marble that has managed to survive these 20+ years, mainly because I never played it in a game in fear of losing it.
When I was in the 6th grade the game was banned, thanks mainly to a few kids who cried and complained over losing all their marbles, ruining it for the rest of us (a foreshadowing of life, really, or a sad omen for the future, encouraging a generation of poor losers and wimps. I think losing marbles builds character.)
Pogs then became popular, they we're literally everywhere, and an easy replacement to marbles, until the school banned them as well.
But then this all got me to thinking, I was born in 1982, which makes me a millennial, spanning those born between early 1980's to early 2000's, and yet I don't really relate to those born in the last half of the millennial range.
Those of us who were born in the early 80's remember record players, remember VHS's and cassette tapes, remember a time before the internet existed, remember when music was able to fit on a CD and then an MP3. I remember going to the little arcade at Pizza Hut to play games, before my family splurged on a Super Nintendo (I had to visit friends homes to play the original NES.) I think I truly belong to a micro generation that spans two eras, the post analog and the pre digital. That's where I belong.
I remember a simpler time. I remember marbles and cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers. Staring up at a clear night sky with no light pollution. I grew up on Star Trek the Next Generation and Road to Avonlea. I'm somewhere between those two as well.
iPads didn't exist in school, we didn't need them to learn, we had books, and that was good. We weren't taught towards tests. We learned to cultivate our imagination.
I think I've gotten off topic.
Those beautiful pieces of spherical glass.
A game I was never great at but enjoyed, and learned a lot, too. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And there are real consequences to winning or losing. There isn't a participation award, you either win or lose marbles, no in between. You learn to be a good sport. You learn to enjoy the win: It meant something, because you earned it.
Every generation needs to learn how to play marbles.