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Playtime was simpler?many decades ago

As a little girl in the early 1960s, I grew up loving the outdoors and wanting to be outside as much as possible. That meant in the summer months, I had my lunch outside as well.

At lunchtime, the kids in the neighborhood could walk from house to house using the connecting backyards and find someone who, too, was enjoying lunch outside and join them.

The girls and guys all played together most of the time. In fact, one of my best friends lived next door and he and I were inseparable and, of course, that meant being teased relentlessly.

Having a brother also gave me the opportunity to see how the boys spent their time during the summer. Sure, I enjoyed the Barbie dolls with my girlfriends, but when it came to adventure, building things and getting my hands dirty, the guys were the ones to be with.

We had tree forts, but unlike many of the ones that are built today, they were built by the kids themselves using whatever material scraps they could find.

The construction was precarious, and since it was built by 8-year-olds, it was always questionable as to how much weight it would really hold and who would be the first one to try it out. I preferred to just climb the tree and forgo the fort experience.

Our adventures certainly weren't the safest or smartest, but we didn't think of the consequences of what might happen.

We swung from grapevines over the side of the hill in the woods where most areas were not a straight down embankment, but rather a very long slope. If we lost our grip, we would roll for what felt like several minutes before reaching the stream down below.

When we reached the bottom, we would give a shout up top that we were OK and then start out on the long hike back up, but that gave us ample time to look at all the unique wildflowers, insects and snakes along the way. We quickly learned what poison ivy looked like.

The stream is where the salamanders and pollywogs were to be found and inevitably caught.

When we got back home with our find, we would wash out a fish bowl that once housed our beloved pet goldfish and put our amphibians in there, only to be released shortly thereafter.

Most of us didn't participate in organized sports. We were fortunate enough to have plenty of kids in the neighborhood all close in age so that we were able to form two teams.

Sometimes, the neighborhood cousins came for visits and joined in.

At any given evening or Saturday afternoon, there was a baseball game in someone's backyard.

The stream my neighborhood friends and I once visited is now dry and overgrown. In fact, the ravine we swung over no longer looks as frightening as it did when we were eight.

This generation certainly can't expect the kids today to enjoy the simple games of our childhood days or maybe even appreciate our explorations of the woods in our own backyard.

But we grew up together, learned together, laughed and cried together and were a family.

I think all of us were pretty lucky growing up together in our neighborhood.

Diane Schuster Scherer, who still lives in the same neighborhood, resides in Orchard Park with her husband, Alan.