There were no radios playing. No hand held games usurping children's attention. The sun was warm. There was a nice breeze. The sheep in the pasture seemed content. The geese milled around by the pond. In the farm house a cold drink could be gotten from the ice box. And on the lawn in front of the farmhouse a game was in progress.
The ball was made of rags. The bat was a stylized stick. The bases were poles sticking out of the ground and the hitter stood between home plate and first base while waiting for the thrower to toss the ball. Any hit was good. Even if it went backward. Even if it went backward and over the fence. But then in the spirit of fairness, the runners who ran two bases had to go back one. The referee - a man in a straw hat sitting in a chair in the middle of the infield - made that call. Question the referee and you'll be fined a penny. One out and the other team gets up.
A lovely description of an afternoon spent in a time long gone, right? Well, right - but also a description of an afternoon spent at the Howell Living History Farm.
It was baseball 1900s style, and while the kids played for the Howell Farm Hogs, my husband, brother and sister-in-law and I sat with our backs to the sheep pasture and watched. If it took more than two or three swings to connect with that rag ball - it was okay (until the referee decided that the grown-up who swung hard but kept missing the perfectly good pitches had indeed struck out).
The game was scheduled to go for 20 innings. Which isn't too bad if you only get one out. But we had to pull the kids after the 11th inning because we had someplace else we had to be and wanted to explore the farm a little.
Exploring the farm led us to the granary where a woman was grinding corn for hog feed. Pippi and Harry tried their hands at it - and Harry ground over 7 pounds of corn, while Pippi helped the woman mix the right recipe for the hogs. Harry liked grinding corn so much he wants a corn grinder for home. Hmmm - even if we found one - where would we get enough dried corn?
It was a lovely afternoon, and it makes me yearn for days gone by. But even in these days it is good to remember that a lot of fun can be had with a ball made of rags, a nice solid stick and a bunch of other people willing to have fun with you. We don't need to spend a lot of money on toys for our kids - we just have to be willing to have fun with them.