La Bella Fontana

Report from Bellefonte PA, by Helen Fontana Bechdel

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Children an integral part of any town

A story ran in The New York Times last month that described a shortage of children in some major cities. In Portland, Ore., the number of school-age children has gone up by only three in 10 years. Seattle has more dogs than children. Schools are closing.

It is hard to imagine a town without kids, because here they are such a vital part of the town, with more than 3,000 enrolled in the school system.

And now with warmer weather, indoor activities are switching to outdoors, and the kids are coming out to play. Hopscotch squares and chalk drawings are back on the sidewalks.

The toy store downtown is stocking up on kites, boomerangs and rocket cars that run on baking soda.

Sandboxes and swing sets are seeing some action. Down at the playground, boys are shooting baskets in a game that never seems to stop.

Everyone has wheels. Bicycles, pedal cars and sleek silver Razor scooters stream past my porch. A girl on in-line skates swings down the street. Kids drive by in their battery-operated cars like kings of the sidewalk.

Some games kids play are the same ones children have played for generations. Rhett Walsh, owner and manager of Pure Imagination on High Street, sells real metal jacks, but mostly to parents or grandparents who plan to teach the kids how to play the game. Paddle balls are sold out right now, but marbles and jump-ropes are in.

I'm not sure if kids know the old jump-rope rhymes -- "Cinderella," "Down in the Meadow," "Teddy Bear" and my favorite "A, my name is Alice," where you jumped in on a letter of the alphabet and finished the chant with examples such as "My husband's name is Adam, we live in Arkansas, and we sell apples."

The sidewalks of a town are part playing field, part parade ground and part art gallery.

Rhett says that his idea of opening a toy store in Bellefonte began when he attended a yard sale on Linn Street, noticed the chalk drawings on the sidewalk and thought how neat it would be to have a shop in a town where street games were still played.

When I was growing up, I knew every bump in the sidewalks because I traveled them on my skates, the old type that locked onto your shoes. My skates were second-hand, but I didn't care. When I whizzed through town, the wind was at my back and I felt as if I could conquer the world.

5 Comments:

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger anna said…

    I appreciate your information on swing sets. I just bookmarked your site and will be back regulalry to keep on top of it. Please check out my blog on swing sets exposed - I'd really appreciate it

     
  • At 1:57 PM, Blogger Casper said…

    I really liked the information on your blog about swing sets I have my own swing sets exposedblog if you would like to come and see what I have on mine

     
  • At 3:16 PM, Blogger natalie said…

    I really liked the info on your site about swing sets - nice work. I've just started my own swing sets secrets blog and would really appreciate you stopping by

     
  • At 4:03 PM, Blogger Smartie said…

    I appreciate your information on swing sets. I just bookmarked your site and will be back regulalry to keep on top of it. Please check out my blog on swing sets exposed - I'd really appreciate it

     
  • At 11:18 PM, Blogger Jim Naka said…

    You have a great blog here! I will be sure to book mark you. I have a toddler toy site. It pretty much covers toddler toy related stuff. Check it out if you get time :-)

     

Post a Comment

<< Home