Having Fun – Family Time
When they weren’t working, families found time to have fun, with neighbors, friends, relatives and each other. With little money to spend on entertainment, families enjoyed new board games such as “Monopoly” and “Scrabble” which were first sold during the 1930s. Neighbors got together to play card games such as whist, pinochle, canasta and bridge.
Elroy Hoffman says his family didn’t have a radio, so they played cards or dominos. “My Dad and I always played race horse rummy.”
Also, they played records on a phonograph. Baseball was popular – to play and to watch (in person, not on television). Some families had fun putting together puzzles with hundreds of pieces. They put the puzzle pieces on a table in the parlor and different members of the family worked on the puzzle when they had time after chores or on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes it took several weeks to assemble a hard puzzle with lots of pieces.
The Apetz brothers used objects from around the farm to make their own toys. For example, they made bows from tree branches and arrows out of roof shingles. Delbert says they used the hub of a wagon wheel to make a rolling toy. When Delbert and his wife had children, they got together with friends whose children were the same age. They played hide-and-go-seek or drop the handkerchief with the children. He says, “You didn’t have no money to go no place. You didn’t have no money to go down and buy the kids an ice cream cone or anything like that so you just stayed home.”
Louise Dougherty says her favorite form of entertainment was reading, especially when her father, a lawyer and judge, read aloud to her.
Even though farm life was difficult in the 1930s, children growing up in that era found ways to have fun just doing “kid things.” Ruth Nettleton enjoyed ice skating and roller skating, and loved riding in the back of the hay wagon. Harvey Pickerel remembers racing the neighbor boys on horseback on their way to school. As a teacher, Merna Bailey rode her horse to school, too, but she loved seeing the birds along the road to school.
Thurman Hoskins says his favorite summer fun was riding a bike and going fishing. He moved to York after his mother died and loved the Nebraska winters because he loved throwing snowballs and ice skating.
Sometimes just being together as a family was fun. Birdie Farr says “it was a lot of fun” to be one of eight children growing up.
Written by Claudia Reinhardt and Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. First written and published in 2003.