Baumgartner Vaughan: The fun of ’80s kid games

Aug. 02, 2014 @ 06:58 PM

When I was a kid, we took dodge ball seriously. We played in public schools, and we hit each other hard with those dodge balls. No remorse. You dodged, or you got hit.

We even played military dodge ball. While my childhood memories have blurred edges, I’ll assume military dodge ball was the part of my youth spent at Fort Bragg. Military dodge ball means if you get hit in the arm, it’s a non-fatal wound so you just put your arm behind your back and keep playing. I’ll tell you what, playing dodge ball built character. So did having a family car with hot black vinyl backseats that were rather uncomfortable in the summertime. I lived within walking distance of every school I attended growing up. So much character, I tell you. Some might say now I’ve become a character.

It brings me much joy to learn that grownups at the YMCA at American Tobacco are holding a summer dodge ball tournament. The next one will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 8 at the Cage, that fenced in -- well, cage -- on the campus. The deadline to sign up is Monday, so check it out here if you want to participate. You might see me there with my notebook, recording the battle for posterity.

This past spring, on the field next to my son’s T-ball practices, adults played kickball. Kickball! Oh joy, another game from childhood repurposed for fun-loving adults. I must say the appeal of kickball as a kid, for me, had most to do with my ability. I liked playing sports in P.E., but I wasn’t very good at it. Kickball was hard to mess up. That ball rolling at you is easy enough to kick, even if I bunted it right back to the pitcher. I still kicked it! And that sound, that sound of kicking a kickball, brings back memories of dirt fields at Fort Bragg and later, Augusta, Georgia.

My son is making similar memories this summer. He’s in a day camp reminiscent of your basic 1980s kid summer. It’s not fancy. It’s kids eating lunch outside at picnic tables. It’s field trips and pool visits. It’s crafts. It’s water balloon fights. It’s kids coming up with their own games on the playground. It’s awesome, and my son has already asked if he can do it again next summer.

He asked me the other day to play two-square. This was not something I learned in the ’80s. “What’s two-square?” I asked. “There are fireworks, and an electrical line you can’t cross,” he said. Uh, OK. Finally I learned there’s a ball involved. And chalk.

One day I arrived to pick up my son, and another kid said to me, “We’re about to play hide and seek.” As in, come back later, lady, we are playing right now. I waited for them to play a round of hide and seek before going home, because summer means there’s time for a round of hide and seek.

I wonder if they’ve played freeze tag yet. Maybe I’ll suggest it.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563. Follow on Twitter: @dawnbvaughan