Playing with rocket balls
Sometimes I feel wistful about olden days, and by oldenI mean the 1970s (egads, I sure am dating myself), when kids were happy to ride their bikes, play baseball and hide and seek until it got too dark to see.
The toys were simpler back then, and perhaps, in a way, more fun. (Agree? Disagree?) Sometimes I just wonder if we kids were more resourceful.
When you were a kid, did you ever play with a dead tennis ball wedged in the cut-off leg of your mother’s old pantyhose? I did, all the time. It was a great toy for something so simple.
- Take a pair of old pantyhose* and cut off one leg.
- Push a tennis ball as far up into the toe as far as it will go.
- Tie end.
* (My mother’s pantyhose came in plastic eggs, remember those? They were called L’eggs. Ha ha.)
Anyway, that’s it. And, if you cut off the other leg, and stuffed it with a second ball, you GOT TWO. Genius!
I bet if you were so inclined, you could tie a ribbon to the end to make a longer, fancier tail, but that was up to you.
For the sake of today’s post I decided toÂ call this invention a rocket ball but I doubt that this was the proper name for it. Was there one? I think we just called it a-tennis-ball-in-your-mom’s-old pantyhose.
Not only was the rocket ball great for winding up like a lasso and for throwing long distances, but we also played with it against a wall, holding the loose end while flinging the ball end wildly all around us. There was a song that accompanied this action – while the ball flew dangerously to either side, above our heads and between our legs – but it eludes me right now.
I was reminded of the rocket ball a couple of summers ago while shopping at a local toy store. I was browsing the section of the store that had loot bag loot; smaller playthings like wind-up toys, dice, paper butterflies, etc. That’s when I saw it. Their version of the rocket-ball toy was about 18 inches long (I’m guessing) and made of brightly-coloured nylon. The toe (or what would normally be the toe if it was made out of old pantyhose) was a little more aerodynamic. It came down into a loose cone shape which wasÂ slightly weighted, perhaps filled with some kind of beans. The cone was covered in a layer of foamy material. Maybe so it would hurt less on impact (?). It was pretty lightweight, and I wondered if it had enough heft to go any kind of distance.
I glanced at the price: $1.99. Considering what it was, I totally thought that was a fair price and thought about buying it for the girls.
I didn’t grab it right away, we were there on a birthday-gift buying mission, but I wandered over a second time and took it in my hand for a closer look. I realized I had misread the price. It wasn’t $1.99, it was actually $11.99. Crazy! Twelve bucks for something I could make myself out of a few recycled materials.
I’m going to save my next pair of tights (I have a silvery pair that is well past its prime) and stuff it with a couple of old tennis balls. If the kids don’t play with it, at the very least the dog will get a couple of new toys.
What about you? Did you have a rocketball? What on earth was the rhyme you sung with it? Did you make any of your own toys when you were a kid? If so I’d love to hear about it!