Taking steps back with homemade stilts

Lynn Moncus

If you watched the parade on Route 66 last Saturday, you saw a couple of very tall people striding along on their stilts as if they were accustomed to walking at that height and speed on all occasions.

Just watching them walk so easily certainly brought back memories of earlier times when many of us wandered around on stilts – a different kind of course. Ours were homemade and certainly weren’t very fancy or even very dependable. If we could walk a whole block without crashing, we thought we should receive an award. We didn’t look as graceful as those two because we had to hang on to the wood so we could maintain some kind of balance and avoid heading in all directions at once. I don’t think I had very good balance to begin with and had plenty of trouble standing on those little ledges before even trying to take a few steps. Walking on grass or on the ground was much safer than trying to go any where on the sidewalks because the landing was much easier on either of the former than on the latter. Crashing on cement was usually bruising and skinning experience. The grass was really better unless it had too many rocks to cause further pain.

As I recall, we just withstood the pin and went on about our business most of the time. Once-in-a-while, the injury might be more bloody than usual and would cause us to go to the house for a little doctoring and a lot of sympathy before returning to begin all over again. Maybe we just withstood pain in those days better than some of us do now because we rarely complained about those skinned knees and elbows. Were we to fall that hard today, we’d probably break a bone or two and might even think we should go to the doctor to get those skinned places bandaged or stitched.
At this age, were I to fall as hard as we did then, I would have to do some extra thinking in order to get back on my feet again because just getting off the floor almost requires a block and tackle. I tend to forget that at times when Aggie wants to play. Getting down on the floor is just as simple as it ever was, but getting up poses all sorts of problems and causes a bit of groaning and moaning as joints creak. Aggie thinks we are still playing because I tend to crawl to the nearest chair in order to begin to get self upright. I even accuse her of laughing at my predicament, but she tries to look very innocent as she dashes around tossing her toys to see if I will catch them.

When we were falling off those stilts, crashing into things on our skates, and landing on the ground form the highest branch of a tree, we had no idea we would come to a time in which we couldn’t be very active. At this point, I can’t even imagine doing some of the work we used to do out home. Now, I’d have to start all over by carrying a lard bucket of water and would probably have to rest along the way. Carrying a small bundle of feed to the corral might take several trips, and moving a bale of hay would be impossible without taking a block at a time. I might be able to lift a saddle onto a horse but probably couldn’t put a foot into a stirrup, much less swing into the saddle.
This woman from Ima is just glad we had such lively games in those early years and that we can remember what fun we had. Although I don’t see children playing outside today, I hope they are at least collecting good memories so they will be able to look back and smile.