Down the Bay: Making Your Own Fun


Posted on April 10, 2024 by Rachel Hines
Rachel Hines


Growing up Down the Bay, kids learned to make their own fun. They gathered to play games like kickball, four-square, and even their own game, top ball! With a little imagination, anything could become a toy. Many people shared memories of inventing toys and games in interviews for the Down the Bay Oral History Project.

 

“[U]ntil they called us in the house you know we’ll stay out there and play top ball. What we would do, we would get like a broomstick or a mop handle … and we would get these tops… and go out in front of her store or in that area, in that block and we would pitch these bottle caps to us. And tried to hit ‘em with a broomstick and like I said we’d be out there late, sometimes late at night and we’d hit them tops. My brother, Hank Aaron, Amos Otis, all them guys learned how to do that with those bottle caps.”

– Clauzell McCovey, 2023

 

Chinaberry seeds illustrated by Cass Bakotic.

Chinaberry seeds illustrated by Cass Bakotic.

 

“Used to have chinaberry trees… That was today’s version of paintball….They kind of grew—the cane grew up in the neighborhood, and we’d go cut down a cane and make your popgun.”

– Leonard Stiell, 2023

 

7up bottle

“I remember making a doll out of a 7-Up bottle. You know, you would go and somebody had some bamboo, and you would take the—we called it “hair”—off the bamboo and stick it inside the bottle, and that was our doll.”

– Denise Davenporte McAdory, 2023

 

Children playing outside a house Down the Bay. Photo courtesy of Mobile Housing Board Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama.

Children playing outside a house Down the Bay. Photo courtesy of Mobile Housing Board Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama.

 

“Have you heard of four-square? That’s with that same ball, and you bounce it from square to square, and you try to keep it going. And don’t forget when you were younger. Hide and seek; we did all that.”

-Anna Watson, 2023

 

Learn more in our exhibit, Growing Up Down the Bay on display at the Ben May Library from April 26 – May 31, 2024.


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