Ri-i-i-ing!  It’s the school recess bell! The black-topped fare of jump rope awaits!

It’s a passionate exercise for girls who are not allowed to climb the jungle gym to burn off energy from morning math and reading. It’s the day of the dress or skirt worn to ‘be a lady’ and exercise the mind only in the shiny wood-and-steel desks.

It’s not fair, you know, but the norm of the day is often not, grown-ups solemnly said then as now. Who supplied the rope and began the refrains of rhyme and rhythm, I no longer recall nor do I remember how it was determined who turned the rope and for how long. There was certain fairness, arbitrated by adult recess watchers, I’m sure, for I do recall that there was only one rope for our 4th grade cluster of girls and everyone participated.

It was a team yet individual sport. It was difficult to practice at home, so you just ‘went in’ and jumped. It was too fast for envy and too rapid for planning.  It was just ‘go!’ until you stumbled. And, if you stumbled, you got a black-top greeting you wouldn’t forget!

I do recall the continuous thwap as the rope twirled and tapped the black-top. Thwap! Thwap! Thwap! Can you hear it, too, just that cadence and intensity?!

I don’t remember who named the games or tallied the count of the jumps and I doubt if we combed our hair or considered the unkempt turn of a collar. Such cares were in the future when boys would be fundamental.  For now we were escaping the bounds of schoolwork cares at recess and the focus was in the muscles of the jump, jump, jump.

I do recall the anticipation, the elation, and the soft thud of the crepe-soled saddle shoes. Oh, how my mother mourned the quickly worn-down soles of those shoes that fall and I think that that’s how my jump-roping career ended. In her budget-conscious fretting, I am certain that I was shut out before snow fell and safety issues mounted. It probably happened before I had to consider how to keep the white toes white and the laces clean, too.



Oh, my – the worn soles of the saddle shoes, worn fashionably on the first day of school as desired, but thrown away by Thanksgiving.

Oh, my! Knees can heal with a band-aid and a kiss, but there is not monetary band-aid or a kiss for shoes that were loved to early demise at recess.

Oh my! There is not a way to heal the loss of youth, there is only sweet remember.