…and the Carolinas, and New York, and Vermont. In recent
weeks, the eastern seaboard experienced storms of monumental
proportions and frequency. Records were set for rainfall amounts,
consecutive days with rain and storm intensity.
Though we all agree we need rain to sustain the earth - and
ourselves - when the weather turns frightful it does impact our
activities, especially outdoor ones. Baseball games get cancelled,
the parks stay empty and the movie theatres stay full. Retail sales
rise and most indoor venues have crowds.
As a kid, the majority of my play time was spent outdoors. In
the summer, you left the house early in the morning and often
didn't return until dinner. If you got thirsty, you took a drink
from the garden hose. It only took one declaration of "in or out"
from mom to understand if you re-entered the house, you might not
be going out again.
But when it rained, we had to find things to do indoors.
Sometimes it was with friends, sometimes alone. I have vivid
memories of some of my favorite rainy day activities.
Our Barbie gatherings were epic. Every girl in our neighborhood had
at least one Barbie, though most of us had multiple versions of the
doll. The original Barbie had the long pony-tailed hair and came in
blond or brunette. Later on, the hipper Barbie appeared with a
short, platinum bubble cut. I think this was when I got the
stewardess outfit - one of my favorites. Then there was Ken, Alan,
Midge and Skipper - Barbie's little sister.
Once we determined whose mom was willing to let us converge on
their house, we packed our gear and walked down the block. We each
had a Barbie carrying case. Some had the single doll version while
others had the larger valise that held multiple dolls and scads of
outfits, all hung on those little plastic hangers. There were slide
out drawers for the shoes and accessories. All the shoes were a
slip-on high heel since Barbie's foot was in a permanently pointed
position. She even wore heels to the beach.
During the Barbie outing, there would always be at least one
wedding. The Barbie wedding dress was the ultimate outfit and was
typically given as a special birthday or Christmas gift. All of us
girls were mesmerized by the commercials for the Barbie Dream
House, but no one in my neighborhood ever got one. That was out of
our blue-collar price range. We made our own Barbie houses out of
You could always count on a puzzle marathon at the Van Cott's
house. Mrs. V. was a puzzle fiend and one was always in progress on
the dining room table. Mr. V. fashioned a piece of plywood so the
puzzle could be mobilized at meal times. Their basement held
shelves stacked with puzzles with pieces numbering from 500 to
2000. Mrs. V. taught all the neighborhood kids the tricks of
putting together a puzzle starting with pulling all the edge
pieces, creating the border and then sorting the remaining pieces
into like colors.
On a rainy day, you needed a game that took a few hours to
complete. Monopoly and Risk were excellent choices. In fact, a
really good game of Risk could span a few days. As I think back on
it, I wonder if our idiosyncratic methods of playing were signs of
habits we would carry into adulthood. Take Monopoly money. Some of
us separated it into denominations and carefully tucked the piles
under the game board. Others held the entire wad of cash in their
hands, peeling off bills as they landed on someone else's rental
property. Some hid larger bills feigning poverty until they landed
on Boardwalk and hastily produced the cash for the lucky buy.
Once my mother trusted me with the task of igniting the gas pilot
light, baking opened up a whole new world. My girlfriends and I
would find a recipe and then raid our respective pantries trying to
I could lay on the floor for hours, my head between the stereo
speakers. Bob Dylan, Chicago Transit Authority, Led Zeppelin, The
Mamas and Papas, and every Beatles album ever recorded.
Rainy days are different as an adult. Always fearful of wasting
time, it is a day to clean closets, do laundry, pay bills, balance
the checkbook and simply catch up. Of course with 15 days in a row
of rain, even those tasks can run out. If this weather keeps up, I
just may raid the attic and bring down my daughters' Barbie Dream
Cindy Phillips is a columnist for The
Mountain Times. She can be reached directly at