I never knew I was poor until I grew up.

I never knew I was poor until I grew up.

I definitely never considered myself as a hooligan either, and with all of our technology why is cutting a pizza so dang difficult?

After exploring my childhood days with my husband and children and reminiscing about the good ole days…I have now realized that I was dirt poor and such a hoodlum.

Mom didn't dress us to save on laundry.

To add some backdrop I will say that my mom was one of ten girls while growing up in a fatherless home in downtown Memphis, TN.  She became pregnant at 16 and never finished 9th grade.  She did however managed to bring forth 5 lives into this world, and she always worked, always kept food in our mouths, clothes on our backs, chores on our lists, and Jesus in our lives.  So she did her part, yet we were still left virtually unsupervised for the majority of the time.

So, on to my ruffian days…

We not only had my uncles come by numerous times to threaten our lives, but we also managed to have the local police chief visit us too, but in my defense we were very active and intelligent children with no cable T.V. and not a very wide selection of toys, so we had to be rather creative in keeping ourselves busy (or maybe it was all that Kool-Aid and sweet tea that we made our selves).

And creative we were, here is a rundown of some things we thought up in case you were wondering what hoodlum meant…I included sketches for some clarity and because I have a few more pages of my sketchbook to fill up for a project.

Baby Dolls:

The bags on those rolled up papers at the end of the neighbor’s driveway were perfect for doll substitutes, but not many people on our street got these versatile gems, so to satisfy all the girls in our play group we usually had to scout a few blocks to fill the need.  You then fill the bags from the hose, draw on faces, and voila…water baby and instant mamma duties.  Save the paper for later it has other uses.

You can't buy this much fun.

Roller Rides:

First discard all trash from the trash bin.  Then get lots of dish soap, the hose, and wash the trash can (with the lid on there can be quite a stench and not to mention maggots). Once clean, line the bottom with ye newspaper and stuff a friend inside, then run full force and let go so the bin and your friend go sliding down the street (we were blessed with a hill on our street so this worked quite well).

Alternative: 50 gallon trash barrels at the local elementary school and the drainage ditch beside the playground (sadly no luxury of soap and water but still loads of fun)

Driver Bluffing:

Have a sloping corner yard (think bunker) and use it to shield yourself from oncoming traffic.  Wait until a car comes down the road, leap to your feet and pretend to throw things at the car then hunker down again.  We usually had 8 to 10 kids doing this and so many cars would slam on their brakes or swerve thinking something was coming at them.  We never really threw anything except for one instance in which a water balloon entered a rear passenger window and burst on clean folded laundry.  We couldn’t have done that again in a million years!


Thankfully no one received broken bones.

Yes, we tried everything in the house to slow our leap from the roof of the house, nothing    ever worked and my mom never had a working umbrella.


Collect spare wood from anywhere (seriously I’m not sure where we got all the wood from or the nails, or the where-with-all to even make something stable).

Prop everything against a corner of the fence for extra stability.  We could sit on top of our’s and survey the streets (baby monitors and cordless phones double as walkie talkies).  Use hands or whatever to paint the outside and add seating from discarded cushions or mattresses.  This was our headquarters for shenanigans until my mom speculated we were killing her grass and so it had to be dismantled.

I guess it is true what they say about the innocence of childhood, because frankly I don’t feel as though I “missed” out on anything from childhood, except for maybe vacations, but people do die and sometimes you get to travel for that.



Hope you enjoyed my reflective post today.  My husband has learned to live with less (he was from the other side of the tracks) and I have learned that my kids aren’t all that bad, and also if I see kids in my neighborhood doing what I did as a child I probably shouldn’t call child protective services (or maybe I should?).


I did receive a broken wrist, though, from those monkey bars in the background.


2 thoughts on “I never knew I was poor until I grew up.

  1. Enjoyed all this. Pretending to throw things/ driver bluffing – definitely qualifies as Hooligan.
    We actually threw firecrackers from behind trash cans at the “new kids” on the block -(at that time – people pretty much stayed put – families that moved were rare)
    We loved to make club houses! Such scroungers we were. (At least our parents all knew where we were…usually pretty dirty, but in one spot)
    We didn’t have TV – but we were always building / making/ doing something.
    Nice post

  2. Never threw any firecracker…yes and throughout my childhood it was pretty much the same kids on our street until our teen years. I have now moved back into the same neighborhood in hopes to revive some of its life. We definitely did better without TV I believe. Thanks for reminiscing.

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