Boys back in the good old days loved outdoor sports. And none were more prevalent than football, a game that was played from early fall well into the springtime when football kicked in. Even in basketball season, football gave it a run for the money. But even then kids were enamored by the electronic games that were new, albeit quite limited in what they could do, and they were great for a rainy or excessively cold winter day.
At the age of nine I received a Tudor electronic football game as an early Christmas present and I spent many hours with friends on gray dreary days imagining that these clumsy plastic magnetized players were real. We pretended it was the national championship college game, or the NFL championship, or maybe even the classic Newport News-Hampton High School Thanksgiving classic in the old hometown. We could dream up anything to wile away the hours when we couldn't go outside.
Tudor was the first company to create these games beginning in the late 1940s, I received mine in 1956 from a neighbor who was trying to cheer me up. It was early Christmas month and my dad had died suddenly right after Thanksgiving and I needed some cheering. It helped a lot and it was a magnet for friends in our sun room and that cheered me even more.
But when I think back about that game, the clumsy bouncing of the magnetized players as they moved about, collapsing in a heap on contact and only changing direction through contact, I wonder how we ever got a score. And a bunch of little boys arguing over holding? Oh, please. But it did spark the imagination and back in those ways it made us yearn for a sunny day so that we could play the game ourselves outside instead.
It did help me to forget my fears and make it through some bad days. That and a loving mother, good friends, adult men in the neighborhood who offered a kind ear if i needed, and a minister who treated me like a son. I'll always remember that old clunky game, not for the game itself but what it did to boost the spirits.
And for those of you who read my blog yesterday about a sad little Scottish boy in 2017, you'll know why I wrote it. I wasn't going to dwell on my own father's death way back in 1956, exactly two days from tomorrow, but I'll never forget how it changed my life.