As a child, I always looked forward to summertime and getting out of the house to play outside. The cold Chicago winter was gone and the sun would kiss my face the moment I stepped out, blessing me to enjoy the day. Nothing compared to the beauty of being outside and all the fun things I would do on a summer day.
Siblings and friends
My parents, Gabriel and Fannie, produced seven wonderful children, five boys and two girls. We always had each other and our friends and never expected our parents to take us to activities that would cost money. With seven kids, that could get expensive. Our outside activities didn’t cost a thing. I would take a clothesline and use it to jump rope; “Double Dutch” was my favorite. Two people on each end would turn two ropes and I would hop inside the ropes and start jumping. I would crisscross my feet and turn around, never missing a beat as the ropes turned faster and faster. Even now, the Seattle Double Dutch Divas that attend community events in Seattle yell for me to join them, which I’m glad to do, in my full Seattle Police uniform.
Games and the playground
After jumping rope as a kid, I might find myself playing “Patty Cakes” to the song of “Old Mary Mack, Mack, Mack all dressed in Black, Black, Black.” I would play jacks, marbles, or paddle ball with my siblings and friends. Best of all, I loved going to our small playground – which was full of fun activities each and every day of summer. I loved to climb to the top of the “Monkey Bars” and hang upside down. On the swings, my friends and I would pump our legs until we got so high we could almost touch the sky. We loved the “Merry-Go-Round” — we would push it hard and then jump on and often others would keep pushing it ‘round and ‘round and ‘round, faster and faster. We were so dizzy when we got off and could hardly stand up and walk. So we’d jump back on and do it again! After that, we’d play “tag,” and I remember great times of playing “Hide and Go Seek” or “Simon Says.”
A big dare
My sister and five brothers were very athletic, and I would always do what my brothers would do. One summer, my brothers climbed to the rooftop of our school building, Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School, and I followed them. Once on top, they stated they were going to jump off and wanted me to follow them and jump off also. They jumped off and landed safely. When it was my turn to jump, a sudden fear kicked in. I couldn’t let my brothers know I was afraid to jump. It was a scorching summer day — I could feel the sweat on the tip of my nose. I looked at my brothers, who were waiting for me to jump. I looked at the spot where I wanted to land. I gathered my strength and I jumped. I safely landed on the ground and back up we went. It was like we were Superheroes.
The call back home
We all knew what it meant when the streetlights came on. It meant we had a short amount of time to run home. This was our curfew warning. The playground emptied quickly, with so many of us rushing home. Playing and running home is how we got our exercise — and we enjoyed every bit of it. None of our play cost money and it was in our neighborhood. My mom or dad would watch us from our apartment window, ensuring we were safe. I couldn’t wait for the next day to get out in that beauty and start again.
The family activity I loved the most was my dad taking us all to the big Amusement Fair named Riverview Park. We got to go on rides, including my favorite, the Rollercoasters. We would walk for miles at this Amusement Fair, walking from ride to more rides. The memories of my mom and dad having fun with us kids were so beautiful.
Det. Cookie Bouldin is a member of the Seattle Police Department and established Det. Cookie Chess Club at the Rainier Beach Community Center 17 years ago as a way to engage with the kids and build community. She believes the game supports both cognitive development and instinct in youth and adults.The Det. Cookie Chess Club, for new and experienced players ages 7 and older, meets every Saturday, noon-2 p.m. at Rainier Beach Community Center.