In the late 1960’s, a musical group called The Rascals made a song called “Groovin”. It became their most successful hit and is still delightful to listen to.
A few days ago, I heard one of the band’s members Felix Cavaliere doing a cover of the song. Naturally, I kicked my heels did a little strut and started to sing along.
As things would have it, my young granddaughter just happened to walk into the room at the same time. She heard me singling lustfully about “Groovin on a Sunday afternoon.”
She asked me, “Grandpa, what did you do after school or work when you were young?” The days of my youth flashed by in a blink and I began to tell her about how we would spend our afternoons after school or a hard day’s work.
When I lived in the countryside, primary school would end around 2:30 pm since some children had long distances to walk to get home. Many of the children could not afford shoes and attended school barefooted. But that did not prevent them from enjoying their school days.
After school, a group of us would head to the ball field for some cricket or football. We would play but would ensure that we left for home before 5 pm. There was always some little chore which your parents wanted you to do when you got home so as to instill a sense of responsibility. Then you would have a bath and clean up in time for dinner.
Dinner was at 6 pm sharp and by 6:30 pm., the dining table had to be cleared for the children of the household to do their homework. Even in the homes of the rich, many children did not have their own desks and homework had to be done at the dining table. By 8:30 pm, the homework would have been finished and my parents would allow us to join them in some game: a card game, LUDO, Snakes and Ladders, draughts or Chinese checkers or the next hour would be spent reading a book, which had to be approved by your parents. Some parents would sit and recap their days while the children listened attentively.
This was the afterschool routine in many households. And the children did not turn out too badly. No one said they had a terrible childhood. You could be poor and still have a wonderful time.
Weekends were a treat. After doing your chores on Saturday morning, you had the rest of the day for yourself that you would spend with your friends or heading to the nearest ball field to either play or watch a competitive game or listen to one over the radio.
In my household, cinema was only allowed once a week, usually on Sundays if you had the money to do so. My parents, like many others tended to feel that too much cinema was not good for your academic development.
The cinema in those days was an experience. There were usually two movies which were shown and the cinema was also a place where you met up with persons. When you were not at the cinema or looking at a sporting event, you could be simply going for a walk and groovin’.
There was no television in those days, no video games and no internet. Life was simple and fulfilling. Children read a lot including comics which were generally discouraged in my household.
These days, television, video games and the smart phone dominate. I have seen some children’s heads buried in their smart phone when being driven home. They hardly take the time to observe the scenery outside. And when they reach home, their heads are still bent and looking at their smart phones.
Of course, there were some children who did not have it that easy. After school, many of them had to go and work on the farm or in the kitchen garden, milk the cow or attend to the livestock. Girls generally had a lot of housework to do.
But there was always time to relate stories, meet up with friends and go for a walk, and in the case of the boys, go for swim in the sideline trench or venture into the backdam.
That was how life was back in the day. You would be surprised at how much got done in the time after school and on weekends. It was not the most prosperous of times but it was, at least for me the best part of growing up.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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