#562: Adventure!

GETTING MORE TALE #562: Adventure!

I was at a funeral recently, for an old family friend.  Sandor was a neighbor since I was little.  I grew up playing with his three kids: Rob, Michelle and Steven.  It was sad but nice to see them again.  We chatted about games we used to play as kids.  Atari 2600, Lego, the Game of Life.  The best games we played were the ones we made up ourselves.

One game that I invented with my best buddy Bob was called “Double Bounce Volleyball”.  It was just a good way to play with a volleyball on the street with no net.  I wrote up some rules on WordPerfect.  What I wouldn’t give to see those again!  What was not in the rules, but happened frequently anyway, was me throwing down some street moves.  I tried to do the spinny-spinny-jump dance that Paul Stanley used to do in the “Thrills in the Night” music video.  I could do it, but it didn’t look right anyway without the tassels on the pants!  Personal acrobatics aside, it was a great game because all you needed was two people, a street, and a volleyball.

Another game we invented was a live action version of the 1979 Atari classic game, Adventure.   Due to its poor graphics, it was once considered one of the worst video games on the market.  Since then it has somehow become a cult classic, despite the fact that your little “man” was just a square floating around.  You had explore mazes and three castles, and eventually bring a chalice back to the yellow castle.  The random setting for the game placed objects everywhere on the field so no two games were the same.

Atari Adventure man with sword and yellow key

The main objects in the game were three keys (one for each of three castles), a sword, a magnet (useful for grasping objects out of reach) and a bridge (pretty useless).  There were also some creatures to avoid:  three dragons, and a bat who would steal whatever you are carrying, and sometimes replace it with something less useful.  For example, the bat can and will steal your sword and replace it with a dragon!

A group of kids would gather together in somebody’s back yard.  Depending on how many kids there were that day, we might have used multiple back yards.  Someone would hide the chalice (a drinking glass) and other objects.  I had a neat classic U-shaped magnet that was perfect to fill that role.  We’d usually use clothespins for the keys.  A plastic lightsaber was our sword.  Then we’d all become adventurers, dragons or the bat!  We’d run around the yard finding objects and generally having a blast for the whole afternoon.

I think our live action game was better than the real Adventure!

One afternoon, another kid from another neighborhood joined us.  I don’t know why Allan Runstedtler was wearing a cape, but it suited!  Another time, we couldn’t remember where my magnet was hidden, and I really wanted it back!  We eventually found it and decided not to hide actual valuable objects again.

Do kids even go outside and play anymore?  Almost everything we did was improvised.  A badminton racquet wasn’t just a badminton racquet.  It was also a guitar for “air bands”.  Bob turned a neck brace into a Texas Chainsaw Massacre mask.  We also did a live action version of the video game Berzerk.  We were all very lucky to grow up in a tightly knit and safe little neighborhood.  Everybody’s parents knew everybody else’s.  We played video games (everybody on the street had either an Atari 2600, or a Commodore Vic 20), but then we went outside when that got boring.  It wasn’t just a neighborhood with families.  It was an extended family of families that we were fortunate to experience.  And a hell of a lot of fun.



  1. Fun post Mike!
    We still have a couple of computers at school that have word perfect, so if you find a floppy disk at with the Double Bounce Volleyball rules on it, I’d be happy to print them off for you (and a set for my kids!) :)
    We’re spoiled to live on a quiet street with several neighbourhood kids so I’m pleased to report that calling on your neighbour to go outside and play is still alive and well in Kingston!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Geoff, do you really have a computer there that can read floppy discs? No matter, I tossed them all out years ago. The files were all corrupt after so long.

      I’m glad you have the kind of neighborhood I grew up in. It was a great way to grow up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kids don’t play outside any more. My street has one of those traffic signs with the kid running after the ball, and there are hardly any on my street doing that.

    When we were kids, the neighborhood was our playground. Everyone’s yard was also our playground, and everyone tolerated it. We’d be kicked out in the morning and be drug in at night. I said to K that you don’t see many kids playing outside anymore. He said it’s because there are no more stay-at-home moms (his mom was one). I said that everyone in my neighborhood worked – there were no stay-at-home anyone. We played largely unsupervised and turned out ok. I can’t speak for parents today – I am not a parent – but there seems to have been a shift from kid independence to strict parental guidance. So now, parents keep their kids indoors and “safe”. I guess the 80s Stranger Danger “epidemic” scared them; I don’t know. Different times, I guess. But, I think I would afford some trusting and freedom to my kids if I had any. I think though, it’s easy to succumb to collective pressure from other parents who see that 10 year old kid walking to school by herself and think “Where are this kid’s parents??” and call the cops on you. It’s a litigious, volatile and judgy world out there.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The opening pages of the Bobby Orr book are great, he talks about this. You went down to the (frozen) pond, you played hockey. You chose up sides, you resolved differences and fights amongst yourselves on the spot, and the game went on. No grown-ups to run things. He said straight out that adults are ruining the spirit of the game for kids. I was reading that and thought HELLS YES!


  3. The best games were always those that you made up. Plus, it was all about being creative and using your imagination… how can that not be the best!?

    As for playing outside, I guess we live in different times. Between a heightened awareness of the dangers out there and the fact that video games and such like are just way more impressive than they used to be, it’s easy for kids to stay at home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think about some of the giant “bases” we made for Star Wars and GI Joe guys…digging trenches in the yard…little wooden huts out of twigs…

      The only issue is you didn’t want to lose any teeny tiny GI Joe guns in the grass, or the lawnmower would chew them up next time.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. For sure – the snow plows were the destroyers, as they only came around so often but it was a big deal when it did.

          We had an empty lot next to the house, so we had a huge network of tunnels.


  4. Mike, this is why I love your postings: your material refuses to be pigeonholed and is ever-evolving. I came here for the music, and I am staying for the evolution and the many different stories of life (though I still love anything about music you write)! I often wonder where all the kids have gone in the sprawling neighborhoods surrounding where I live (which is just a mile from where I grew up). I do think back to 1976-77, when I was just nine years old, when four young people disappeared and were killed in connected cases and “The Oakland County Child Killer” became one of the most notorious unsolved crime cases here in Michigan. I live (then & now) in Oakland County (which is a rather large area encompassing several cities, but it was scary as hell) and I remember my parents were very careful of my comings and goings, but I still played outside from sunlight to darkness, basically year-around. And yes, I did have an Atari 2600, and yes “Adventure!” was much more exciting in your mind than it was on the old Zenith TV with the wood cabinet! Thanks again for all the great stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do you remember the old 2600 Raiders of the Lost Ark game? I’ve been trying to play it again, and it’s a lot harder than it used to be!

      And thanks for the great compliment. I try to write about different subjects and I’m glad people (or at least one anyway) appreciate it. As I get older, I want to document these things. They’re important to the collective memory of the people and places I grew up with when I was discovering rock and roll. These are the people and places where the “firsts” happened and even if it doesn’t have much to do with music…it always has something to do with music :)


    1. At first I thought you said “putting on your SPEAKERS” and going to T-bone’s place…which actually works just as well right? Put 8 D-cell batteries in a boom box and you’re good to jam for a few hours outside!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As a parent of an 8 and a 5 year old, I can confirm that kids do still go outside to play with no real struture. It’s when they’re happiest. Sure, my boy wants to play road hockey or ride his bike sometimes, but I hear them inventing games and rules as they go, and it’s all good.

    We did the same things, as kids. I thought it was just because I grew up in a town of 300 people and so, with zero distractions, we HAD to come up with our own stuff to do! Glad to hear you city kids did the same things. I didn’t have a video game system, though. My first computer came when I was much older, the classic Amiga 500. But by then, it was a tool for school. I was so used to playing outside (or at the rink) that the thought of sitting inside to play games wasn’t all that appealing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My parents had a Lloyd’s “Pong” game in the mid-70’s. Then they got the Atari, and by then it was for them and us kids too. That Atari still works. We loved that thing and still do. It was built like a tank and what can you say about a game system that’s 35 years old and STILL WORKS?

      And the games were simple, fun, and short. You didn’t want to stay in and play long. 30 minutes and you were bored, and out you go. And then we’d invent the “outdoors” version of said game. Man those were such awesome times! By the mid-80s we had a computer…but none of those games run anymore, they are far too archaic.


        1. Better than my Timex Sinclair 2000. The 2000 stood for 2k :) We bought an expansion pack that gave it, I think about 16k, but slowed it down sooooooooo sloooooooooooooooooooow.


        2. Haha ouch. Well, the 500 needed a “workbench” loaded in to run anything, a disk you had to load, remove and THEN put in the program you wanted. The workbench ate up at least 250kb of the total 500. I would write high school essays and need 6 disks to save it!


  6. I grew up in the 60s and 70s where I did dangerous stuff like play outside, venture to the park to play whichever sport was in season that the time and God forbid, I rode my bicycle without a helmet. I bet anyone under 30 reading this thinks I was a real dangerman. I wasn’t I was normal. I was aware of stranger danger but used common sense. When I became a parent I would have been happier to give my boys more freedom, except their mother wasn’t so keen. I did take them to the park and encouraged them to play in the back yard as much as possible. Still, the lure of computer games was always an obstacle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh your bicycle comment reminds me of the time I went over a jump and split my pants! HAHAHAH!

      A few times every summer, you’d get hurt a little, no big deal. Your knees would be scraped skinless, you’d have a bruise, a sprain, a twist, or a bike crash. Every summer! It was part of the deal, right? So were grass stains in the laundry.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was all a part of growing up. While their mother and I were more protective of our children, my younger son was always getting bumps, scrapes and bruises. Then he was a total fearless Fred.


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