The children of 80s… The children of the streets

The children of 80s
Close to winter holidays I always feel somewhat nostalgic and sentimental. Today I felt like browsing through my childhood pictures and as a result came up with this post.

I was born in a little town Tomsk, which is hiding in the pine forests of Siberia, Russia. When I was seven, my family owned a two-bedroom apartment in a five-story condominium building in a…well, let me call it uptown or sleeping quarters. The building was the exact copy of dozens or even hundreds of other buildings placed in a certain order around the neighborhood. Those were the Soviet times. Everything had to look the same – buildings, clothes, furniture, cars. People were deprived of choices. The choices were made for them by the caring communist government. But despite of certain weirdness and in some cases even absurdity, I always remembered those times fondly. That was my childhood and those were great times: fun and active, free and happy, barefoot-and-loose-hair kind of times!

We were the kids of 80s, “the children of the streets.” We spent an enormous amount of time playing outside. In summer, when there was no school and the weather was warm and nice, we were out all the time. Our parents had to make tons of efforts to drag us back home for lunch or dinner or any other legitimate reason (or at least as they thought it was).

Almost every kid had a bicycle and we were riding our bikes pretty far from home. I mean we were riding bikes alone, with no adult supervision, with no cell phones in case of emergency and our parents having no clue where we were. Being an adult now, I realize how dangerous it might have been (in today’s America those parents would probably be sued and found guilty for negligence), but it was a normal occasion back then. And for us, kids – this freedom was happiness.

In the 80s kids didn’t have many toys to play with; we used our creativity instead. One of the games we played was to make buried treasures. We would find some kind of a paper illustration, like a candy wrapper, and a piece of broken glass and we would bury the paper with glass on top. Later, we would find the places where we buried the treasure and we would dig a hole just to check, whether our treasure was still there. It looked sort of cool, like a little piece of art under the glass.

Another game we played was called “the grocery store.” This one was rather simple. The dummy of a counter was built of any found around stuff, like bricks or wooden boards. The food was represented with stones, leaves, grass, seeds and anything else we could come up with that reminded a particular kind of food. There was one or two salespeople and the rest of the kids were customers. The money was nothing more than the leaves of the trees. When someone was short with money, he would run to the nearest tree to pick some more and was good to go. Those were the good times indeed!

In summer there were always a lot of flowers in our neighborhood. Every house had little yards in front of the balconies of the first floors. The owners of those first floor apartments were usually in charge of gardening and keeping the yards beautiful. So they did and, to the delight of children, the yards were full of blooming flowers of all different kinds. Flowers were usually girls’ domain and girls used to invent many games with this requisite. My favorite was “the beauty salon” and my favorite part was to make a manicure with flower petals. This is quite easy and fun. You choose a flower to your liking, pick the petals, dip one tip of each petal into water and place it on your nail. Once done – you can’t touch anything or do anything to prevent harm to your new beautiful nails, just like after a real manicure. Once we did our nails, we would walk around the neighborhood feeling gorgeous and lady like, having simple talks and being overall fancy.

By the time it was getting dark we were generally supposed to come home or at least to play near the house we lived in. It was a common thing when someone’s mom would come out to the balcony and scream out loud, “Masha, hooome!” The kid would reply something like, “I am coming, Mooom!” and without a move continue the game. In a few minutes the situation would repeat itself, and then it would repeat again. Finally, the desperate mother would go outside, find her child and drag her or him home paying no attention to the fierce resistance. One by one all the kids would be taken home, except for a couple of the luckiest ones, whose parents in the turmoil of things would forget about them until a really late hour. Eventually, even those would go home and the yard would become completely silent, enjoying a few resting night hours, until the sun would rise and the intimidators of the yards would start their destructing activities all over again. 
the  Soviet Union kids
Old childhood pictures
Old black and white photography
Old black and white photography
 the  Soviet Union kids
old black and white photographs

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    1. Denny plays "grocery store" game too! I'm usually the only customer of his store though... .using leaves, stones, sticks, etc. He always comes up with this idea.

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