Hey ma - I'm going out
Hanging out was our time, when we didn't have to deal with the annoyances of family life. We'd be with our friends traveling the range of our imaginations, placing ourselves at the heights of glory -- Koufax pitching against the Mick in a game seven; or down in the gutter -- inventing a new game with bottle caps. We were constrained only by ourselves and answered to no one but ourselves (perhaps until a fight broke out and someone went crying home to Mom).
We played all kinds of games, but most of our activities involved a ball. City kids played "official", "legit" ball games like baseball, football, and basketball - but we also had a whole range of less formal ball games to draw upon for fun. These games had simple rules, needed few people and took almost no time to get going. Some like punchball required some coordination (picking a captain and choosing sides), others, like stoopball were usually just a quick "pick-up" game with a couple of guys. The games could be the center point of attention, but they usually occurred while the main event, hanging out, took place.
That's how it was, just you and your pals. It wasn't about having your mom schedule a play date with another mom; it wasn't about organized sports (though we did do Little League). You didn't need organization, time, planning, parental approval, or equipment. You made creative use of the urban landscape. Fields of play were the sidewalks, streets, walls and stoops. Bases were cars, lamp posts and garbage cans. Equipment was minimal and usually consisted of typical household items, but there was one thing that was indispensable: a rubber ball.
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