When I close my eyes, I see blue carpet in my mom’s living room. I also see gold carpet at my grandma’s house. I’ll go there first.
Now I’m sitting on the floor of grandma’s living room pushing all of my finger tips into the gold carpet so they leave ten little holes. I begin to count them as I hear my grandma in the kitchen. She’s asking grandpa if he’s kept a potato out because she’s about to start mashing the rest. We all know he doesn’t like his mashed since he had way too many mashed potatoes as a boy growing up on the farm. He always had a small bowl of his own boiled potatoes at our holidays. Oh, and grandma also wants to know if he has brought out the brie cheese to my folks, which means my sisters and I have time to play a game before we eat!
Okay, I’m back and opening my eyes now.
It’s funny how one small item we’ve held on to can stir up a whole bunch of memories. Just looking at this little, army green dish with a lid brings me back to a game I used to play with my sisters in the late 1980s and early 90s.
Here’s a close up of what I call “the penny dish,” and my nostalgic inspiration for this story tonight. Inside this dish is one of the spots where my sisters and I used to hide a penny when I was a little girl.
The hide the penny game
My sisters and I used to play this game where we’d take turns hiding a penny somewhere in the living room. It would either be at my house or my grandma’s house. I believe this dish was always in my mom’s living room though, the one with the blue carpet I mentioned above. The game was easy enough to play when we were bored, and all we needed to play was a single penny.
I think we always did it in the less used living room, opposed to the highly used family room, because there were more nick knacks. This meant more places to hide things. In both our house and my grandma’s, the family room was where the TV and fireplace was. The living room, on the other hand, was off the more formal dining room and had things like glass table tops. Because there was no TV in there, it was common for people to sit and talk. Sometimes my parents and grandparents might be sitting in the room watching us play this game while discussing something. Other times we’d be left alone and would play all by ourselves.
How it worked
Whose ever turn it was to find the penny would close their eyes while one person hid it. Once it was hidden, they’d have a chance to look all over the room to try and find the penny.
I loved to be able to touch all the breakable things my mom or grandma had in each room. Some things were glass and we’d have to be very careful not to break anything. We’d search under doilies on end tables next to candle sticks in tacky, fake gold candle stick holders. We’d look between the pillows and cracks in the couch cushions, or “davenport,” as my grandma called it. I’d get really low to look behind the wooden feet of delicate shelves holding delicate things. Some of the legs of the furniture looked like animal feet with claws. I’d even get on my tip toes trying to see if my slightly taller sisters tried to put the penny just out of my reach.
Hot or cold?
If it took a while to find the little penny, which you can imagine how long it might take, the person who hid the penny might give a little help. For instance, if I was looking one of my sisters might say I was “hot” if I was close. If I was really not at all close to finding it she might say I was “cold.” Once I found the penny though, I’d get a chance to hide it too.
Good old, Honest Abe
Tonight I opened up the penny dish, where I sometimes hid a penny, and found four old pennies inside.
One happens to be from the year I was born, 1982. Cool, right? Must have been why I saved that one.
The others are really hard to see what year they are from, but a closer look and I see a 1962, a 1970 and a 1988.
I made a little video so you can see how small it actually is with a penny inside:
I love remembering how simple this game was, and how entertained we were with such a basic thing. I’m not sure if kids today ever play this game, but I think I might try and teach it to the kids in my family at one of our next gatherings. Hopefully, we can find a penny to play with!
Did you play any made up games as a kid?
I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.