Hear The Stories

Guest post by Mary Collins

Hear the Stories

Mary Collins, the author of American Idle: A Journey Through Our Sedentary Culture, collected these stories of outdoor childhoods by interviewing different generations of Americans. Find out in Mary Collins’ own words how this project developed and how you can share your own memories of kickball, sardines, capture the flag and other outdoor games.


Connie Cain (b. 1924) grew up in Pawtucket, RI in a family of nine children. Hear her recollections of the outdoor games she played in the twenties and thirties.


Nick Lavnikevish (b. 1920) was raised an only child in the Boston area. His father, a blacksmith, lost his job in 1929 and his mother, a seamstress, supported the family. Hear the stories of the outdoor games of his childhood.


Candace Barrington (b. 1957) grew up in Texas and remembers when the adults watched from lawn chairs as the kids played “kick the can” during summer evenings. Hear her story.


David Horan (b. 1963) grew up in Stratford, Conn., an agile and athletic child. He developed Multiple Sclerosis as an adult, which makes him appreciate his memories of outdoor play even more.


Gil Gigliotti (b. 1961) grew up in a suburb outside of Cincinnati, Ohio and spent hours outside with his two best friends playing “war” on the borders of their rapidly expanding housing development. Hear more of his stories.

Connie CainNick LavnikevishCandace BarringtonDavid HoranGil Gigliotti

Stuck indoors? Have your kids visit Amtrak’s KidsDepot. Click on “Parks” or “Playground” and find fun online games that teach about nature and the outdoors.

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