No Wonder My Kids Think I’m Old

Published On September 14, 2018 | By Carrie Buchanan |

We were walking a few nights ago and came across chestnuts on the sidewalk and like I do every year at this time I started telling my oldest daughter about how much I used to love collecting chestnuts. It’s my “we walked uphill both ways to school” story. Chuckle.

I can’t help it. I see those chestnuts on the sidewalk just sitting there, left untouched, and I wonder “what is wrong with people”. Ok that’s not entirely true.  But I do look at them and remember back to when I was (cough) younger and you were lucky to get your hands on one.

You needed chestnuts for the chestnut fights at school!

You would find the secret spot with all the chestnuts and gather as many as you could.  Dad would drill a hole in them so you could tie a shoelace through it. Then you would battle your friends. Each hitting each other’s chestnut on a string. Whoever had theirs left in tact won.

Now that I say it out loud to my kids I realize why they ask questions like “did you live in the Little House on the Prairie days?”  or “Did they even have tv’s when you were a kid?”.

I see and understand why they might think things like that.  If you’re as ancient as I am you probably remember the chestnut fights too.

My kids will never know the excitement over collecting chestnuts for a chestnut fight at school. In some ways it seems ancient but the memories I have of those days will never go away.

From what I’ve learned Conkers is a traditional children’s game that started in Britain and Ireland. The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns striking each other’s conker until one breaks.

The first mention of the game is in Robert Southey’s memoirs published in 1821. He describes a similar game, but played with snail shells or hazelnuts. It was only from the 1850s that using horse chestnuts was regularly referred to in certain regions. The game grew in popularity in the 19th century, and spread beyond England.

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