Never take free time for granted. In the 1910s, when child labor was common, free time was a luxury many kids couldn’t afford. Yet, then as now, some much-needed recreation might be had on the occasional snow day. To lucky youngsters, several entertainment options were available, including these popular pastimes.
1. Breaking Out the Flexible Flyers
During the 1910s, these sleds became a bona-fide national craze: 2000 were sold daily in December 1915 alone. Named after some well-placed hinges which enabled easier steering, wooden Flexible Flyers remained iconic for decades and are still produced today, despite steep competition from plastic rivals.
2. Boiling Some Old-Fashioned Hot Cocoa
Before the age of microwaves and Swiss Miss powders, making warm chocolatey beverages was a lot more time-consuming. Standard recipes often involved boiling cocoa shells or cracked cocoa beans: a process which usually took over an hour.
3. Playing Ice Barrel Ball
Imagine if hockey and basketball had an eccentric, nonviolent lovechild. Matches took place on outdoor ice rinks with five players on each team. Both sides had a barrel into which their opponents would try to throw the ball while skating. Naturally, these slippery conditions would have made dribbling impossible, so carrying was permitted. Should an adversary tag the ball-carrier, the rules dictated that he throw it immediately. Tackling, shoving, and other forms of fighting would be strictly penalized.
4. Playing Rook
During the early 1900s, certain religious groups were not OK with card games. In order to win over those who found them immoral, Parker Brothers introduced “Rook” decks in 1906, which lacked “face” cards (kings, queens, etc.) and, hence, did not immediately lend themselves to gambling. Their new game soon caught on and became a wholesome family staple, with advertisers billing it as “The Delight of Winter Evenings."
This strategic chase involved a tracking party and their lion impersonator, who’d flee into some nearby trees, leaving trails of corn en route. As with “Siberian Manhunt,” both the hunters and the hunted then threw snowballs in an effort to eliminate each other. There was also a warm-weather version, played with tennis balls.
6. Heading Indoors for Some “Double-Domino”
Wooden boards, some drilling equipment, and a rubber ball were all this leisurely sport required. Simply carve a few “domino-style” holes into your planks, prop them up, stand back, try bouncing your ball off the floor and through one of those freshly-cut openings, and voila! Instant amusement.