We Need Recess... and Ditto Sheets!

I was visiting with the ever-awesome Zoe of rewritten last night, pondering my "recess post", and she initiated a trip down memory lane, citing "the kindergarten smells of milk and crayons and the black top playground." 
I loved elementary school - not the social experience so much, I was fairly inept at that, usually having one or two friends and never part of the "in-group" - but the learning experience... my mind was a sponge soaking it up! 
 I have to admit that I was one of the well-behaved kids, it never occurred to me to be otherwise.  Thus I often was assigned recess duties like ringing the bell, getting everyone lined up to go in, and handing out the milk we had twice a day following recess.  Chocolate milk was available for a couple cents more, and it was cold and wonderful! 
Back then, just as now, if you asked most children what school activity they liked best, they would reply "RECESS"!  Spring, Fall, and even in the bitter cold of winter, we lived for those breaks from sitting at our desks (no roaming or floor sitting allowed back in those days).  We played dodge ball and marbles, jumped with our jump ropes or swirled hula-hoops, drew pictures in the dirt with sticks, attempted to walk tight-rope style on the heavy link chain surrounding the playground, and played on the playground equipment, sometimes roughly, and yet no one died.  Certainly there was some cuts and bruised knees, getting sick from too many spins on the merry-go-round,  and the occasional broken bone as someone hurled themselves from the top of the monkey bars, but no one ever sued the school for negligence.  Parents back then knew we were kids being kids. There was no bullying or fistfights - that would have meant a trip to the Principal's office and facing the wrath of our parents when we got home! 
I am thinking that we need recess in our lives again now... as adults... in the workplace.  Not just "breaks" where we go and stand in groups or sit somewhere with a cigarette or soda, rehashing the hot topics of the day, but all out, let's have fun and play, activity.  Think of how much happier everyone would be!  How long has it been since you flew high on the swings or spun around on a merry-go-round, or tried your skill at swinging across the row of monkey bars?
I once worked next door to a large firm that paid their employees to take a walk around the block everyday, and we would watch them in their dresses, suits and sneakers, walking in ones or twos, enjoying the fresh-air and the bit of exercise.  What a wise boss that was, I bet productivity grew considerably as a result, not to mention the health benefits!
Back in the "olden days",  teachers would allow good students to help out with classroom tasks during recess time... erasing the chalkboards, running erasers through the cleaners, passing out papers, setting up art supplies, etc.  My very favorite task was making worksheet copies on the "Ditto Machine" (mimeograph) - the predecessor to modern photocopiers.  It involved a steel drum on which a master sheet was placed that was then coated with a special purple "ditto ink" as it revolved.  Copies were made by running paper thru the machine and pressing them against the master.  Not only was this fun, turning out a toasty warm stack of papers, but the ink smelled WONDERFUL!  Zoe remembered it, so did Papa Bear.  I'll bet some of you do too!  We would take those worksheets the teacher passed out, often still warm from printing, and hold them up to our faces, intoxicated by that awesome smell... a generation of "pre-stoners" in the making! :-)  If I close my eyes, I can still remember how wonderful that ink smelled!
Maybe we also need to get rid of our modern, high-tech copiers and replace them with "ditto machines."  I'm thinking we could soothe the savage staff as they huffed papers fresh from printing! :-) 
I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures
where the word we are Pondering this week is "recess" 
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  1. My train of thought clearly derailed as I went from recess to ditto ink, but it was a sweet walk down memory lane anyway! :-)

  2. I am in complete agreement with you! I worked at a company where they actually built a walking path around their parking lot and through a small grassed area to give employees incentive to walk. A good clean recess from work puts new perspectives on the tasks to be done.
    Thanks for pondering with me

  3. The nicest soccer field in Indianapolis has no spectator stands. It's not for pro, college, or even high school teams. It is smack in the middle of a gigantic pharmaceutical company downtown. It is for employees to use. The company expects their people to work hard, but they want them to play, too. It's awesome.
    I loved the smell of ditto copies! Photocopies just aren't the same. What will our kids remember from school? Nothing as good as what we do! :)

  4. I remember ditto sheets, too, the smell and everything. The more we know about the brain, the more we know how absolutely essential gross motor movement is for learning. It is absolutely fascinating to me. My daughter, who has developmental delays, did not talk until she started sensory integration therapy, which involved swinging, jumping, and falling. It was extraordinary to watch that link in action. I agree that adults need the exercise just as much for mood, for learning, for everything!

  5. I love your walk through the recesses of your mind!

  6. Lin, I had a different take on recess this time, but I really enjoyed your reminder of those old days and recess at school. I remember jumping rope on the blacktop, playing various ball games, and just generally running and jumping. It was a great time.

  7. I remember the elementary school gym, where we jumped ropes and ran around during the recess, and the old printing machines. Nowadays, they can print so many worksheets and handouts so easily and quickly that they seem to be making needless ones as well.

  8. I like the concept of "recess" for adults.

    My memory of recess is vague, but do recall those days

  9. I am all for adult recess! Hip hip hooray!
    And I was very glad today to have several of my own, as it was one of those days indeed!
    I don't remember those ditto machines -- but I do remember the first time printing from a computer and how that smelled. I don't think it was as nice as your experience.

  10. Nothing says school quite like the smell of ditto sheets..

  11. Of course, I remember those purple inky ditto masters. All waxy inside. Somehow I always made a mess of myself when I made them. The sad thing about recess in our local schools is that there is no scheduled time for it. Teachers are responsible to initiate appropriate recesses for the children in their classes. Guess what happens? Not much fresh air all day long - very sad. I love the idea of adult recess at the office or at home.


Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)