There was a time when I would ride a tiger down a flight of stairs.
A stuffed tiger, that is.
It all began with one of my few almost selfless acts. A local restaurant (remember Sambo’s?) was having an open house or some event, and it was only a few blocks from our house.
A neighborhood friend and I walked over to see what the balloons and signs were about, and entered a drawing for prizes. I entered my name and then on impulse entered my siblings’ names as well.
Some undefined time later, two strangers showed up at our house, unannounced (could be due to our lack of telephone), and held out a small tiger for my sister. She was surprised, as were we all!
Then, these men produced a large tiger and my brother was announced as the recipient.
This tiger was huge!
It was about as tall as I was, and I was eleven years old at the time.
What a fine surprise!
We finally deduced that the tigers were from Sambo’s, from those names I had placed in the drawing.
Fast forward a few years, and move the story to a new home, equipped with telephones, and a fine full basement.
Add four kids during the heat of summer, confined to the house while our parents worked, just aching for free entertainment options.
I cannot recall how it started, it may have morphed from the stair jumping contests (where you try to best the last jumper by climbing to the highest stair tread and diving down to the stack of pillows on the concrete floor while dodging the door frame at the base of the stairs).
It may have been the activity that started the stair jumping contests. Oh the memories!
Whatever the source, imaginations gave rise to the “Tiger Rides”.
All four of us kids could sit on that large tiger at the same time.
We would place it at the top of the stairs, jump on board, and ride that silly thing all the way to the bottom. Laughter and silly screams and fallen bodies were all part of the fun.
Hit the bottom, grab the tiger and run back up those stairs! We had a blast in our tiger riding days.
The tiger was tough, but there was only so much that one stuffed tiger can take. Eventually, the poor thing became a rather wilted mass of beanbag fodder, no longer sitting upright on the floor.
Tiger riding reminds me of another activity we invented: “shoot to the moon”.
As the oldest, I had the best launching legs of the group. We would pad a chair with all the pillows we could muster (the chair was handmade, one of those rough wood chairs that you make your own cushions for, so was quite dangerous to land on without protection).
Once the chair was ready, I would lay on my back in line with the chair, probably a five to six foot distance. Each of my siblings would take turns, as I lifted my knees to my chest, sitting on my foot soles to balance just so. Once I had their full weight on my feet, I would springboard them up into the air and out toward that pillowed chair! Shoot to the moon!
It was not without damage. We often had to stop to treat injuries, or placate sobs from banged shins. The fun outweighed the risk, and we would resume soon after, or delay the game for another day.
Siblings! Riding a tiger and shoot to the moon. Survivors, we!
Oh, the memories!