Some courtyards had kings. There were stories of promise, of sacrifice, of failure – things to live up to – things to prove. The courtyard could be an intimidating place when you first arrived, but it didn’t take long for it to become a 3-ring playground. More often than not, several different games were played simultaneously in the courtyard. Groups of children would be in different areas.
Most games involved every aspect of the courtyard’s architecture. The walls, corners, fences were all part of the playing area. How convenient that they built these buildings so close to our playground, around our courtyard. Courtyards offer great protection from any obstruction, and play is seldom interrupted.
The one time that I sprained my elbow, I was rounding third base towards home during a punchball game in the Assumption School courtyard when my feet slipped on the gravel and down I went like a sack of potatoes. But boy did I wallop that ball! I never did find out if my team was awarded a run for that play. I didn’t actually cross home plate, but I would have without any doubt!
One courtyard in my neighborhood became an ice skating rink every winter. The neighbors would fill it with water on the night of a big freeze and the next day children were possessed by Dorothy Hammil and Bryan Trottier. Courtyards were cross functional, cross cultural, cross gender, and cross ability. Your first dodgeball game in a courtyard is a right of passage. I think it might have been part of the courtyard initiation as a matter of fact. Courtyard walls serve as an extra player. Ask any boy who throws his ball against the wall.
Were you intimidated by the courtyard?