If you can recite the poem that follows the title, you will also remember the jumps that went with each verse from “climb the stair,” to “say your prayers.” If you have no idea what I am talking about, this was the most common jump rope rhyme with its requisite hand and feet gestures made while one jumped.
I love the photo above because it accurately captures the way we waited in line to be the next jumper. We would have been wearing dresses, saddle shoes and white anklets too. Group rope jumping was a favorite morning recess activity. Afternoon recess usually had us playing other games. Two girls would swing the rope and another would run in from the side, perfectly timing her entrance to the arc of the rope. Then the chanting would begin as the girl tried to do all the moves and not trip. If a girl tripped, she became one of the rope swingers and the game went on.
A challenging variation of jump rope involved two ropes swinging in opposite directions. This was especially hard to time. First one girl went in and having established a pace was joined by a second jumper. I learned that it was important to simply run in and not think about the challenge ahead.
Jump roping was done on asphalt, so falls hurt and were another reason to get skinned knees. Fortunately, the school nurse always had plenty of Mercurochrome and Bandaids. Now not only were our knees banged up, they were also orange!