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J is for Jumping Jacks

Here we go again, double letter score!

I saw Mitch do a few of these at his baseball game Monday night. Whether it was to stay warm or to exercise I’m not quite sure.

We used to do these in school gym classes. They take a little physical coordination, and for some people they take a little bit of time to master the rhythm. It’s also referred to as a star jump since that’s the shape your body makes when doing them.

Not only is it an exercise, but it’s also a toy that dates back thousands of years. It’s like a marionette and has movable limbs all connected to a string. When the string is pulled, all of the connected limbs will move. Found in many places in Europe, they are also called a Hempleman in Germany and a patins by the French nobility. This was where the name Jumping Jacks came from for the exercise.

Speaking of toys that have the word Jack in them, how about a Jack-in-the-box? The toy where you would turn the crank and a song would play. Then at some point in the song, ‘Jack’ would pop out of the top of the box. Kind of fun anticipating when it would happen, but it seemed to startle me each time it did it.


How about the clowns that would pop out of the vintage boxes? Some of them looked downright scary. Not only did they startle us but scared us at the same time.

There was also the game called Jacks. The player had a ball and a bunch of small pointy jacks. The object of that one was to drop the ball, pick up as many jacks as you can and catch the ball again before it hit the ground a second time. We would pick up the jacks with one hand and catch the ball in the other. Then we got fancy and caught the ball in the same hand the jacks were in.


It has been fun remembering the toys we played with as kids. It’s funny how the writing process works. We can start with one idea and wind up in a totally different one. Here I started with exercise and wound-up writing about toys. At least all of it is related to Jack. And we ‘jumped’ around to the different ideas. It’s fun going on these writing journeys, because you never know where you’ll wind up!

#JumpingJacks #Jacks #childhoodtoys #exercise #Jackinthebox

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