The Primary theme for April, 1923, was “Amusements,” with the goal of teaching children that “Wholesome Recreation Gives Strength to the Body and Joy to the Soul.”
It may be difficult today to see how such a theme fits into the Church History course the Primary was following that year, but that’s because we’ve left behind so much of the communal nature of our history. In 1923, as well as in 1883 or 1853, almost everything we did — including our amusements — was anchored in the community rather than in the private sphere. Thus, “amusements” fits well within the secondary theme for the Primary’s first quarter of 1923, “The Latter-day Saints, a United People.”
You’ll notice that all of these coloring pages from the Children’s Friend for April 1923 involve groups of Latter-day Saints finding their fun in groups. Nothing in the pictures or verses draws attention to the fact that these amusements are communal rather than solitary — community was such a bedrock trait that I wonder if 1923 readers were even conscious of its pervasiveness.
We help our mother in the house,
But when the work is done,
We gather up our dolls and toys,
And play out in the sun.
For mother says it’s playing in
The air and sunshine bright
That makes the boys and girls grow strong
And happy — and she’s right.
We all are glad when springtime comes
For then it is we play
At jump-the-rope and hop scotch, too,
And almost every day
The boys play ball, or have a game
With tops or marbles new.
Oh, spring’s the time to have the sport.
We love it — wouldn’t you?
We children love the summer time,
For then it is, you know,
That work of school is laid aside
And we a-camping go.
We spread our lunch upon the ground,
And sing a merry rhyme,
Around the campfire when it’s dark
In happy summer time.
If you would have a body strong,
A happy heart and gay,
Just put aside your little cares
And go outdoors to play.
You’ll find the sleighing just as good
As in the days of old.
So bundle up real nice and warm,
And do not mind the cold.
“When I was young,” my mother said,
“The nicest time to me
Was when we met at neighbor Jones’
To have a ‘paring bee.’
“While girls prepared the fresh, ripe fruit,
The men and boys would try
Their skill at playing quoits or catching
Ball upon the fly.
“Our mothers then prepared the lunch,
And at the close of day,
We ate and laughed and danced and sang,
The gayest of the gay.”
They danced the minuet with grace,
Those dainty maids of old,
And quite enjoyed the happy times
Of dancing, we are told.
Virginia reel, varsovienne,
A waltz quadrille or two.
I think they would be jolly fun
If danced today, don’t you?