As we grew through our early elementary school years, our playmates tended to be those youngsters who lived within a few houses of our own. For the most part, they were within a few years of our age, but mostly younger than we were. Classes just behind ours had up to 50% more kids in them as a result of our parents enthusiastic responses to the end of WWII and their outlook as members of the conquering class was intensely optimistic. Economic realities would set in later, but for those early years of the 1950s, it seemed that such leveling thoughts were not in the cards.
By the time we had reached our 3rd or 4th grade years, we had begun to develop better motor and mental skills. With those developing skills, a lot of us were receptive to trying just about anything set before us. Pretty suddenly, the little kids next door were no longer satisfying our need for more challenge and stimulation. And as you may recall, in those days, a one-year difference in age was a huge gap.
School had begun to introduce us to sports. Various special interest groupings such as scouts sprung from our associations with others in our classes. We tended to gravitate to those we liked for a variety of reasons; ability, humor, and likeability, among them. Those kinds of relationships couldn't be forced, not even by a parent's insistence.
Girls' Sports. Unless I'm mistaken, girls had little available to them in the way of sports beyond jump rope and ring around the rosie. I think they did play softball and volleyball but only on all girls' teams. For the most part, we boys paid them no mind until sometime later during 6th grade.
Boys' Sports. Starting about 3rd grade, boys played all the sports we saw on TV and we paid strict attention to their seasons even though most any sport could be played at any time in the mild Texas climate. Little League baseball started for us as 10-year olds at the end of our 4th grade year. Few of us were any good at it at that point, but we put in a lot of time in sandlot games down at the school playground and in pretty short order some of us got pretty good. A few got real good.
Organized football started at my Richland Hills schools in 6th grade when we started playing competitive touch football games against other elementary school teams; but, on the East Side and other parts of Fort Worth, kids started contact football a year or two earlier. Those were the teams that Big Sam Scott put together along with help from Bill Hunsaker's dad and a few others. To my knowledge, Meadowbrook Elementary did not sponsor touch football teams like the ones I encountered in Richland Hills. In any event, those teams were a tremendous focal point for youngsters to start forming social attachments. The kids spent a lot of time together after school learning how to play the sports.
Girl and Boy Scouts. These "troops" tended to be formed within a single class, or perhaps others within the same grade. To my knowledge, they didn't include kids from older or younger classes. They formed about the same time as the first sports teams and provided a socializing activity for additional youngsters who may not have had an interest in or sufficient ability to play sports. It wasn't unusual for some of the boys to be very active in both, sports and scouts.
Early year scouting activities tended to be formed and supervised by mothers. When boys made the move to the older Boy Scout troops, those were supervised by fathers.
PTA. You can't overlook the influence on our childhood social interplay that our mothers introduced into the mix. Those mothers who were free to be stay-at-home moms and were so inclined, would often involve themselves as Room Mothers and assistants. Some of them served in those capacities all the way through our schooling. No doubt their social interplay with one another produced a number of effects that almost certainly impacted our school lives as their children.
By the time we went into the 6th grade, we knew pretty well who we liked and who we didn't, but we may not have always known why.