Monday, March 17, 2014

Hopscotch, Jacks, and Marbles -- Flashback!

by Kate Collins

I happened to spot an article on Yahoo the other day about the origins of childhood games. Ever curious, I checked out the article and learned the history (or theory) of 15 common games played by kids all over the world. Most I knew, but a few, like Mumblypegs, Capture the Flag, and Four Square, were new to me.

My favorites on the list were hopscotch, jacks, and marbles, in that order. Half the fun of hopscotch for me was drawing the hopscotch board on the sidewalk. Who needed chalk? A big soft stone worked in a pinch. I usually started out with two large boxes at the top, and by the time I'd worked my way down to the last three in a line at the bottom, the boxes had not only shrunk, but also had gone off kilter. But who cared? Then the hunt was on to find the best throwing stone. Had to be flat for the best aim.

And then there was Jacks. I can't begin to imagine how many hours I spent tossing and grabbing and chasing the little bouncing ball. I introduced them to my own kids, and they were like "Eh." Their loss.

What wasn't on the list was dodge ball. Every kid in our neighborhood would turn out for a game on a summer's eve, using a driveway or, on a quiet night, the street. We'd play for hours, until it was dark and we couldn't see the ball.

 Tree climbing was another of my favorite sports. I spent hours up in our crabapple tree pretending I was Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden spying on evildoers. Imagine that.

I hope today's children are learning these wonderful games.but I fear they'll be lost amid the computer/iPad activities. If you're interested in the article I mentioned, here's the link.

What were your favorite childhood games?

26 comments:

Lynda Turpin said...

I played many of the games in the article. Like you, I played hopscotch and jacks a lot, and marbles if my brother would let me use his. But my favorite activity was roller skating. In those days, we didn't have skating rinks - we skated on the sidewalks (and I still have scars on my knees and elbows). My skates were the metal ones that clamped on your shoes, and you tightened them with a skate key. I wore my skate key around my neck at all times - like a necklace. A number of years ago, I told my nephew's wife about my love for my skates and how I was never without my skate key. One day she was in an antique store and they had an old skate key. She bought it and gave it to me for Christmas, and it was one of the best gifts I've ever received. Right now, it's being used as a light pull on the ceiling lamp in my family room. Every time I see it I think of those days so long ago.

Mark Baker said...

I never played Jacks or Marbles, but I did enjoy Hopscotch, Jump Rope, and Chinese Jump Rope. Never did like tag because I was (and am) a slow runner, so I always seemed to be It.

mary kennedy said...

A wonderful post, made me feel nostalgic! I feel the same way, I wonder if all these games will disappear in the digital age...

Kate Collins said...

Lynda, that is so cool! I totally forgot about skating. I have those scars on my knees, too. Clamps never held. But I skated for hours. Think of the exercise we got. More kids need that today, don't they?

Kate Collins said...

Ah! They left out tag. What kid didn't play that (and hate it, I suspect.)

Kate Collins said...

Boy, I hope not. Looking back, we sure did get a lot of exercise. Not like today at all. Parents, take heed! Teach your kids these games.

Vicki said...

All my nieces and nephews play Four Square (11 of them). We never played it growing up and I'm not sure which of them brought it back with them from where ever but now they play it for hours. The beauty of that game is even the 5 year old can play with his 20 year old cousins and his 73 year old grandfather.

As for me, walking, marbles, riding my bike, jacks. When I was very small and lived in Miami, we had a pavilion kind of thing in the back yard with a concrete floor. My parents painted a hopscotch on the floor since there weren't any sidewalks around.

Leann Sweeney said...

Played them all and more. We loved Kick the Can and Red Rover. We also played A LOT of card games because in bad weather that's about all there was to do. (When we finally got a CLUE board game, we were in heaven!) But really, Kick the Can was our favorite--hide and seek with a can twist--and it had to be a big old can!

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I loved jacks. Being an only child, I could play that alone if a friend wasn't around. Then came hopscotch and lastly marbles. My son love to play spy and spy on the neighbors. At one time, he and a neighbor girl were going to write a street newspaper. They soon found out that the neighbors were boring and there was nothing to write. Kids now stay in the house on their electronics. Text to one another and never will learn the are of conversation.. A lot of people might wish I had never learned it, I love to talk. LOL

Dru said...

I also had those skates with the skate key. I also remember all the street games, "Red Light, Green Light" / stick ball / stoop ball / skelly / Footsie / Double Dutch.

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

I forgot about skating. I loved it too and remember that key.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Lovely post, Kate! For me Hopscotch was the first sign of spring. Outside without boots, chalking on dry sidewalks after six months of winter weather. Thanks for taking me back to that happy time.

Hugs,

MJ

Grandma Cootie said...

Great post! Brings back a lot of good memories, and a quick look at the scar on my knee from skating right off the sidewalk into the gravel.

I must have talked about jacks a lot because my granddaughter put a little bag of jacks in my Christmas stocking. My favorite gift.

Heather said...

We played all the games in the article except mumblypeg and shuffleboard. We learned four square in elementary school. Variations of tag were popular in the apartment complex where we lived -- including Freeze Tag, What Time is it Mr. Fox?, and Ghost in the Graveyard. We also played kick the can for hours after dark, and Red Light, Green Light was also popular.

Laurie Fancy said...

We used to have soooooo much fun playing outside; whether at school or at home! I loved to skip, play hopscotch, freeze tag, Red Rover and bike ride. Could skip and ride my bike for hours on end! If the sun shone, we were outside playing.......no matter what. There was always a friend to play with. I really feel sorry for kids today. They may be missing out on some great activities.

Rachelle21 said...

I had roller skates and skated on the street. Did not skate on rollers in a rink until an adult. I ice skated at playgrounds. Since, I am also an only, I would play with jacks or hopscotch by myself. At school or camp - it would be dodge ball and softball.

Kate Collins said...

My childhood self envies you your painted hopscotch, Vicki. LOL

Kate Collins said...

I can't believe Red Light/GreenLight wasn't on the list! Totally forgot about it, but that was one of my faves, too.

Kate Collins said...

How sweet is that? Give her a hug from me.

Kate Collins said...

Wow. Another one I forgot: What Time is It, Mr. Fox? Loved it! Thanks for mentioning it.

Kate Collins said...

Oh, boy, are they ever. Like you, I was outside for hours. There was so much more to do? And with only a little window a/c unit in the entire house, outside was always better.

Kate Collins said...

Ice skating! Glad you mentioned that one. It was my winter favorite activity. I remember Christmas vacations where we skated, which meant it was pretty cold to make the park's rink freeze.

Kate Collins said...

And with all the other games that were brought up with this, it's a great big flashback to happy days.

Kate Collins said...

I was an only until I was 6, so i played jacks by myself, too, Diane. It's a good activity for a single child.

Kate Collins said...

Rummy! My best friend and I would play for hours when it rained outside. Thanks for reminding me, Leann.

Aurian said...

Lovely post, thank you. I have no idea how to translate the names of games, but yes, I was very good at playing with marbles, and with a jumping rope, and the hoolahoop. We also used to play with a ball, and throw it at the end of the stoop where your friend stood. If you caught the ball when it bounced off, you could throw from there, and so get closer and closer. Each caught ball when it bounced was a point. Climbing trees, of course, and hide and seek on the school grounds.
I do have a 15 year old stepdaughter (I got her when she was 12) and she never ever sets a foot outdoors. If it has a screen, she is fine. She is her only every other weekend or else I would go nuts from that kind of behaviour.