THE BLOG

Games We Used To Play

02/15/2015 08:59 am ET | Updated Apr 17, 2015

Growing up in New Rochelle in the the 1930s, we played games that now are off the map. I wonder if any of my small but hearty band of readers are familiar with them. You'd have to be old and lived in the suburbs. These games took up much of our free time and I remember them with great fondness.

The chestnut game soaked up hours. We gathered fallen chestnuts and made a hole in the center with an ice-pick. We pushed string through the hole, knotting it at one end. We swung the chestnut to hit the opposing dangling chestnut until we missed. Then it was the other boy's turn. Cracks would appear and we would aim for them like a boxer going after his opponent's damaged eye. Victorious chestnuts were labelled two killers, three killers etc. but they were soon destroyed.

A ha, but then there were the 30 killers and up. These were chestnuts which, after being holed, were coated with vinegar and stored for a year. Now wizened and shriveled, totally lacking shine or charm, they were hard as a rock. No new shiny chestnut could stand up to them. Sometimes we named them. I had a 40 killer I named "Old Vinegar."

Territory was another game we played. We drew a sizable square in the dirt and drew a line cutting it in half - his country and mine. We snapped a scout knife into the square. If it stuck, we drew a line into the opposing country, adding some of his territory to mine. Back and forth the map shifted until someone conquered the world.

We also played with marbles. shooting a marble with your thumb at neutral marbles in an imposed circle in the dirt or on a rug. If you knocked out a marble from the circle, it was yours. And you kept going as long as your shooter marble stayed in the circle. Those who were able to claim most of the marbles grew up to run hedge funds.

These games don't smack of masculinity but I don't recall ever seeing a girl playing them. Girls played hop-scotch, jacks and jump rope.

Of course in those days we didn't have television, computers, smart phones, the xbox, the wii or gameboy.

Boy, were we lucky!

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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