Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some More Summer Games

The Blog of Maria Schulz, http://talesfromahungrylife@wordpress.com just posted "Summer Games"brought to mind games young boys played when I was a kid. Give a guy a ball and there was a hundred different things he could do with it. A rubber ball and a stoop gave birth to three or four different stoop ball or wall ball games. Add the sawed off stick from Mom's broom and you had fast pitch, stick ball and without the stick there was punch ball or slap ball. The ball, stick or bat if you will add gloves and some catcher's equipment and you had a softball game or baseball game. We didn't use helmets or anything like that our heads were hard enough to withstand any smack a ball might give. When there was enough guys around for a full team even the method of choosing a team was a game. If we had 18 or 20 guys we could play a neighborhood make-up game of softball at the school yard. The guys that owned the bats, ball and gloves had the say as to the method of choosing. I guess two guys that did the choosing could be called the managers but after the team was chosen and the line-ups made there was little managing to be done. A bat would be turned upside down and tossed to the other chooser who was to catch it with one hand, furthest away from the handle as possible. Then the other chooser would place his hand on the handle directly above the opposing guy and they would do this until they reached the knob and if possible grab the knob only by the fingertips. If one guy was able to cover the knob with a full grip this was good for him but the fingertip hold was precarious. The next move was the guy with the knob grip, fingertip or hand, would have to turn the bat around his body over his head three times and then hold it at arms length while the other guy would try and kick the bat out of his grip. After three kicks and the guy still had the bat in his grip that guy had first pick however if the bat was kicked out of the grippers hand the kicker had first pick. First pick was important because it set up the whole pick-up team but sometimes the later picks did OK too. When there was more than 20 guys present there was always the humiliation of not being picked at all but those guys hung around to cheer and boo and maybe get into a game if someone got hurt or had to go home because his mother was calling him. Sometimes other methods of choosing were employed like the finger method where two guys would play two of three by yelling 1,2,3 then sticking out one or two fingers. One guy was odd the other even. There was also a one potato two potato method but considered somewhat girly by some. This was usually used to see who would be "it" in the game of tag or who would "seek" in the game of Hide and Seek. Standing in a circle one guy or girl would start by raising one clenched fist to their mouth saying one potato then hitting their left hand with two potato going to the next person around the horn up to seven potato with the eighth one being "MORE" and that hand would be put behind the person's back. This would be repeated until all were eliminated except one and that the "it" or "seeker". I hope I haven't lost you. This is some of the ways these games would choose up sides but there were other games that were played that were a lot of fun that really had no sides and no winners or losers in some participant's eyes. These could be considered party games but could be played out doors under a shady tree or in an abandon foundation of a house started but never completed.

Spin The Bottle and Post Office are two games that come to mind but they were co-ed games. Sitting in a circle one boy, one girl etc. in the middle one would take an empty soda bottle lay it on its side and spin it and if it pointed to one of the opposite sex the spinner would get up and give a kiss, if it hit the same sex you lost a turn. Back in the day we didn't acknowledge anything like same sex stuff. This was a fun game.

Another fun game was Post Office. I really don't remember all of the rules but it was co-ed. I seem to remember something like a girl going into a room and a guy requesting 2 or 3 stamps and if permission was granted he went into the room and collected his stamps coming out of the room smacking his lips.

But I digress. I started out talking about games with sticks, bats, balls, gloves and some cather's equipment.

Today you have Little League, which I hate since it wiped out all the initiative kids had to get a team including managers together. It is Baseball kids play for the gratification of their parents. It is organized in the image of the major leagues with many written rules governing team choices to games played. The fathers unfulfilled dreams are being completed as they run the whole show and the mothers are all agog over little Jr. performing so well as if it reflected on her being a good mother. Some of the kids are under tremendous pressure exerted by parents that they hardly ever enjoy the pure joy of just being a kid playing ball. Bushwicks and The House Of David, a Jewish team were two teams among many that played great semi-pro ball. Today Little League and the softball leagues are around but for the most part they really don't approximate baseball.
When we were kids there were two levels we played at the neighborhood make-up games and the organized games under the auspices of the leagues mentioned above. We got our friends together and usually enlisted an older guy, maybe in his late 20's or even older to manage us. Sometimes teams had a history and held tryouts. For the most part the kids had a great input in putting the teams together.  The home teams had the necessary papers from the Parks department  to have a field. The travelling teams didn't have a field and went from one place to the other in a schedule set up by the leagues. Now the kids have very little to do in putting the teams together, getting a permit or making the rules. The grown-ups do it all and the kids get to play. Somehow this type of thing translates into their later lives so that the growing into an adult takes much longer. Sometimes they are in their 30's and the parents are still doing everything for them. But this is a subject for another day.

As we grew older and the summer nights got hotter the guys and gals would hang together on the front porch. In the evening we'd play a game called perdidle or perdoodle. If a car came by with one headlight one would call out perdidle or perdoodle. If the girl called it first she could punch the guy hard in the arm, if the guy called it first he got a kiss.
Talking about summer doings can't go without mentioning the ice cream trucks. Bungalow Bar rang their bell in a white truck that looked like a bungalow. A pop might give you a lucky stick which meant a FREE ice cream pop the next time he came. Good Humor came in a white truck with a big pop painted on the side. They didn't have a lucky stick but they had more of a variety. They were more expensive, maybe 10 cents while bungalow bar was maybe a nickel. On a real hot night mom would give us money to buy a quart of ice cream and cream soda, maybe a cost of 25 cents or so, to make ice cream sodas. I liked vanilla ice cream but chocolate was the favorite of many so since it was hand packed we got a little of both. It was really good, and cold and we could play perdoodle afterwards.

The summer nights were nice because the suns hot rays were gone and even if it was still hot it had the feel of cooling. The only air condition we had was a fan, maybe, and the cool night air. Sometimes it was difficult to sleep and took maybe 15 minutes but we were so tired from all the day's activities that we were soon in the land of nod dreaming of tomorrow's summer games.

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