I grew up in downtown Jersey City in the late 50’s around Montgomery and Varick Streets, a block away from Van Vorst Park. This was my favorite game growing up! We called the game “street checkers.” We either used checkers from a checker set, or screw top bottle caps filled with tar that had softened up in the hot summer sun. We didn’t flick the top with a finger, but squeezed it out between the thumb and index finger like a marble. We had a 15 number board, with odd numbers from 1-9 up one side, even numbers from 2-10 down the other, 11 and 13 on top opposite 12-14 at bottom. 15 was a small box in a larger box with four lines connecting the corners of the small box with the corners of the large box. The spaces within were poison but the lines were safe. If you landed in a poison area, you lost a turn. While playing, if you hit an opponent’s cap, you advanced a number. You had to go from 1 to 15, then back down to 1. After that you shot into one of the poison spaces, became “poison,” and could kill off any remaining players. I still have one of my tar filled caps on a little knick knack shelf in my apartment.
Original author: Al Politowski [e-mail]