Where and when I grew up (Casper, Wy — mid to late ’40s were my main jack-playing years) Jacks were a very big thing for girls — there were even tournaments. Not sure who sponsored the tournaments — I was never good enough to qualify, but my big sister was. The official game was played with only six jacks, and we “flipped” to see who went first. Beginners could “flip” with two hands, but once you were experienced, you were expected to use only one. The “official” game included babies, baskets. upcast, downcast, halves, wholes, up-picking-daisies and down-picking-daisies (if I’m remembering correctly). I’m not sure I can explain any of these in text — they almost have to be demonstrated. Sometimes we played other additional sets, but the only one I can remember is “around the world.” Even my brother played jacks, but we all agreed that was a secret we’d never tell his friends. My kids grew up in Southern California, and Jacks wasn’t played there, though I taught them the game I grew up with, and they loved it — my son included. There was no stigma for him, since it wasn’t known as a “girl” game in CA — and I know it helped improve his eye-hand coordination.
Original author: Cassie M Rice (gramcassie) [e-mail]