So, I read the July 1 article…
So, I read the July 1 article in The NY Times on the joys of streetgames, and was immediately transported back to the Bronx, circa 1958. We used to play a spaldeen game called “Captain.” The essentials included a high, smooth wall (we had one located next to the entrance of the now defunct Salvation Army Training School), cement “boxes,” and of course, the ubiquitious spaldeen (purchased from Moishe’s Candy Store, natch!). One kid would be the “captain” and stand in the first box, one box away from the wall. The rest of us (no specified number…as many kids could play as there were boxes) would form a line alongside the captain, one player per box. A reverse form of “handball” would ensue, with the ball bouncing in the box and THEN hitting the wall. The ball would then bounce into any other box, and the kid owning that space would slap the ball onto the pavement, having it hit the wall, and fall into another player’s box. If the player missed the ball, or hit it out of bounds, he/she would have to go to the end of the line, the rest of the players then moving up one box, closer to the “captain.”
The goal, of course, was to get the “captain” OUT, so that you could attain that golden position.
Gentler than handball, “Captain” nonetheless promoted similar skills in strategizing, strength (slapping the ball with greater or lesser energy) and dealing with serendipity (not seeing a pebble on the ground could cause your well placed shot to go seriously awry). Most of all, it was great fun. And for the few moments that you were “Captain” a kid from the Bronx learned the basics of power…gained with some skill and effort, and lost because of a lousy pebble.