I did some research on Skelly (et al) a couple of years ago. No-one really knows all the answers, as is the case with many street/folk games. Skelly was most likely invented (more correctly *evolved*) along with the invention of crimped bottlecaps in the late 19th century. Other “flicking” (the technical term is “fillip” – look it up 😉 games were rabidly popular at that same time – Crokinole (http://www.frontiernet.net/~crokinol) & Caroms (http://www.carrom.org), specifically. Skelly has many similarities to both, and it’s possible that it may be a hybrid of the two, but played with impromptu equipment. Contrary to some belief, it’s not strictly a NYC game, though it may have migrated to or from there from elsewhere. The oldest Skelly player I heard from was from Rochester, and was a veteran of WWI. I also heard from players from other eastern cities, but none west of Chicago, or south of D.C. Personally, I’m against codification of street/folk games. I think they should be preserved in *all* their variations for posterity to maintain their culture and “color”. A lot of the fun, skill, & challenge of these games is being able to adapt to someone else’s rules, court, allowable equipment, etc. Besides, are you going to be the one to walk into some other kids’ neighborhood and tell them they’re doing it all wrong? 😉 *I’m* not!
It’s amazing to find that stoopball as played on Long Island, NY in the early 60’s was the same game being played in Chicago etc. The only difference was we had fielders, so you could try and catch the ball on a fly and get the “batter” out. Since we were little kids, it didn’t happen too often!
I played “buck buck” in Chicago in the early 50’s when I was about 9 years old. Thanks for bringing back some fond childhood memories.