I grew up in Queens Village. We played “pinkball” variety of handball at Alley Pond Park just inside the Union Tpke entrance (you went under the old Vanderbilt MotorPkway bridge). This was in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Our courts were “one wall.” There was some alternation between Spauldeens and Pennsy Pinkies, but we finally pretty much settled on the Pennsies. It seemed the Spauldeens were being made smaller and the rubber thicker. They didn’t move as well. Now the Pennsies had a bit too much bounce to them, so we’d “pin” them. I carried a safety pin attached to my belt loop. When we got a new ball we’d simply push the pin through the skin and it then would bounce just right. We usually got our balls from Michael’s Candy Store on Hillside Avenue where Bell Park Manor and Terrace Apartments were (and are). The owners of Michael’s back in the day had a sign on the box holding the balls: “If you bounce it you bought it.” Oh, and yes sir, those were the days!
I’m Tony from Astoria Queens. We used to play with Spalding Balls and played stick Ball, Strike Box (AKA Alley ball), Stoop Ball, Box Ball, Handball, and all the others mentioned. One thing I haven’t heard about the spalding’s were the types or classes of each. I can remember there being four to choose from numbered 1-4. They went from #4 being softer (less air) to #1 being the hardest (most air). When you bounced the #1 you could hear the p’ing’ or ‘ting’ sound it made from it being so tight. In stickball, I could hit that ball for two blocks in the air and it would bounce for about five more blocks! Telling my kids this seems unbelievable to them; and if you really think about it, you start to second- quess yourself about being able to hit it that far–but you know you could. I think we (ALL) were the true superheroes of NYC and the Tri-State area. Never forget where you came from is my moto!!!
When i played in the late fifty we all tried so hard to get a flat top .Back then you had to use a bottle operner to get you cap. We also filled them with lead or wax so know one can hit us out of our box.I played in Queens at PS115 and JH172 it was a great game.
I grew up in Astoria, Queens 60’s – 70’s went through countless number of spaldeens (most lost on roof of P.S. 85). Played Ace King Queen, Punchball, Stickball and Russia (Russian). Have 3 spaldeen balls a 60’s, 70’s and one of the new ones probably 90’s. Moved to Malvern, PA in ’74 and nobody knew what a spaldeen was.
I just painted 3 skelly courts in my day schools yard. I am going to teach 100 6th grade boys how to play skelly. I have over 100 bottle and Snapple caps, crayons and magnifying glasses. I am a science teacher at the school and I will be relating the game to Newton’s Laws of Motion. I will teach them the art of weighting the pieces and hiding the washers under the melted crayon. I learned the game in the Pomonok housing projects of Queens, NYC in the 1950’s. This game never goes away and it is addicitng!
Its funny how it was then. we couldnt wait to grow up and get a car and our own place,and not have all our parents rules and school would be gone. I’ve dreamed of those wonderful days in Queens 1950’s and 1960’s. We tend to remember all good times when thinking of those days. I did some deep thinking about it,and remember alot of boring days too. I think the lack of responsibilities of childhood is the key to it all. I dont think the 1960’s way is gone,the inner city and poor sections still have that look and feel of outdoor streetplay. Im sure someone is still playing ace,king queen or Skullie somewhere. Saloogie!
Thats chinese handball! or ace, king, queen. I dont remember it being called slug. Names of games changed in all areas of ny in the 1960’s.In QUEENS it was,hey you wanna play ‘chinese’. We played in the school park against the brick wall of a park bathroom building.We used a spaldeen.It was a very fast game,played low to the ground,and wore out alot of Keds sneakers. You had to find a good place with a wall or fence in back of you,so you didnt have to chase the ball.
As measured via Google Earth, on our Queens street the sewer manhole covers were 150 to 160 feet apart. Only the stronger, older teens could hit a spaldeen two sewers (300 to 320 feet), and even then it was not common. I believe that in older sections of the city the manhole covers were often closer, perhaps 100 feet apart.
In the addition to the many ball games mentioned here, we played a few we thought to be our own invention in 60s/70s Queens. I wonder if others had similar games. One was porch ball in which players got points for tossing the ball onto the porch, running to various locations and catching the ball before it could roll off the porch and bounce. Our houses had front porches over driveways that led to garages underneath. The front edge of the porch was guarded by a wrought iron metal railing that had room for the spaldeen to roll freely under. The porch ball player stood on the driveway below the porch, tossed the spaldeen up over the railing, causing the ball the land on the porch. While the ball was bouncing on and rolling around the porch, the player ran up the driveway toward the sidewalk and street. His goal was to reach location(s) of his choice, and run back in time to catch the ball before it fell off the porch and bounced on the driveway below. Points were based on distance, something like 1 pt for reaching the sidewalk, 2 for touching the street tree, 5 for the tree across the street, 10 pts for the Stop sign on the corner, you get the idea. Sometimes you’d run to, for example, the tree, then come back below the porch and realize you had more time, so you’d gamble and run to another spot so as to add more points. Porchball combined 1) dexterity for carefully tossing the ball into the porch so that it bounced at odd angles and stayed up for a long time, 2) running speed to reach more distant locations, and 3) agility to turn around quickly and head back. Players took turns. The first person to the agreed goal number of points won. Another game was a volleyball-like and had a name that changed according to the highest score any group had reached. A group of players formed a circle the street; any number could play. To begin, someone tossed the spaldeen in the air, and after it came down and bounced, anyone could hit it with their hand back into the air. That was #1, as the group would call out aloud. This was repeated to get #2, then #3, etc. This bounce-hit cycle continued unbroken until no one was able to hit the ball back into the air before it bounced more than once. Inevitably after awhile someone would hit the ball high/far so as to create challenging/exciting chases. I seem to recall the highest score we ever got was 702.
In the 60s/70s in Queens we played the game Al LaPlaca described, and called it garage ball because 1) we happened to play it against a wall adjacent to a garage, and 2) had never heard another particular name for it. I remember the spaldeens-in-the-bike-spokes as 1952 Kid mentioned. It was an easy way to transport the ball.