I grew up in Woodhaven,Queens during the late 50’s and early 60’s. We used to play a varity of games, including Snake, Redrover, Red Light-Green-Light, but my favorite was Punchinello. Does anyone remeber this game? The person named Punchinello had to come up with some body contortion that no one could copy. The kids that matched the move stayed in and the ones that didn’t were out. Also, do any of the girls out there remember Baby Carraige Racing? My friends and I would find a good hill and let the buggies fly. What fun we had!
I was at that famous game against South Queens along with all the other Rochdale Jets games in 67, 68, etc. Bryan, my older brother, was the free safety on the team and my dad, Dave, was the “trainer”, although he was better known as the purveyor of the oranges at halftime. Was Lenny Solow the head coach? I played for Phase II – The Rochdale Chiefs – Bantam Division in 71 – 72. Bob Felder was “head coach” and we had numerous “assistant coaches” – especially, Charlie King with his constant yelling you could hear all the way over to Section 2. We went 2-6 and 4-5 respectively and we too had some monstrous losses – namely a 62-0 loss to Far Rockaway and 44-0 to LynVets. Fun times though… Every homegame was preceeded by walking the field for glass and rocks. After 72, the Chiefs disbanded and everybody went their different ways. I remember Bryan and the whole crew went to play “Junior Ball” for the Queens Falcons over in Springfield Gardens and then for the Long Island Tomahawks up at Alley Pond Park. That paved the way for some more of us to play for the Tomahawks in the early-mid 70’s, when making the playoffs was a way of life.
Ding a ling!!! Ding a ling!!! Ding!!!! Ding!!!!! That sound was music to our ears. Growing up in a Garden apartment complex near Queens College, that sound would cause every kid on the block to stop whatever game they were playing, and run home or call up to their window for money. I lived on the second floor and I preferred to call up for money… (no cel phones then!) “MO-OM”!!! “The icecream Man is here!!!” In gobs of white tissue, my mother would throw down the required 15 cents, and off I’d go to buy icecream from the Good Humor Man. Cola or Blue italian ices were the “hot” items of my day. Our neighborhood Good Humor man man was a tall, thin, silverhaired, mustached man named Jack, whom everyone loved. Dressed in sparkling whites, (shirt, slacks, shoes) “Jack the icecream man” would let neighborhood kids ring his bell, and ride his truck for a block or two. It was such fun, and the high point of a summer’s day! Back then, delivery men were on a first name basis with their customers …. We had Jack the icecream man, Louie the eggman, and Milt the Milkman …
I was a big Skelly player. I used to play Skelly all the time as a kid growing up in Da Bronx,Bruckner Blvd to be exact. In the late 60’s & early 70’s. Then in the mid 70’s we moved to Pomonok Housing in Queens where I continued to play. I’ve used almost every top imaginable. Pop off and twist off soda tops,glass rings from the bottles…etc. I had a top for every situation.I even used the plastic covers from coffee cans,I’m talking the 3 lb and 5 lb cans. You had to see the looks on the other kids faces and the fights when I took one of those out. One of my favorite tops was the white plastic pop tops you used to get from the prescription medicine pill bottle. In the days before child proof caps. Another favorite was the desk and chair gliders from school.The secret to a good top was the weight. The large tops were good for blasting the other kids tops into the next neighborhood but for normal game play you needed a top that was as low to the ground as possible and heavy. 95% of the time when people tried to blast me,they would just wind up flying right over the top of my cap and chasing there top down the block. My secret to making a good top ( since my days of playing skelly are long gone I guess I can let it out now…). Like I said it was the weight. The way I accomplished this was to take a medicine top or later on, a chair glider. Before I would melt the wax in it. I would place a penny or a nickle, depeding on how much weight I wanted, in the bottom of the top. Then I would melt my wax on top of it. This would give me a small heavy top that would glide the length of the street if I wanted it to. As far as the skelly board. The way to draw it was first to make a big square on the ground. Then you would make one small sqaure in each of the 4 corners. Next you would draw double boxes on each of the 4 sides in between the 4 corner boxes. In the center of the board you would draw a small box,nbr 13. Around the nbr 13 box you would draw a larger box, approximatley 1 to 1 1/2 feet larger on all sides. Then you would draw a line from each corner of the small nbr 13 box out ward to the corner of the larger box around it dividing it into 4 sections. In each one of the 4 sections you would place a nbr from 1 to 4. When you were done drawing it you would end up basically with the nbr 13 box surrounded by 4 other boxes each with a nbr from 1 to 4 in it. This center section was called skelly. During the course of the game, if anybody landing in one of the 4 boxes surrounding the nbr 13 box, they were in skelly. They were not allowed to shoot anymore untill thier top was knocked out of skelly by another top. Depending on what nbr skelly box they were in ( 1 thru 4) the person who knock them out of skelly whould advance that nbr of boxes. The way the game was played ( in my neighbor hood at least). To start the game, after choosing who would shoot first of course, everybody would have to shoot from a starting line somewere outside the skelly board. Usually around 10 feet away. You would have to shoot for the nbr 13 box first. Then you would shoot for each box in nbr order 1 to 13. Then backwards from 13 back to 1. After you made it back to the nbr 1 box. You would then have to shoot for the nbr 13 box again, once again making sure not to land in skelly. Then after you made it into the nbr 13 box you would have to shoot around the skelly box starting from the nbr 13 box. You had to make it into each Skelly box on one shot and then back into the nbr 13 box to be the winner. Typing this message has brought back alot of memeries of growing up as a kid in Da Bronx and Queens. I now live in Long Island. The kids today ( out here) have no clue of these games or how much fun they were for us. All I see them do now is hangout at the local 7 eleven smoking cigarets……What I would give to go back (in time)just for one day to be that kid again and to play……….
My friends and I were lucky. We grew up in and around “The Big Six Towers” in Queens which was a self-contained couple of acres of trees, pathways, playgrounds, huge flower planters, lots of grass, etc. where we played Ringalario. (No “eve”-io for us) We would run around for hours evading the other team and charging the jail. There were plenty of bushes to hide in so stealth was also part of the game. Of course, the elderly residents weren’t too fond of us racing around, and eluding the security guards used to become part of the game as well.
Here in Queens, Ny a suburb of NYC – being “deported” New Yorkers in my day – 1959 – early 60’s we played in the street – using the “Johnny pump”, manhole cover, etc., as our bases – and the ball definately had to bounce first. C.Umberto
Growing up in Queens, we would also play stoopball a lot, but we played it with a baseball theme. If the ball bounced in front of the first defender and he missed it, then it was a single; between the two guys – double; from the second guy to the row of cars – a triple; and in the street was a homerun (assuming he didn’t catch it while dodging a car). Hitting a “pointer” just meant that you had a great shot at getting a homer.[