We used to play a game called “buck buck”. Consisted of 2 teams…one guy would lean against a wall. Next guy would bend over and put his shoulder into the 1st guys groin area (not what you’re thinking either) Each other guy would then bend over and place their head between the legs of the guy in front of him so all that was exposed really were the guys backs. Other team would then one by one run and jump on the backs of the other team. If the team jumping could not get all their members on or if a guy fell off or his foot touched the ground after he jumped on, they lose. If the down team caved in they lost and had to assume the same position for another round. Once all of the 2nd team had jumped on and no one caved in, one of the members of the top team would yell out, “Buck buck how many fingers up?” One of the bottom guys had to guess how many fingers was being held up. If they were wrong they were down again for another back pounding. If they guessed correct, the teams changes positions for the next game. It could be a very rough game. We played this in McKeesport, PA.
In Far Rockaway, N.Y., Johnny on the Pony was played mostly on the beach. As described by others, one person would stand as what we called the pillow (as opposed to pillar). The rest of the team would line up crouched over head to butt with the pillow holding the head of the lead croucher. The other team would then run and jump leap-frog like to land stradled on the line of crouched kids. The object of the game was to support the weight of the entire team long enough to say; “Johnny on a Pony 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3”. Of course, the prevailing strategy would be to target one weak link (or unlikeable kid) in the chain and to have the entire team try to pile drive on that kid. More often than not, the pile would tip over sideways and fall off. Only brave and dopey kids played this game without shirts. The beach sand could file the skin off of your back when kids would leap as high as they could to crash down on you. In spite of the sand playing field, it’s a miracle that no one broke their back playing this game.
What a find! I was always interested in collecting baseball cards because I had some from my older brother, and loved baseball. Back in about 1970 or 71, the official “hobby” of collectibles was still quite young. I was starting to buy cards from dealers. By today’s standards they were quite cheap. Cards like Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays from 1956 sold for $6 or $7, as shown in publications like The Trader Speaks. My friend David and I, also a collector cards, heard of a sale in Brooklyn. We lived in eastern Queens, so we understood this would be a long ride. We decided to take the bus and train and each brought a couple of hundred bucks, hoping we’d get “lucky.” When we got out of the train, we realized were in a pretty tough section of Bedford Stuyvesant (2 Black Panther Storefronts within the couple of blocks from the train). David was black, and I’m white and though we both had a fairly good street sense, we realized we were a bit out of our element. At 16 between the long ride, train transfers and different neighborhood, it felt like a long way from home. We went to the home of a guy named Ronald Moore, an early collector. Ronald was both friendly and very knowledgeable about the collectibles. He showed us his collectible items and early hobby publications “The Sports Hobbyist” (circa ’60, ’61). Ronald had to leave town, and in order to raise some cash was doing a big “fire sale.” He had stacks of excellent condition Topps baseball cards from 1957-1962, doubles and triples of Mays, Mantle, Clemente, Kaline. Oh Wow! Hobby-heaven. We walked out of there, each of us carrying 2 or 3 shopping bags of cards. David and I were both able to make nearly full sets of cards for those years, with plenty of doubles to spare. It was only years later that I realized what a “find” this was. This provided the base for my collection as well as a nice economic cushion, which helped me for example, to pay moving costs into different NYC apartments.
Anyone remember St. Johns Teacher college, and Cary Field? How about Johnny on the pony with the guys, Frank C., Joe W., Stanley C. and all the Willoughby Ave. gang. How about Big Richie B.?
My Mother and Dad and their friends took me to Coney many times in the 1920’s when I was little..never allowed in the water and never learned to swim..Mom and Dad were really strong swimmers..I played with my sand bucket..imagine that? We had fun..Dad drank wine with a relative and they both got ‘smashed’..really common in those days of Prohibition…that was a stupid mistake banning booze.’ John
Grew up on Wilson Street and Lee Avenue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Attended Boys High School. Most friends went to Eastern District or Seward Park High School. Most of us played punch ball with a “baby line.” three steps to Germany, Johnny on the Pony, Chinese handball and box ball. We read and traded comic books. “Action Comics, Detective Comics, Marvel, King Feature Comics and read the comics in the newspapers. Dick Tracy, (my favorite), Smiling Jack with Fat Stuff losing a button to a ubiquitous chicken who followed him everywhere. Saturday matines for 5 cents we saw a chapter (Tim Tyler’s Luck or Flash Gordon) the Paramount News (Monkees do the craaaaziest things,)two or three features, a cartoon and sometimes a door prize announced from the stage. I could go on forever and include the radio programs for which we raced home from the school playground to hear.