Johnny on the pony was called “Buck Buck” in South Brooklyn. One team would crouch over one behind the other with one member “The Pillar” standing against a wall. The other team would leap on to the backs of the team crouched over, hoping to double or triple up on one person. The object was to cause a cave in. When all members of the leaping team were up on top of the other team, one of them would hold up one or two fingers and yell out “Buck Buck how many fingers are up. If the team crouched over guessed right, they would get to leap, if not, they had to crouch over again. “The Pillar” was the judge to make sure the leaping team did not cheat.
What I remember best about playing Skelly was the variety of pieces we’d use. Usually we’d use bottle tops from soda bottles. Of course this was before the twist-off tops so the trick was to get the top off the bottle without bending it. Sometimes we’d melt crayons into the bottle tops to give them weight – then we could blast the opponent’s top down the block. Sometimes we’d have an open game where you could use any type of top you wanted – large jar tops were particular favorites. These had to be big enough to maximize the chance of hitting your opponent, but not too big to fit into a destination box. The wickedest thing I remember was, when you landed in a box and your opponent was sitting on the box edge, you could put your top right up against his and kick then as far as you could. You got to go to the next box, but your opponent might need the rest of the day to get back on the court!
In my neighborhood (brooklyn and lefferts, in brooklyn) we played a game called heels. it was quite sophisticated and required a large collection of all kinds of heels, including some we doctored up. i have realized over the years, even though this game was quite sophisticated, it was very local. anyone else?
This is a sidewalk game of skill called “Pack.” The currency for payoffs was in “tickets” (cards); these were usually movie star cards or WWII cards depicting airplanes, ships, or war scenes. The only piece of equipment was a pack of cards (these could be ordinary playing cards) tied up with rubber bands or tape. The “court” consisted of four sidewalk boxes in a row. At one end was the base or starting line. Three boxes away (i.e. at the start of the fourth box) was the LINE. Assume that an order of play was agreed upon (more about this later). Then, in turn, one tossed his pack from the base line toward the LINE. Closest to (or on) the LINE determined the order of play for the rest of this round. If more than one was on the LINE, priority went to the later ones. To play, one picks up his pack and kneels, putting one knee where the pack was. With the other arm not on the ground for balance, one would toss (or place) his pack. One had to get his pack on the LINE to convert his pack into a KING; for only a KING could “capture” another pack. To capture another pack, your pack must lie on top of his (leaning but partially on top is OK). The captured player pays the capturing player one ticket and removes his pack from this round of the game. Getting on the LINE or capturing lets you immediately play again. The round ceases when all but one pack remains. Playing order for the beginning of the next round is the order in which players were captured in the previous round. Obviously it is good to be last (so that you can either go for the LINE or drop quite short of it to avoid being captured early. The last player to begin the round is called LARRY. How to start the game: Someone says “Let’s play pack.” Everyone immediately yells, “Larry.” Somehow (by oldest or bulliest player making an arbitrary decision) they agree on the order in which people yelled “Larry.” The first one who yelled “Larry” gets to go last; the second one, next to last, etc. Bad features: Parents did not approve of this for two reasons: (1) It promoted gambling, little kids invariably lost all their tickets to the big kids with their longer reach. (2) Very quickly, a hole would be worn in your right knee of your best corduroy pants. Good feature: It encouraged the purchasing of “tickets”: These usually came in a strip of eight which had to be cut apart. Much war history was learned by kids reading the backs of their tickets.
I was thinking of the games we used to play with a Spaldeen. There were games for only one person up through a full baseball team. As I remember them they were: 1 Person Catch with yourself- throw the ball up and catch it. Practicing your pitching against a box on the wall Throwing the ball against the wall to see how high you could throw it. On the roof was the ultimate Throwing the ball off the wall (or stoop) and practicing your catching ability. 2 Persons Box Baseball Hit the penny. Stickball Catch American Handball, paddle ball, etc. Off the wall Stoopball 3 Persons Monkey in the middle Running Bases Salugi (?) or keep away Chinese handball Larger Groups Punchball Slapball I’m sure there are more. But for 25 cents, nothing could beat thatbeautiful pink ball with the word Spaulding stamped on it. We didn’t need our parents making schedules, driving us all over the place. Just us and a little ball, and we were in heaven for hours. Mark Podhorzer Now of Atlanta GA, but in my heart always from Brooklyn
Ken Edwards Brighton Beach 50’s and 60’s. You would wake up in the morning and wait. Soon you would hear, “Hey Kenny, could you come out?” If your parents were up, you would say, “Ma, can I go out and play?” In about 20 minutes, you had about 10 to 20 friends trying to figure out what to do first. Sometimes it was stickball, sometimes dodgeball, sometimes it was skelly or chinese handball. If it was too early in the morning, water would be flying out of somebody’s window and they would yell, “can’t you kids play elsewhere, it is too early in the morning.” No matter what, you were with a group of friends. This lasted till your mother popped her head out of the window and yelled your name to come home. 4 October 1997