Fascinating discussions of a game that I have never heard of but intend to start playing with my daughters immediately. One probably foolish question: when you say shoot, do you mean as in gliding the top along the pavement as you would in shuffleboard? Or are you bouncing them into place liking pitching pennies?
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!
Hugh, Post the rules ASAP. Im going to get my kids playing as soon as I can. I dont think anyone in California but me has ever heard of Skelly. We could be playing this weekend since the weather has turned nice. And we live on a dead end street so there wont be many cars to run over the lids. Thanks, Bob
Last year I had the occassion of setting up a skully board in Brooklyn. We were talking to some cops (from the Bronx) who also remember using this “Board of Ed” skully piece too, back in 6th grade So exactly how did you pry off the bottom of the chair? By the way – good luck teaching your kid – but perhaps you should leave this part out of the instructions!
Hello all I grew up on 165th street and the grand concourse in the bronx and we played skulley every day. I’m fairly sure we pronounced it skulley, but skelley could have been it. My favorite caps were made from the bottom of school chairs. It was a real labor prying of those rubber fillers with the nail in the middle, but well worth it. In fact today, I popped open some beer bottles and melted crayons to make some caps to teach my 9 year old son and 5 yr old daughter. I found this sight looking for refresher on the rules. I remember us starting from a start lines outside of the skulley board and then working 1 to 13 forward and then backwards and then we were crowned or something and could really kick butt at that point. I would love to see the full rules posted and variations from different neigborhoods would be cool too. take care all
Here’s how we played in Rochdale Village in Queens circa late 1960’s: We also used bottle caps weighed down with melted crayons. I remember Mom getting pissed when some dripped inside her newly cleaned oven. After awhile, some guys used the plastic caps that came on the “new” plastic milk containers. We quickly outlawed the larger jar caps, especially the Motts Apple Sauce caps. Our box was a prepainted “boxball” court (there’s another great game)that was approx. 6’x6′. Each numbered box, done up in chalk, was about 6″x6″. “Running out of town” was prohibited! If I remember correctly, after running 1 – 13 and then 13 – 1, you had to go around the “Skelly” before you became a Killer. You had to hit a guy three times to get him out. Obviously, you would try to line up that third hit so that you could blast him out of the playground – just to rub it in a little.
Fellow Skully players, I have finally begun work on my “Official Skully Rules” document. I’ve gotten through the introductory rules and a glossary of terms. I’d like to know the voice of the people on releasing it unfinished: a) Wait until you finish b) Let us see it now c) Stop writing the official rules, bad idea anyway Come on, folks, we need more skully chat. Scour your memories, and tell us all how _you_ played the game, like… o how big were the boxes? o what size was the board? o what was the weirdest cap you used? o what was your shooting technique? o what bonuses did you have (pipsies, numbers around the “13” box, etc.) o where did you play (street, indoors, what city, etc.) Yack it up! -HMM
I came from South Brooklyn, and we called it skellzees. In our neighborhood, in the late 60s, we only used bottle caps. Nothing larger was allowed. We weighted them down with melted crayons — in all colors. Some of the houses on our street had slate sidewalks, and they were the best to play on. The bottlecaps would just glide across. Makes me want to play again!!
WOW, I came from the Lower East Side, Forsythe Street and this was my favorite game. We called it Skell-zee. I thought it was a game that we kids had invented. No one has ever know what I was talking about when I’ve talked about this game. We used bottle tops and mostly used orange peels to weigh them down. It was a great clean game, of course, unless you laid flat down on the dirty sidewalk. We also had the park across the street where we would chalk the game down on the playing field. We also played iron tag.