> I guess I’ll have to play a few games to remember again I want to do this too. I live in Westchester NY, but I think I can find a lot of clean, level pavement in the local now-defunct Caldor’s parking lot. Not a bad place to squeeze in some stickball either now that I think of it.
We had the “No Baby s#@*” rules too. There are alot of rules we used to call at the start of the game too depending on who was playing,it’s just hard trying to recall them. We used to call “no switchies or Changies” in reference to switching tops and a bunch of others I forgot. Untill I read your message I had forgotten all about becoming a killer and having to hit you opponents top 3 times in a row to knock him out of the game. I don’t remember the exact nbr’s in the skully boxes but the way you drew the board is how I remember it……….I guess I’ll have to play a few games to remember again….
Hey everyone, This is how the skully board typically looked on Grand Avenue in Da Bronx: http://www.westnet.com/~hmcnally/images/skully.gif Please notice that the numbers in “the skull” (the middle part) are 2-4-6-8. These were the bonus boxes you got for hitting someone out of that region. I realize some people used 1-2-3-4. I am not absolutely sure what numbers occupied which skull boxes, but this seems as good as any. We came up with a cool variant on the bonus box: one was the letter “K” (hit a person out, you become an instant killer). The other was an asterisk, which reversed where you were in the game (if you were going for “5-forwards”, you instantly plopped yourself into the 6 box and went for “5-backwards”). The 13-box is 25% of the size of a normal box. Because it’s small, we’d always hit someone for the one-box bonus instead of actually shooting for 13. The other alternative was to try to “creep up a line” of the skull. I remember the boxes being about 1 foot square, and spaced as in my drawing. I remember seeing other boards with huge boxes and tiny boxes, so I figure we were about average on Grand Ave. I should attempt to draw one now and measure it; the box spacing could be significantly different, and the proof would be in the playing. We ultimately used spray paint to draw the board because we got tired of drawing it in chalk! Did anyone have any other variants? I’d love to know. Cool cinema fact: you can see a skully board in some overhead shots of the Scorsese film “Mean Streets.” -HMM
> You had to see the looks on the other kids faces and the fights when I took one of those out We went through the “bizarre cap phase” too; it got ridiculous (people using incredibly large caps to shoot, switching them to unhittable flat caps while other people shot). We got to the point where we agreed that no cap bigger than the ice-cream pushup could be used (about 2″ diameter), and you could switch a cap only when your turn started (and you had to leave it on the street until your next turn). We came up with a collective term for cap-switching, “rollsies,” and other stuff that took away from the essence of accuately shooting a cap from box to box: “Baby s*&#”. On Grand Ave., a serious game of Skully started out with the proud proclamation: “NO BABY S*#&!” BTW, thanks for mentioning the prescription pill cap. That was a distinct step in Skully cap evolution. I am working on the rules of Skully for this website (in cooperation with the webmaster here) and hope to have something coherent in a few weeks. I had done this codification when I was a freshman in high school, and I sure wish I kept it. I appreciate all input/memories anyone has on the game of Skully; I’m sure that when the “official rules” document hits the fan, I’ll get plenty more material to work on. I realize that the rules to any street game vary from block to block, but I think Skully lends itself to this codification (so many cool rules and terms, like “pipsies,” “rollsies,” “blasters,” etc.). It is my sincere hope that by setting down these rules that more kids will play Skully and stop smoking Kents at the 7-11. -HMM
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……….
On Grand Ave. in Da Bronx, we called it Skully, though the variants mentioned here weren’t uncommon. Our game-play equipment evolved over the years like one of those “tools made by man through the ages” charts you’d see in your 4th grade history, I mean, social studies textbook. At first we used the bottlecap, specifically from beer bottles (the twist-off variety, which didn’t get dented by a bottle opener upon removal). Lots of glide, but very light, blastable, and didn’t hold up great under car tires. We found that new bottlecaps had new paint on them, and they glided better. We then filled bottlecaps with wax, usually from a crayon. They were still fragile, but still glided well even with the additional weight. A weighted cap was good for blasting an unweighted cap, but when everyone’s cap was weighted, it didn’t much matter (physics and all). Since some labor went into putting wax in a cap, we began to scratch an “x” underneath the cap, using the cap itself, and then picked it up from the street if a car was coming so it wouldn’t get damaged. This is akin to what golfers do on the green; I think we invented the technique and the PGA picked it up. The next step in skully cap evolution was the “push-up ice cream pusher.” Back in the day, Good Humor sold ice cream in a cardboard tube called a “Push Up” (I think). The plastic thing that pushed the ice cream made an excellent skully cap (excellent glide), but it wore out quickly and was very fragile. Luckily, you could replace them by buying more ice cream. There were a spate of bizarre caps at this time of evolution (mayonnaise lids, Heinz catsup bottle caps) but one was notable: the glass cap. The glass cap was obtained from the ring atop the neck of a non-twist-off beer bottle. To get this cap involved much labor, as you would rub the top of the bottle repeatedly over the bumps of a manhole cover, hoping that the ring would crack off just right. It did about 10% of the time. This cap would glide like crazy, had no blasting power, and worked until it broke. Cars running over this cap didn’t much hurt it, but the final step in Skully Cap evolution did: the steel chair glider. The steel chair glider was found underneath your desk in school. You removed it using a bottle opener you sneaked into school. If you were smart, you’d liberate all four gliders so your chair wouldn’t rock. It was the perfect skully cap. Impenetrable to all elements, great glide, and blasting power. Some of these caps were big, some were small–if you were lucky, you had more than one size cap. I still have mine to this day! Let’s hear some more skully cap lore!
I’m like any other kid from Brooklyn and remember skelly very well. I remember the set up – a large square – usually a cement square on the sidewalk of our dreams – we’d chalk several small squares in each of the four corners, additional small squares on each of the four sides of the larger square. Then a smaller square in the center. We’d use bottle caps, and yes, sometimes we’d melt wax in them to give them extra weight. It brings back memories of my Brooklyn of the early 50’s on Pennsylvania and Belmont Avenues, before moving into the Boulevard Projects, where we’d also play the game. Do our children even understand the dynamics of the game?
I just heard about skully for the first time about a week ago talking to a guy who grew up in Brooklyn. In Philly we called it deadbox. I imagine it’s pretty much the same game with boxes 1 to 12 and the deadbox, always decorated with a skull and crossbones. It’s way funny how all the games were similar like buck-buck instead of Johnie on the Pony or whatever…but damn it they were all fun. Kids today don’t know how to play and how good clean and sometimes physical fun. whatever….