IT WAS THE 60’S. Growing up in Mid-town Manhatten, East 79th St. to be exact. EVERY SINGLE DAY after school (PS 190 on 82nd st.) the Chinese Handball Games got started. It was me and Dennis Gross, Toby Edwards, Cam, Seth Rosten, and some other guys. We would play for hours. 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 4:45 pm we would start to leave, but there was always a couple of guys who would hold out until the very end… right up til the time the streetlights would come on. Once they started to flicker, you better run home, because it meant you were right at the supper deadline. If you were late, you didn’t eat. That was the rules. Anyway, Chinese Handball ruled, and we didn’t like it when the losing kids would leave early, because it meant we couldn’t nail ’em with Asses Up. Man, those were the days – so innocent. It seems like a dream. But, it really happened. I was there. I saw America when it played – before it lost it’s soul. I grew up in an America that had heart. Now, people just want to have virtual fun, play artificial games, and rather than having the heart to pursue their own passions, they sit at home, content to watch reality shows in which other people pursue their passions. Man, I would love to play just one more game of Chinese handball with Dennis and Toby. You guys out there, anywhere?
PS 186 bellerose,glen oaks, queens 1950’s 1960’s.We played it behind a small brick school park building.Only enough room for two players.Thats the only way i played,one on one,a very fast game,one side of your sneakers allways wore out.And scrapping you fingers on the cement didnt help.The big kids had the little black hand ball,rock hard,with a glove,that was what every kid wanted,that ‘BOSS’ hand ball and special handball glove.And a ten speed bike too!
Just expanding on the comment above– we didn’t start playing stickball in my neighborhood until late teens, maybe adulthood. I wonder if that’s common? I see I posted in the chinese handball section a number of years back that chinese was the ONLY game we played, which was indeed the case until maybe 13-14 years old, when for some reason we switched to stickball, softball, etc. Anybody else do that?
We played at PS 166 in Astoria (33 St & 35 Ave)well into our 20s, usually one-on-one. We’d chalk or paint a strikezone on the wall and use a tennis ball, which was much more controllable and harder to hit for distance than a spaldeen. (I used to carry in my trunk a can of spraypaint and my ancient taped-up bat which had shortened drastically over the years from splintering at the ends and propping up a buddy’s air conditioner.) The pitcher’s line was about 50 ft away. Two outs per inning, grounders fielded cleanly and caught fly balls were outs. Any fairly placed hit that stayed in the yard was a single, in the street was a double, against the 3-story buildings across the street a triple, and over the buildings a homer. As we got older and the bat shorter, homeruns declined and eventually ceased entirely. There was a deli on the corner and a souvlaki stand on the next block. We’d drink beer and stuff our faces between games. Next day would invariably entail total immobility due to back injury suffered from pitching 36-45 innings without warm-up, and this only got worse as we got older. When my buddy and I moved to LA we tried playing in a couple of schoolyards (I think Palms Jr. High was one of them?) but it wasn’t the same. Since then PS 166 built a new structure which filled their yard so the entire venue no longer exists. I also played a LOT of chinese handball, but with slightly different rules than those I’ve seen elsewhere. All obstacles are in the field of play, one bounce to the car and one bounce off is still alive, the ball only has to hit the wall inbounds– we played on a handball wall or against the supermarket without ace/king/queen boxes– but can bounce out and still be live. This encouraged getting up close on the wall for a steep angle and slamming it down the block. Taught it to a couple of friends in Texas years later and they loved it. The quality of play in different neighborhoods (and on different blocks within the same neighborhhod) varied tremendously. When I was an early teen, the quality of play on my turf was significantly higher than that I saw in Jackson Heights or Elmhurst, but that’s probably changed many times over the years. I still have an outstanding challenge with a childhood chum who’s now a lawyer in Philly (he grew up next to PS 2 near LaGuardia) that I’ll spot him 19 points in a game to 21 and he’s been ducking me for over 30 years on this. Hope he reads this…
I remember playing the game in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, and as I recall we called it Kings, using the cement pavement cracks as markers, and was played the same way as generally described. Thanks for the memories.
We played this game back in the day in the School Yard on Hull Avenue in The Bronx;teams of 20-30 per side;we also played Box-Baseball,PunchBall,Stickball(Both Fungo Style and Pitching In Vs a Box drawn on a wall as a strike zone).Also played Ace-King-Queen with the loser playing in a game called Cans Up.Also played Stoop Ball(also called Off The Point)using Spaldeens and Pennsylvania Pinkys!
In Astoria, we called it Ace,King,Queen. Asses. up had to be called in the beginning. We also had rules about who chased the ball if it went into the street. Last player to touch the wall had to get the ball. Chips were often called in case the ball went down the sewer. Spaldeens were the preferred ball but sometimes we used a Pennsy Pinky. We also had a rule that if the ball hit a car after only one bounce you could hit “off the car” legally. We the “Ace” got “out” he went to the end of the line, as did anyone else who faltered. I don’t recall if only the Ace scored points but I think so. A good, low “slice” would generally take out a player. We generally used the sidewalk boxes for each players area. Sometimes we would mark it off with chalk but that usually only happened if the landlord with the sidewalk boxes chased us away!
Several years ago, I was trying to explain the game of skully (skullies) to my wife, when I came upon this site. I told my brother and sisters about it, and haven’t been back here since. Recently, we were talking about other games we played in the city (Bronx) and we all remembered the game SLUGS. We never knew it as any other name, no one on the block called it Chinese Handball, Ace-King-Queen, etc. It was always known by us, and everyone around the block, as SLUGS. We lived and played this game around 181 St., on Valentine Ave, and over at P.S. 9/115, which isn’t even called that anymore (damn, imagine that, they changed our school names). Guess I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s been 30 years since I lived and played in the Bronx. Can’t tell you how much I miss playing stickball, and off-the-point (stoop-ball), off-the-wall and skullies (we use to take the school chairs into the hallway or stairs where they had those big iron grids covering the radiators, the grids just the right size to pop the metal chair slide off the bottom of the chairs – which we all know kicked ass over the bottle cap tops, or the bottle rings tops). And then there was kick-the-can, Ringoleavio, and on a hot summer day, we open up those fire hydrants and use a can with the lid removed on both ends to direct volumes of arching water all over… damn, it was great. Anyway… just wanted to share, and will be forwarding this forum to my brother and sisters so that they too can be assured, we weren’t fooling ourselves… it was called SLUGS.
ANYONE HERE REMEMBER THE YARD? RIGHT BY THE 4 TOWERS IN QUEENS BETWEEN MARATHON PARKWAY AND LILLTE NECK PARKWAY? THE TOWN WAS CALLED DEEPDALE/BEECH HILLS. TO THIS DAY WE STILL FIGHT ABOUT WHICH SPOT HAD THE BEST LOOKING BABES. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DON’T KNOW THERE IS A WEBSITE. IT’S AT WWW.BEECHHILLS.HOMESTEAD.COM/ IF ANYONE REMEMBERS THE YARD TAKE A LOOK AT THE WEBSITE. YOU WILL SEE FACES YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IN 40 YEARS. DENNIS GORME