Re: “King” (Lee Quinn). In Astoria, Queens in the early ’60’s, we played a game much like King called ‘Chinese Handball.” Many variations. One was as you described (if I’m understanding you correctly) where you could only shoot into a neighboring box (i.e., the Queen could shoot into the King or Jack box…the Jack into the Queen or 10 box] and the player who missed would go to the end with all other moving up. Another variation allowed anyone to shoot for the King (and replace him if you got him out). Sometimes we didn’t even keep score…just looked to be King for the longest amount of time (impressionistically speaking)….A shot that bounced low on the wall and then rolled was called a “killer.” You could hit a higher percentage of killers by slicing the ball…but carrying the ball was not allowed……
July,1939,The Bronx. Six of us were playing a pickup game on Daley Ave. (between Tremont and 178th St)right in front of the “Mad Doctor’s” house because it always ticked him off. This day he called the cops. As the Squad car rounded the corner, someone yelled, “Cheese it, the Bulls” We scattered to various spots on the sidewalk and tried to look innocent, so that the cops would just keep going. But they didn’t. The stopped in front of the Doctor’s house who came out and began fingering the guys. The cops herded five of the six ( and the stick) into the Squad Car and hauled them down to the 48th Precinct Station. The 6th player (me) had ducked into a doorway and escaped notice. As soon as the coast was clear, I (like Paul Revere)sounded the alarm to a few parents who had to pay a nickle (each way) to take the Tremont Ave. trolley to the police station and “bail out” their kids. The lectures and the warning didn’t impress us because we were back the next day, right in front of the Doctor’s house playing stickball, curbball, stoopball, slugball, and/or boxball. In those days, we paid 5c for a Leader and 15c for a Spaldeen. One day we found a golf ball and used it to play stoopball until I got a great hit that broke a neighbor’s window. We scattered because we knew she was an old grouch and wouldn’t give back the ball.
Chinese Handball. We played against the wall of Pete`s Candy Store in Rosedale, Queens. During the late 50`s through the 1960`s Pete`s Candy Store was our handball court of choice. Of course we played Aces,or “A-s“ up … 🙂 … and we usually used a (spelled as it is pronounced) Spaldeene. The spaldeen really did hurt, sometimes leaving a welt. Yeah, some of the guys really threw hard, but fortunately their was only one loser in a group of up to 12 or more of us. Unfortunately, all the guys got to throw at the losers butt. 😉 If you were one of the, probably over 30 to forty players their at the time, I would sure like to see you here. My nick name at the time was, Rosie, Bloom, or worse. ;-a
“By Bruce Deitchman on Wednesday, May 26, 1999 – 12:05 am: Please allow me to share my views on the subject. IMHO, Spaldeens (as they are pronounced) are the proper tool for games such as stickball, however I have found Pennsy Pinkies more appropriate for Chinese handball and boxball.“ I gotta agree with everything the guy above me here says. Additionally, the Spaldeens were great for the game of Steem. Where a few guys choosed up sides and ya pitched the ball to the batter as if it were a hardball. A box for the strike zone was drawn on a wall with chalk behind the batter, and the pitcher paced off (I forget how many) several yards to the chalk drawn pitchers mound. Regular balls and strikes added an more action. Ground rules varied depending on how many players were in the game. This was one of my favorites when I was a young teenager. We usually played in the school yard courtyard. Spaldeens were the ball of choice because of their liveliness bouncing back to the pitcher when the batter missed your pitch. 🙂
You’d always want to win Chinese Handball, because if you lost Booty’s Up Chinese handball was very skillful, unlike regular handball you really had to cut the ball, like table tennis. I had a friend named Maxine in East New York, she could make that ball die. She beat all the guys in regular handball and Chinese handball. She was murder on us. I’m going to call her up and tell her about today.
Please allow me to share my views on the subject. IMHO, Spaldeens (as they are pronounced) are the proper tool for games such as stickball, however I have found Pennsy Pinkies more appropriate for Chinese handball and boxball.
We had a neighbor, old man Gurren, who had a French Renault Dauphine with the two tone horn. He claimed the car had great gas mileage. Everyday before he left for work he’d blow the horn on both tones and wake everybody up. The neighbors were really bent out of shape. This guy was a blow hard, always cutting down American cars and to make things worse, he worked at the Ford Plant in Cincinnati and what was even more of a blow was that I was definitely a Chevy man (of 9 years old). We use to go to St. Joseph’s Church Friday Fish Fry each week and ever since old man Gurren bought that “frenchie” car old man Gurren was always braggin about his French import. He blasphemed American cars and to a kid that could name – by sight – every American car produced in the last 10 years and the various models, old man Gurren was committing a large unforgiveable sin. Yes a Fish Fry, what else does a Catholic boy do on Fridays, who lives across the street from a Catholic church and whose mother is about to marry a man who has a daughter whose is a Benedictine Nun. I decided old man Gurren had to be stopped and I hit upon a plan that would make this guy look ridiculous. Every night for about two weeks I would sneak to this guy’s car and from a gas can I snitched from a landscaping truck parked nearby, I’d fill up his gas tank. Now our neigborhood was small and old man Gurren would go right after supper and sit in Holman’s bar or pitch horseshoes while betting on the horses at Klainies’ bar and tell outlandish stories of the fabulous gas mileage he was getting in his Renault Dauphine Deluxe – 50-60 miles to the gallon and by the end of two weeks everybody believed him to be a fool, as he was claiming 75-80 miles to the gallon when my step-dad to be’s Chevy was getting 14 miles per gallon. This was my own effort to get everyone to buy American. The men called him crazy and stupid. The guy who ran the local gas station backed him up and told everybody that he hadn’t seen old man Gurren in for gas for at least two weeks, but all of the men just figured he was going into another area to buy gas. Old man Gurren was becoming the laughing stock of our neighborhood. My plan was working. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing this to old man Gurren. And I planned it to be sweet revenge for American made cars. I never thought about the damage I was doing to the dealer who sold Renaults or the poor suckers who were either running there to get these wonderful cars, only to be disappointed when the cars didn’t get 75 miles to the gallon of gas or the people who stayed away from the dealer. Today I would probably be in the center of some kind of law suit. It all ended when I got caught “borrowing” the gas can from the landscaping truck one night by Mr. Bowman who owned the landscaping truck. He thought some one was stealing his gas and he sat on the Dolan’s porch one night and saw me and followed me. He told me he wanted all the gas back, and I said I couldn’t pay for it because it was 19 cents a gallon and I didn’t have the money but I promised I’d get him the gas back little by little as long as he didn’t tell my soon to be step-dad cause I’d get the beatin’ of my life. Mr. Bowman wanted to know why I was stealing the gas and filling up old man Gurren’s gas tank and I told him about my revenge on old man Gurren, he couldn’t stop laughing. Mr. Bowman knew that old man Gurren was actually telling the “truth” down at Holman’s bar – as old man Gurren knew it. Mr. Bowman told me he would not rat me out if I replaced his gas. I was temporarily relieved but how could a nine year old earn enough gas money now that school started up again? I thought long and hard running many senarios through my young brain. I finally hit on an idea that was beautifully simple – if I could put gas in old man Gurren’s car, I could get gas out. My idea was to siphon the gas out of old man Gurren’s car every night until I “paid back” Mr. Bowman. And so I did, a length of old garden hose that Queenie our hound had chewed up in a fit of anger and Mr. Bowman’s gas can. I can’t believe I did it, but every night for close to two weeks, after old man Gurren’s lights were off, I slipped out of my bedroom window, down on to our kitchen roof, grab the 5 feet of old garden hose I stashed in the gutter and drop to the ground and head for Mr. Bowman’s truck, grab the gas can and sneak to old man Gurren’s car. I’d take off the gas cap, slide the hose in until it bottomed out and suck like heck on the hose. Several times I had to repeat the process because a car was coming down the street or some one was staggering home from Holman’s or Klainie’s bar. Nobody would call the cops for somebody filling a gas tank, but taking gas out would be a reason to stop a kid of 9 years old. Some nights I’d spill a half gallon in the gutter just trying to get the hose from my mouth to the gas can. One night I got gas in my mouth and was sick for two days. Mr. Bowman heard I’d gotten sick and got word through to me from my …
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.
Out on LI, just off Hempstead Turnpike in W. Hempstead, there was a long red brick supermarket wall, and concrete paving all the way to the street. This became known as “The Office.” Games of ‘Chinese’ Handball went on all day long in the late 50s and early 60s. Chinese handball was played in a ‘court’ usually two pavers square and was distinguished by one rule: You had to bounce the ball once before it hit the wall. “The Office” was well equipped: Across the street was “Three Finger Jack” McGinn’s candy store, and there was a staircase next to the handball wall where you could climb down and have more ‘private’ conversation, or hide if your mom came looking for you and your cigarette-smoking hooligan friends.