that was “chips on the ball!” when it was heading into the sewer (we used metal clothes hangers to retrieve from sewers)or over the garage roof into the woods. Neighbors would see us fishing the sewer (which really smelled like…a sewer) and yell at us “you boys are gonna get polio, I’m gonna tell your mother!”
I grew up in Queens Village. We played “pinkball” variety of handball at Alley Pond Park just inside the Union Tpke entrance (you went under the old Vanderbilt MotorPkway bridge). This was in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Our courts were “one wall.” There was some alternation between Spauldeens and Pennsy Pinkies, but we finally pretty much settled on the Pennsies. It seemed the Spauldeens were being made smaller and the rubber thicker. They didn’t move as well. Now the Pennsies had a bit too much bounce to them, so we’d “pin” them. I carried a safety pin attached to my belt loop. When we got a new ball we’d simply push the pin through the skin and it then would bounce just right. We usually got our balls from Michael’s Candy Store on Hillside Avenue where Bell Park Manor and Terrace Apartments were (and are). The owners of Michael’s back in the day had a sign on the box holding the balls: “If you bounce it you bought it.” Oh, and yes sir, those were the days!
Spaldings had texture so you could put English on them when you pitched. The only bad thing about them was that they split too easily—one good swing and two halves would go flying. If a couple of kids brought theirs down to play, we’d drop them all from the same height and use whichever one bounced back up the highest—then that owner would yell “chips”!
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I played stickball on 61 street between 6th and 7th ave in Brooklyn in the late 50’s. Home plate was either the sewer near the Gooch’s house, or up by the lot near sixth ave. The latter was better because the outfield spread out at sixth ave. The leaders on the apartment house were the foul posts. The outfielders had to dodge traffic on the ave. Spaldeens were better. They didn’t egg as easy as the pennsy pinky. Max’s candy store on seventh ave would let us test bounce the balls to get the best one. Spaldeen 25 cents. Pennsy pinky 15 cents. Remember when they started to sell stickball bats with the black tape for grip. No more broom handles.
During the thirties we bought our candy in Jakies on Brooklyn Avenue between Herkimer Street and Atlantic Avenue. In the evening our Fathers used to hang out in front waiting for the bulldog editions of the newspapers to be delivered so they could check on the race track results. In those days a store like Jakies carried many newspapers and the Daily Mirror and the Daily News were the ones with the most complete horse racing results. If a kid managed to come up with a penny, he or she had a great many choices to make in front of Jakes candy case. . . a Hootens bar, jaw breakers, sugar dots on a strip of paper, Mary Janes, Fleers bubble gum, etc. If you took too long to make a choice Jake would say, “Come on kid, I ain’t got all day.” You tried to choose a piece of candy which would last a long time. Those were the days!
Then there was Didee Doll, an early wetter.
Thats chinese handball! or ace, king, queen. I dont remember it being called slug. Names of games changed in all areas of ny in the 1960’s.In QUEENS it was,hey you wanna play ‘chinese’. We played in the school park against the brick wall of a park bathroom building.We used a spaldeen.It was a very fast game,played low to the ground,and wore out alot of Keds sneakers. You had to find a good place with a wall or fence in back of you,so you didnt have to chase the ball.
I don’t have much to add, so forgive me for repeating anything: Spaldeens cost about 25 cents in the 1960’s in my neighborhood in The Bronx near Morris Avenue and 164th Street. Occasionally Harry’s candy store sold “seconds” for about 15 cents or twenty cents. The Five and Ten on Morris Avenue sold P Pensie Pinkies, which I remember as softer and inferior balls — they were for girls’ games. They were not the ball of choice for the boys. And new Spaldeens had some kind of powder on them — and had a distinctive smell. And some were harder than other — those are the ones you wanted, because they bounced better. We didn’t play stick ball on my block but we played Slug — also known as King Queen Jack on some blocks — who remembers that game? It was played in the boxes on the sidewalk, against the apartment house wall — WHO REMEMBERS SLUG?
I am from Flushing Queens, where we would usually buy Pensie Pinkies and Spaldeens from Joe’s, which was the nearest candy store. Sometimes when I had no money, I ‘d swipe a Pensie from my sister, who, along with her friends, used them mostly in an activity that involved keeping the ball in bounce while reciting different rhymes that were punctuated by passing their legs over the ball before it would bounce back up. I lived on a hill where many of these balls ended up in the sewer at the end of the block. You could retrieve them using a garden rake, but if they remained in the water too long, they almost certainly went dead. We used to play stick ball, box ball, Chinese handball, catch a fly and you’re up, and many, many more games using them. As I recall, the favored brand for stickball at least, was Spalding, but I never observed too much difference between the two.