In Staten Island late 60’s early 70’s we had “Crab Apple Fights”. Same idea as chestnut fights (chestnut trees were diseased and gone by then) but with no rules. Basically we just “chucked” them at each other!
In the East End of London, we called it Conkers too. Conkers were the fruit of the Horse Chestnut tree came out in the fall. We’d throw branches into the trees to get them to drop. They were green prickly things, which when you opened up you’d find a big brown acorn type of nut. You’d skew a hole through the center and tie a knot to create the conker on a string. We’d have battles with our conkers. You’d go to school with them and play in the playground. One guy would hold his conker up and the other guy would whip his over and try to break the oppnent’s. Whoever’s conker lasted was the winner. Everybody had different ways to make their conkers stronger. Some people would soak their’s in vinegar, others would bake them in an oven. If you had a really good one you’d give it a name to reresent each of it’s victories. (this is a sixer – meaning it had defeated 6 other conkers – this is a twelver – it had beaten twelve).
In Montreal, we used to call the game, Conkers, which I now realize must be slang for Conquerors. There were very few chestnut trees in our area and, one poor unfortunate soul on Cote St. Antoine Road, had the one tree that all the kids knew about. The day that I decided to seek out a supply of chestnuts, the owner happened to be home and rushed out with his black book. He told us that we had to give him our names and if he ever caught us again, he would report us to the police. Ten-year old that I was, I gave him all my information and left without any chestnuts. Of course, I never went back for fear of being reported to the police. I wonder where that book is now. It might be fun to see all the names. I never knew about the nail polish trick. Wow! That’s like steroids for chestnuts. …
mconroy you brought back memories. Had many a chestnut fight and killers that were about a third of a chestnut dangling. Had a tree in St Francis church grounds (Maple & Nostrand) where we would scale the fence and get our chestnuts. It was great
MConroy … That’s hilarious!