I just found this site and it’s great.We played skully for hours on end on 189th St.in Manhattan.In between,we’d play stickball,off the point(curbball)or Johnny ride the pony.Also,I noticed someone mentioned “slugs”.We called this “Chinese” which I found out was short for Chinese handball.How about that,a bottlecap,a broomstick,and a “spaldeen” was all the equipment we needed for fun from March to November.Who needs Playstation?
We played a LOT of Chinese handball on my block in Astoria, primarily without boxes even though the sidewalks had them. When we were younger we played the AKQ version but than got more athletic and adventurous. A distinguishing rule on our block was that as long as the ball hit the wall in-bounds it could hit the ground on its way back to the next player OUT-of-bounds, which meant the winning strategy was to get up as close to the wall as you could on an offensive play and slam it as hard as you could at a sharp angle just in-bounds. The successful result was a ball that ran great distances unimpeded down the sidewalk for retrieval until it would go under a car, or in one direction on into traffic. The other blocks where I’d occasion to play in Astoria or nearby Jackson Heights also played this game in various forms and my observation was that the guys on my block were consistently better players down the line than other blocks we’d visit as it was the ONLY game we played. Not having a convenient schoolyard or park we didn’t play much stickball, though we did when we got a little older throw some touch fotball and eventually softball in nearby yards. For many years though Chinese was pretty much all we played. I taught the game to a guy in Texas a few years back in the university gym. He was a competitive tennis player and really liked it. I’ve had a standing bet with my oldest friend that I can spot him 19 points in a 21-point game one-on-one. He still declines and I still keep offering though we’re both currently 48 years old.
We used to play Chinese handball waiting for the school bus in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Actually it was all the time, just give us a wall and a spaldeen, whether it was at the cement wall at ps 200 playground, or mark twain or the side of the building building near cropsey and 20th avenue. Ace, king, queen, jack, ten , nine…..
Any self respecting kid that grew up in the 50-60s in St.Albans, Queens and went to PS 118 knows that Pensie-Pinkies rule. Its called pensie-pinkie because it had a keystone stamped on the pink ball. The state symbol for Pensylvania is the keystone. The nick name for Pensylvania is the “Keystone state”-hence Pensie short for Pensylvania. I found this site looking for Skelly/Scully rules. Great site. I played all the usual street games including stoop ball, chinese handball, stickball etc. A kid couldn’t live without a Pensie. ANYONE HEAR OF RUNNING BASES??? Two “basemen” on either side of the street and a bunch of kids in the middle. The object was to tag the kids out as they ran back and forth between the two bases. It was like a run down in baseball. One of the few co-ed games at the time. Girls were so icky back then. This site brought back many wonderful memories.
in response to the hin-do quesstion:we always said it stood for hindering or blocking out the other player. we always called a redo. also i’m going to give my vote to the pense pinkie. either ball was okay but the pinkies lasted longer as long as they stayed off the roof. does anyone remember chinese handball? you bounced the ball on the sidewalk before it hit the wall. and if you were the cause of play stopping you were sent down the end of the line.
Growing up on the same Bronx block for 21 years, we called the game “slugs” although i do recall the other names (ace, king, queen and chinese handball). It was one of the most popular games on the block. As a kid, I’d watch the older guys play with awe and once I started playing, i loved it. Expecially after learning to “cut” the ball, which would fool the hell out of an opponent, unless he had a nastier cut than you. Then there were all the other “rules” we’d throw in like “waterfalls”, “baby waterfalls”, “hindus”, etc. I’m just mad that I can’t remember what all of these mean or how they were used in the game! I remember how the whole neighborhood would get into the game and we’d play for hours, with sometimes 8-10 players at a time. Then it was on to skelsies, johnny on the pony, or ringolevio. Ah, the good ole days.
Yeah, we called it Chinese Handball and usually played for asses up. With our hard throwers, losing was equal to having a red ass for hours. One kept throwing until he missed. We played at the courtyard at 3200 Broadway in Manhattan. What made the game even more of a challenge was that we had a back wall to contend with. From front to back it was about 10-12 feet. A really good player could “cut” the ball and make it take a crazy first bounce only 6 inches from either the front or back wall. There were lots of scraped knuckles. “Knucles”, that’s another game.
I played for hours on the corner of 85th St and 21st Ave in Brooklyn, with the rumble of the B train as background music. We had our court on the sidewalk, because there was just too much traffic from 86th Street… there was no way to play a game on the asphalt. We played 13-box, in two versions. If there were a lot of players it was 1-13, for a more leisurely game it was 1-13,13-1 before you could start knocking other players out of the game. In the dark ages before twist off caps, the most prized cap was one with only a slight indentation from a bottle opener. We would rub the caps back and forth, back and forth on the sidewalk to get a smooth silver matte look on the bottom. Pop in a penny over the cork, and melt a candle (“wasting” a crayon that way would have made my mother berserk, “Whaddya think, we get them free from somewhere?”). When the wax was just about firm, if you pulled a piece of paper towel over the cap it put a pattern in the top of the wax. With box ball, tops, yo-yo, skelly, and chinese handball, who needed camp?
I grew up in the Alfred E. Smith Projects (Catherine and Madison Street intersection) across from P.S. 1. Lived there from 1953-1967 when my family moved to Brooklyn. I remember the Essex Street Markets as well as the “pickle man” on Essex Street. If none of you have not seen it, I highly recommend you watching “Crossing Delancey” starring Amy Irving. It was filmed on location! Shows the handball courts on Essex Street and centers around Amy’s character and the pickle man! Used to go with my mom to the Fulton Fish Market (still remember seeing the dead fish staring at me on the ice there! Later on, we bought fish at a market on Monroe Street. The only supermarket in the area was an A&P that was on Market Street and almost directly under the Manhattan Bridge. I played little league ball at Coleman’s Oval near the Manhattan Bridge (off Cherry Street). Played a lot of stickball at Cherry Street Park, across the street from the then Journal American building on one side and Knickerbocker Village on the other. The Journal American building is now the home to the NY Post. Remember the original hand warmers in the winter time? Right. A 15 cent knish off the knish cart! There was so much to do back there: San Gennaro festival on Mulberry Street, Chinese New Year on Mott Street, the Jewish Deli’s (Katz’s and Issac Gellis were my faves). I went to St. James School on St. James Place. That is the same school that Alfred E. Smith went to. It is also the parish that lays claim to the first American order of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Played lots of chinese handball on St. James Place, on the outside wall of Vanella Funeral Home of all places! Played stickball, slap ball, punchball, stoop ball, all with the Spaldeen. Much prefered that over the Pensie Pinky. I can still hear the echoes of “chips on the ball, 25 cents” before playing a game of ball. Anyone here remember making the chalk socks? You take about 5 big sidewalk chalks put them inside a sock, smash them a bit, tie the sock up and then sneak up on someone and bop them with the sock! It didn’t really hurt but was kind of funny to see the shocked face and the chalk smoke linger a moment in the air over the unsuspecting victim! In my neighborhood we called them Mama Lucci’s. Maybe it was called that because I lived so close to Little Italy. Anyone here remember “salugee”? This was a spontaneous devilish game where you would take a personal item from someone and then keep it from them as you threw it to your friends (keep away). After a while some wise guy would start daring you to “roof it” and you would throw the object towards the roof of the many cold water flats of the area. What rotten kids! I have been contemplating writing a book about growing up in NYC in that time period, illustrating the various street games, rituals, etc. that made that little part of NY so special. If anyone would like to contact me. Bill