I was a mix of Tomboy and girlie, I loved basketball, went shoeshining with my cousin. played Scully’s, cracktop, baseball , you name it ,but at the same time i loved my dolls, and i loved boys and had a lot of boyfriends. I was a lil bit of cagney and a lil of lacey. I never outgrew doing the guys stuff I love homedepot and i love refurnishing stuff i find in fleamarkets and then selling them. But growing up i guess being a tomboy kept me out of trouble.
Hey, Loved playing Cracktop as a kid growing up in the Ravenswood projects on 21 st. and 35 ave. in Astoria It involved the use of small wooden tops. We would get in a circle and spin all of our tops at the same time. The first top to come to a stop on it’s side was the top that was put in the middle of our circle. Then each of us in turn would try to “Crack” the top in the middle by hitting it with our top as hard as we could as we threw it to spin it. If you hit the top in the middle on your throw and your top kept spinning, you were good till next turn. If you hit the top or missed and your top did not spin, it was your turn in the middle. But if you missed the top in the middle, as your top was spinning you could pick it up in the palm of your hand ( the top had to remain spinning all the while ) and drop it on the top in the middle, if yours kept spinning after that, you were good to go. We had hours of fun playing this game and we became quite adept at hitting and even Cracking the tops in the middle. We would show off the Paint of other tops that would rub off on ours after hitting them. We also had a name for hitting the top in the middle. I have no freakin idea where it came from, but we called it a ” Kosky ” LOL I have no clue what that means, but when we hit the top in the middle it was called a Kosky! Hope this brings back some good memories, it does for me.
THE WAY WE PLAYED IN THE FORT GREENE PROJECTS WAS THAT EVERYONE WOULD SPIN THEIR TOPS AT THE SAME TIME. THE FIRST TOP TO DIE WOULD THEN BE PUT IN THE POT AS WE CALLED IT. THEN EVERYONE WOULD TRIED TO CRACK THE GUYS TOP. IF YOU HIT THE TOP AND IT DIDNT SPIN THAT WAS OK OR YOU COULD SPIN THE TOP PICK IT UP AND EITHER LIGHTLY TOUCH THE GUYS TOP OR IF HE WAS A FRIEND YOU COULD KNOCK HIM OUT OF THE POT. AND IF YOU SCREWED UP THE SPIN, SAY THE STRING OF THE TOP GOT TANGLED OR IF WHEN YOU TRIED TO HIT THE GUYS TOP AND YOUR TOP WENT FLYING SOMEWHERE AND MISSED THE TOP. YOUR TOP WENT INTO THE POT WITH THE OTHER GUYS. SO UNTIL THEY KNOCKED YOU OUT OF THE POT, YOU WERE THERE TO STAY. ESPECIALLY IF THEY COULD STAND YOUR GUTS. I LOVED THIS GAME.
It’s nice to know there is this comraderie of being brought up in Da Bronx. My story might sound a little different. I grew up in the Classon Point area which is a several miles West and South of Castle Hill. There were no number named streets just Randall,Soundview,Beach,Commonwealth,and along with playing ringoleaveo,cracktop,skully,touch football,johnny on the pony,schoolyard basketball, I remember going to Worlds fair and “Freedomland” which was bigger than Disneyland and is now where co-op city is. I also remember going fishing for porgies,fluke,flounder,eels,blackfish,bluefish, stripers and went crabbing during the winter in the Bronx and East Rivers. We would throw them back and keep only the fish(Stripers) we caught further east on the sound.(I don’t know if any of this wildlife is there today.) We hunted pheasants with a bow and arrow(probably illegal) in the many open areas that were still wild in this area in the late fifties and early sixties. My neighbors were the best and consisted of the Archettis’LoContes’,Diazs’,Gorshoffs’Hodges’,Freemans’ to name a few and they were of Italian,Black,Puerto Rican,Irish, Columbian,Jewish, German heritages,a beautiful mix and everybody new each other and their kids. My mom would speak Spanish to our Italian speaking neighbor and they would understand each other. This is a part of the Bronx that had “Shorehaven”,Harding Park,Seven caves,Rubys, Genes’,Classon point yacht club, and the Beach Theater. Our wood frame houses on St. Lawrence ave. were in the area of several projects and one of the oldest sections in the area going back to farming days in the Bronx. We were right across the East River from Shea stadium and from my roof I could see the lights of the stadium as well as the Empire state building and the Twin towers when they were being built. I went to P.S. “69” which is built like a World War II memorial with gorgoyle heads of soldiers looking down at you. The school had painted over asphalt floors in the stairwells and ground floor that had years of high heel marks in them. It had a schoolyard perfect for pitch count stickball played with a chalked in strike zone against a wall. Can’t question a strike when the spaldeen has chalk on it!!
Yes Rich- I’m from the Soundview/Classon Point area of the Bronx and we played “cracktop” the same as “costy”. The intent was not only to get other colors on your wooden top but to crack the other tops. I can see why “costy” would be a name for this, a walk to the store for another 15(small) or 25(large)cent top was part of the game. They gave you a string with a wooden button along with the top but we usually tied a sliding knot loop onto the finger. We could really whip those tops!! This game was as cool as it gets!!
Have neither played nor spoken about cracktop in over thirty years, but if memory serves… Play commences with each player throwing (spinning) his top at the same time. First guy whose top stops spinning is ‘it’. His top sits on its side as the target. In turns, the other players throw their tops (with a fearsome and perhaps sadistic intent) in an attempt to score a direct hit.* If you had a direct hit, your turn was over and you were saved the indignity of replacing the guy who was ‘it.’ If you missed, you advanced to a secondary stage of silliness which incorporated endless opportunities for arguments, disputes, and general verbal fencing: you had to bring your top into contact with the target top before your top stopped spinning — preferred and most reliable method was to hold your string taut, straddle the spinning top, and drag it into contact with the target by pulling the string along the spinning point. (Many of the low guys in the pecking order would be exposed for a kick in the pants while performing this ungraceful maneuver). A far more accomplished and enviable technique (but naturally more difficult and risky) was to scoop your spinning top onto your palm, carrying it (it must continue to spin all the while) to a point above the target, and dropping it onto the target. The clumsy guys would become ridiculous when attempting this one, and could easily be goaded into trying something which would assure them a turn as target. The game was everything a good street game should be: skill was evident, the uninitiated were pitiful, and there was a thinly veiled aroma of violence about the whole affair (anyone remember absurd “knucks” sessions with playing cards?) *footnote from above: hilariously unlikely folklore of some kid on another block or another neighborhood or another planet shattering a top into flying splinters. We would spend more time relating and believing such crap than actually playing the game!