On Grand Ave. in Da Bronx, we called it Skully, though the variants mentioned here weren’t uncommon. Our game-play equipment evolved over the years like one of those “tools made by man through the ages” charts you’d see in your 4th grade history, I mean, social studies textbook. At first we used the bottlecap, specifically from beer bottles (the twist-off variety, which didn’t get dented by a bottle opener upon removal). Lots of glide, but very light, blastable, and didn’t hold up great under car tires. We found that new bottlecaps had new paint on them, and they glided better. We then filled bottlecaps with wax, usually from a crayon. They were still fragile, but still glided well even with the additional weight. A weighted cap was good for blasting an unweighted cap, but when everyone’s cap was weighted, it didn’t much matter (physics and all). Since some labor went into putting wax in a cap, we began to scratch an “x” underneath the cap, using the cap itself, and then picked it up from the street if a car was coming so it wouldn’t get damaged. This is akin to what golfers do on the green; I think we invented the technique and the PGA picked it up. The next step in skully cap evolution was the “push-up ice cream pusher.” Back in the day, Good Humor sold ice cream in a cardboard tube called a “Push Up” (I think). The plastic thing that pushed the ice cream made an excellent skully cap (excellent glide), but it wore out quickly and was very fragile. Luckily, you could replace them by buying more ice cream. There were a spate of bizarre caps at this time of evolution (mayonnaise lids, Heinz catsup bottle caps) but one was notable: the glass cap. The glass cap was obtained from the ring atop the neck of a non-twist-off beer bottle. To get this cap involved much labor, as you would rub the top of the bottle repeatedly over the bumps of a manhole cover, hoping that the ring would crack off just right. It did about 10% of the time. This cap would glide like crazy, had no blasting power, and worked until it broke. Cars running over this cap didn’t much hurt it, but the final step in Skully Cap evolution did: the steel chair glider. The steel chair glider was found underneath your desk in school. You removed it using a bottle opener you sneaked into school. If you were smart, you’d liberate all four gliders so your chair wouldn’t rock. It was the perfect skully cap. Impenetrable to all elements, great glide, and blasting power. Some of these caps were big, some were small–if you were lucky, you had more than one size cap. I still have mine to this day! Let’s hear some more skully cap lore!
What I remember best about playing Skelly was the variety of pieces we’d use. Usually we’d use bottle tops from soda bottles. Of course this was before the twist-off tops so the trick was to get the top off the bottle without bending it. Sometimes we’d melt crayons into the bottle tops to give them weight – then we could blast the opponent’s top down the block. Sometimes we’d have an open game where you could use any type of top you wanted – large jar tops were particular favorites. These had to be big enough to maximize the chance of hitting your opponent, but not too big to fit into a destination box. The wickedest thing I remember was, when you landed in a box and your opponent was sitting on the box edge, you could put your top right up against his and kick then as far as you could. You got to go to the next box, but your opponent might need the rest of the day to get back on the court!