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!
Growing up in “The Projecks” as pronounced it, the best ball for playing stoop was the Pensie-Pinkie. I’ve heard people say that these were great for punch ball also but they were harder and tougher on the knuckles. There was no feeling – or sound – like hitting a Pinkie off the “sweet spot” the protective metal on a housing project stoop.
NorthEast Philly and Feltonville in the late 40s and 50s. Step(stoop) ball, curb ball, wall ball, wire ball were all the best games. Many of the row houses had alleys between them, so you got points by the times you hit both walls. Only had smooth Pennsie Pink and white-pimple balls, and each had it purpose. Loved the smell of the new ball. Charlie, Mike, Leroy, Bobby all great street ballers. Richie was a big kid that usually won, and beat you up if he didn’t. Nancy was as tough as Richie and she beat us up too, but nobody cared. LOL
Grew up in ENY Brooklyn in the 60s … Pensie Pinkies were better for the games girls played like “A My Name is Anna …” and “Composition Letter A, May I repeat the Letter A” (does anyone remember these games by the way!) And if you were a beginner in Handball, the Spalding was a much faster ball …
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.
I grew up in the Bronx from 1950-1964. For some reasons I thought if you couldn’t afford a Spaldeen you got a Pencie Pinkies. Remember you used to call out a word (maybe tibs) if the ball was yours and it got lost, over a roof or in the sewer, they had to buy you a new one. What a blast those times were. I loved growing up in the Bronx. I lived on Noble Avenue from 1950-1960 and then the Castle Hill Projects from 60-64. On Noble Avenue we had a stoop and we would play stoopball and all the other games you guys mentioned. All great memories.
Going on a treasure hunt (walk fingers up back) X marks the spot (draw X on back) Big circle (draw big circle on back) Little circle (draw smaller circle inside the first) Dot, dot, dot (tap back with each “dot”) Crack an egg on your head (put your left fist, pinky down, on their head then gently tap your left fist with your right fist and let your left flatten out on their head) Let the yolk run down (let hands slide down their head to their shoulders) Stick a knife in your back (thump them fairly hard in the middle of the back with your right fist, pinky down) Let the blood run down (slide hands down back with fingers open) Spiders crawling in your hair (crawl fingers quickly up back to the hair at the top of their neck) Snakes are sliding down your back (slither fingers down back) Cool breeze (blow on neck) Tight squeeze (pinch neck or squeeze shoulders) [Optional] Can’t catch me! (sharp slap on the back of the neck and run away)
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?