Professionals are called “speliologists.” Amateur enthusiasts are called “spelunkers.” Bored high school kids from Pennsylvania are called “cavers.” I grew up in the part of Pennsylvania that sits on top of limestone caves. My friends and I would go exploring the caverns between Kutztown and Reading. Never mind what went on down there. Suffice to say, whatever county police department had jurisdiction above us, no law enforcement official ever got his uniform dirty following us down our hobbit holes. You had to wear old clothes. Cave dirt cakes on and doesn’t come out. We’d bring down flashlights and candles, tunes (cassettes, or course, as CDs hadn’t been invented, 8-tracks were so-last-year, and radio was obviously out), lunch, and whatever else we needed. The acoustics were perfect for Rush, Foghat or Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. There was a reputedly bottomless well of near-freezing spring water. I wouldn’t say we were environmentalists, but we did endeavor to leave the caves pretty much as we found them. There were some kids — from the colleges I think — who didn’t have the same level of respect. Graffiti, cigarette butts, garbage — OK, this doesn’t sound so terrible to anyone who grew up in the five boroughs, but out in America it was kind of disgraceful.
Hey Joel – is that you? I still remember standing in the playground outside of Building 18 in Rochdale, your pinky pointing at me and trembling, thinking you’ll finally win one of those thousands of bets we made. But, posting as “Anonymous” – I guess you’re still not sure, after all these years.
I remember playing this when I was a kid growing up in Baltimore in the early 80’s. I think we used to call it skellet(s)? I live in nowhere Pennsylvania now and no one here has ever heard of it. We used to melt wax in them also, and when it got really hot out we would scrape the soft tar off the street and put it in the cap for weight and cover it with the wax. I sucked at that damn game.
I, too, grew up in East New York in the 50s. And I certainly remember A my name is Alice…. I’m trying to teach it to my daughter but it just doesn’t work with the large beach balls. Where are those pinky balls anyway? Other girl games I remember involved jumping rope. I recall that I was VERY good at double dutch. It was alot of fun. Double dutch involved two girls at the opposite end of two jump ropes – one rope in each hand, each rope sort of crossing over each other. The jumper would have to start in one of the corners and jump really quickly over each rope as it landed and flew up off the ground. This is too difficult to explain but very easy to do. What great memories.
Growing up in the East New York section of Brooklyn in the ’50s and ’60s meant being out on the sidewalk after school and during the summer. One of the games that we girls played with a bouncing pink rubber ball; either a Spauldeen or Pensy Pinky, entailed crossing your leg over the ball as you “sang” verses that had changed names, places and products based on the letters of the alphabet. We started with: A my name is…….. And my husband’s name is……… We come from………… And we sell………… It went on as long as you didn’t miss crossing over the ball. We competed to see who could go through the whole alphabet with a mistake or repeating someone else’s choices. Lots of giggles accompanied this game as the choices narrowed and became more difficult. The letter “Q” was always a tough one. Ellen Grove
I’m like any other kid from Brooklyn and remember skelly very well. I remember the set up – a large square – usually a cement square on the sidewalk of our dreams – we’d chalk several small squares in each of the four corners, additional small squares on each of the four sides of the larger square. Then a smaller square in the center. We’d use bottle caps, and yes, sometimes we’d melt wax in them to give them extra weight. It brings back memories of my Brooklyn of the early 50’s on Pennsylvania and Belmont Avenues, before moving into the Boulevard Projects, where we’d also play the game. Do our children even understand the dynamics of the game?
Two players were separated by three squares of sidewalk pavement. One player ‘pitched’ the ball, a pinky, into the box closest to the other player. If the ball missed the box, it was a walk. If the ball landed in the box, the batter slapped the ball, trying to get it to land in the box closest to the pitcher. If he succeeded, each bounce of the ball was another base–one bounce, single, two bounces, double, etc. If the ball landed anywhere but in the box, or was caught on the fly, one out was recorded. The pitcher always attempted to ‘fluke’ the ball so the batter missed it.
two people were separated by four squares of sidewalk pavement. With a pinky, you had to bounce the ball in the boxes, without hitting the lines and without your opponent catching the ball before it bounced in the box closest to him. You had to bounce the ball in a progression, starting with the box closest to the opponent, then the two boxes closest, then three boxes, then all four boxes, with one bounce in each box only. It’s hard to explain, easier with a diagram.
We statred out using an old mop handle as our “stick,” but as we got older we would pool our money and go to the local lumber yard and buy a 32-34″ piece of closet pole and wrap the bottom with black sticky electric tape (before the pine tar era). We even graduated to an old beaten up tennis ball rather than a pinky.