For me the Bronx of 1953-1959 in the Throggs Neck Housing Project was also an innocent paradise. Our apartment building had whites, blacks, Hispanics, and everyone got along GREAT. If there were racial problems, we kids were blissfully unaware of them then. We were neighbors. It was OUR neighborhood. We took care of it… I was dragged kicking and screaming away from that HOME in 1959, at age 12, by parents looking for “The American Dream”: A chicken in every pot, two cars in every garage, 2.2 kids, and, most of all: A home of your own in the suburbs… When they told me we were moving I wanted to run away from home instead. 🙁 Nassau county LI was already $$$ out of reach, so we went to Suffolk county. A place called Deer Park which, for all I knew, still had Indians lurking in the woods! Who was I going to play stick-ball with? Or ringalievo? How could I leave the only life I’d ever known? I think that’s what we miss most, the carefree innocence of a youth in a different world, with friends that stuck by you cause you all “BELONGED”. I suppose in the long run, it was beneficial to the family to move, but I wish I could have stayed in the Bronx a few more years…
I used to play Skully all the time, growing up in Corona, NY. I am trying to collect enough information about the game to now teach my kids how to play and even create a permanent Skully board in my suburban driveway. It was always a city game. I loved the game and intend to keep it alive by passing it on to the next generation.
Here I am, Age 38, born and raised in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, only girl on the block–Still have my skate key–it’s on the same key ring with my Suburban keys. One of my fondest memories, my Dad taking me to Triangle on 5th Ave & 83rd Street for a pair of Chicago Rollers Shoe Skates–black, of course. Mom was pissed, so was my brother. But I played a mean roller derby. Hockey was my forte’. Now, had a great pair of roller blades, 11 year old son trashed them. Now, I am the Mom, and I am pissed.
Sittin on stoop was a fine pasttime. Living in a northern Virginia suburban townhouse today, I occasionaly sit outside on the front stairs (stoop) and take in the view. My wife, who grew up in the South, often remarks that I am the only person in the entire townhouse development who sits out front. Old habits die hard.
Grown men and women wept. Children were amazed. About seven years ago, I was a Cub Scout Den Leader, and seeking something dangerous to do with the guys, I had them fill a supply of beer caps with candle wax, colored with a few drops of Crayola (not including “flesh”). I didn’t tell them why. They didn’t care, ’cause it was fun burning eachother with the wax. The following week, I drew a board in my suburban driveway, and introduced the game to the group. The next step was to set up a demo for the whole Cub Pack, but since the meetings were indoors at night, I had the boys make a board on a 4’x4′ piece of masonite, using black paint & stencils for the boxes & numbers. We took the board to the next Pack meeting. The results were as stated at the top. I even brought the board to a company picnic. Imagine Skully & grass coexisting! Best of both worlds.
Most people don’t realize that all the pigeons in New York City are feral (gone wild) descendants of domesticated pigeons kept on the rooftops as pets, for sport, for show and for food earlier in the century. (Pigeons of the type we know are not native to the U.S.) When you see a flock of wild pigeons spontaneously leap into the air and fly around in circles in a tight group, you are seeing the behavior their ancestors were bred to perform by rooftop pigeon fanciers. The breeders selectively intensified the natural behavior of the birds to fly out from the nest, forage for food, and return to the nest, resulting in specialized strains that can find their home lofts from long distances, covering 500 miles a day (homers), birds that can fly above their loft in circles continuously for 15-20 hours (tipplers, or as they are called only in New York, “tiplets”), aerial acrobats that spin backwards in a series of multiple somersaults (rollers), as well as the garden variety of New York flyers that circle above their rooftops in tight groups, trying to get the neighbor’s birds to defect to them. As a resident of suburban Bayside, Queens in the ’60’s and ’70’s, I kept pigeons, which I was first exposed to by “urban flight” neighbors, who came out of the inner boroughs, bringing their tradition of rooftop pigeon keeping with them. Pigeons, of course, are much maligned, especially for their dirtiness. All I can say is that domesticated pigeons, when fed dry grain and clean water, are clean animals. If you put a pan of water out on a sunny day they will even take a bath. It’s like the difference between an observer’s perception of a homeless person and one who has shelter, clean clothes, and eats good food. My Web site about Bayside in those times is: http://www.covername.net/bayside Dave T.
I’m 34 YO and grew up in a suburb of West Philly playing three kinds of stick-ball. One-bounce stick-ball had two or three outs an inning and you got either one strike or two fouls. Fastball involved pitching into a box painted on a wall and has three strikes and four ball walks. Half-ball involved cutting a tennis ball or pimple ball in half and playing by fast ball rules, with no walks. All hits were automatics with telephone poles or manholes determining the bases.
Mick & Pez, You guys have done a service for mankind (at least for Brooklynkind) with this website. I left Brooklyn (Bath Beach/Bensonhurst) almost 55 years ago and I still remember the joys of stickball, punchball, handball, Chinese handball, boxball, Chinese boxball, skully, land, ring-a-levio, three feet off to Germany, odds & evens, knucks, etc. I tried to pass some of these on to my son, but things are just not the same in the suburbs of Cleveland.
I grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. There were lots of kids hanging out, as we’d all get kicked out of the house all day. We’d usually play baseball all day in the brief summers, but the rest of the year offered other playtime activities. In the winter could have as many as 30 kids in a giant snowball fight. We’d be running from one block to the other, and build big snowball forts and you’d try to capture from the other gang. There were always these forts in different stagers of repair When we were young teenagers, 13-15, during the warmer weather, we could steal lumber from these new housing construction sites and build tree houses. Sometimes there would be 10 kids involved (there’s nothing you couldn’t do with a critical mass of kids). We would get these big sheets of plywood and cut them around the branches, creating these elaborate multi-storied houses. We wouldn’t have ‘official clubs” and didn’t really hang out as much as just build the things. Still no girls were allowed. The houses would last a couple of years although they might get taken over by gangs from another neighborhood or vandalized by kids who might be mad at you. One time a contractor who got mad at us for stealing the wood sent a bulldozer over. They wrapped a big chain around the house and pulled it right our of the tree. This was the biggest one we had ever created literally 5 stories high, skewed all around the tree to fit in. That house was the culmination of our architectural endeavors. When it was pulled down, we were ready to move on.
We had a creek at the end of our yard, beyond it was farmland. We’d go down and try to follow it and downstream to see where it went. We’d always be building dams trying to stop it or flood some area. When it rained, the creek would come up the yard. Then we’d have a little lake that we could wade in with our boots and our bathing suits.