I remember growing up in the Fort Greene projects. I was born 1953, had two older sisters, so I grew up knowing oldies but goodies. In fact, so much that I today sing with an acapella group, The Valentinos. I remember how beautiful Fort Greene was in those days. There were all races and all lived in harmony. I am Puerto Rican, but I grew up with White, Black, Korean, Jewish… it didn’t matter. We were kids and just wanted to have fun. I was born in Cumberland Hospital, lived in 24 Monument Walk and went to PS67. I remember we would be playing all day in Fort Greene and just around my building, they used to have sort of a playground. The kids I hung out with were always older than me I guess because my sisters had no choice and their friends had no choice too. They had to take care of their brothers or sisters. So we also played together. We played so many games in one day from morning till sometimes 1:00 in the morning because in those days the parents would go outside and sit on the benches to talk so we kept playing. The girls sometimes played jump rope, hopscotch, box ball, then we would get tired of that and start playing tag on the monkey bars. Sometimes the guys would join in and, in no time, there would be about ten or more playing tag. Then we would play either punch ball or, “Three Feet Off To Germany.” We also had sort of a small maze (we called it the puzzle) about 3 1/2 feet high and you could stand on this, or walk though it. We also used to play tag on the top and everyone would be on top running from the guy who was “it.” Sometimes we broke our butts because either you went too fast when they were chasing you–you know how guys are, tough and rough. Between the puzzle to the right was this big sort of thing, what we called “the barrel.” It was shaped like a barrel and it was hollow, and sometimes we would get inside–maybe four to five, or as many as we could fit. And then we would have one person–or two at the most–on the top and they would try to tap anyone who tried to get out or in. If you were tagged, you would have to go on top and be it, and so on. As kids, we could go all day. To the left of the puzzle were some logs–oh, about four big log across, and on top were three and so on until there was one on top. Then right next to the logs were three sets of benches. So sometimes we would play tag on all of them. We would make one of the benches home base and another one sort of a holding cage where the others can free you. Sometimes the barrel and the logs would be home base with the puzzle in the middle. It started with one team being “it.” Then, if they got tagged by someone from the other team, they would get put into a holding cage and be guarded. Someone in your team would try to free you by tagging the cage. The rules were: you can only use the barrel which was home base, step to the puzzle (where you better run through and not get caught), to logs which was another home base. Oh… you could only use three steps in either direction, except the puzzle. And oh… over the fence which the guys used a lot was the running area. That was a great game. Also in that area was another object we called the boat. It was long with an opening and, on both the pointed area of the boat and the wide part, were seats. All these objects were made of concrete and painted in colors. Sometimes the guys would sit in there and start singing. And we would all sit on the edges of the boat. It was great. I remember too, some long logs were about 20 feet and at one end it started from the floor and got higher until you could walk it straight and then at the other end it went down again. We use to walk that or play tag on it without falling. Come to think of it, man, we played a lot of diffent tag games. We also played ringoleavio, that was an all day game. And we would have maybe 20 to 40 of us playing and the rule was, “use all of Fort Greene.” Fort Greene had three parts to it, so you could spend all day looking to find someone. If I go on I’ll be here all day. To make a long story short, we played handball, basketball, scullys, Johnny On The Pony, stickball, skating (when they put tar in the play areas). It was great. Great. I wish every kid in the world could have my childhood.
I was raised in Red Hook projects in Brooklyn.After graduating High School I went into the Army and now live in topeka kansas.I miss the days of playing skellys in the hood.My friends and I used to play for hours.Mind you this was in the 70’s and 80’s when kids used to play Tag, Hot peas & butter, Red light Green Light, Come & get it (witch we should have not been playing with the girls at our young age). We always thought milk caps off gallon jugs filled with wax or clay made the best tops.Though Kansas is behind the times,I don’t see that many children playing childhood games.But I can tell you, my son will know how to play skellys and pass it on. P.S. Don’t ever forget 9/11 God bless.
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!!
I grew up in the Alfred E. Smith Projects (Catherine and Madison Street intersection) across from P.S. 1. Lived there from 1953-1967 when my family moved to Brooklyn. I remember the Essex Street Markets as well as the “pickle man” on Essex Street. If none of you have not seen it, I highly recommend you watching “Crossing Delancey” starring Amy Irving. It was filmed on location! Shows the handball courts on Essex Street and centers around Amy’s character and the pickle man! Used to go with my mom to the Fulton Fish Market (still remember seeing the dead fish staring at me on the ice there! Later on, we bought fish at a market on Monroe Street. The only supermarket in the area was an A&P that was on Market Street and almost directly under the Manhattan Bridge. I played little league ball at Coleman’s Oval near the Manhattan Bridge (off Cherry Street). Played a lot of stickball at Cherry Street Park, across the street from the then Journal American building on one side and Knickerbocker Village on the other. The Journal American building is now the home to the NY Post. Remember the original hand warmers in the winter time? Right. A 15 cent knish off the knish cart! There was so much to do back there: San Gennaro festival on Mulberry Street, Chinese New Year on Mott Street, the Jewish Deli’s (Katz’s and Issac Gellis were my faves). I went to St. James School on St. James Place. That is the same school that Alfred E. Smith went to. It is also the parish that lays claim to the first American order of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Played lots of chinese handball on St. James Place, on the outside wall of Vanella Funeral Home of all places! Played stickball, slap ball, punchball, stoop ball, all with the Spaldeen. Much prefered that over the Pensie Pinky. I can still hear the echoes of “chips on the ball, 25 cents” before playing a game of ball. Anyone here remember making the chalk socks? You take about 5 big sidewalk chalks put them inside a sock, smash them a bit, tie the sock up and then sneak up on someone and bop them with the sock! It didn’t really hurt but was kind of funny to see the shocked face and the chalk smoke linger a moment in the air over the unsuspecting victim! In my neighborhood we called them Mama Lucci’s. Maybe it was called that because I lived so close to Little Italy. Anyone here remember “salugee”? This was a spontaneous devilish game where you would take a personal item from someone and then keep it from them as you threw it to your friends (keep away). After a while some wise guy would start daring you to “roof it” and you would throw the object towards the roof of the many cold water flats of the area. What rotten kids! I have been contemplating writing a book about growing up in NYC in that time period, illustrating the various street games, rituals, etc. that made that little part of NY so special. If anyone would like to contact me. Bill
My brother and I earned our Skelly stripes in the Redhook Projects, Brooklyn, NY (1970’s). Anyone out there from Redhook that remembers Mrs. Bernice Hawkins (My Grandmother)….she’s solely responsible for my Skelly career. Her motto…”If you’re going outside, then Stay outside…no In’s and Out’s”. So, needless to say, we stayed outside all day, playing Skelly. My “top” of choice was that white metal top that came off juice bottles. My brother and I would go find all the candles in my grandmother’s house and melt wax into the top, with a penny in the middle of it for extra weight. If we ran out, we would go to the spanish store on the corner and get a candle for a nickel. I’m a father of three kids now, and I’m definitely going to teach them all about Skelly. Actually, I live in Maryland now, so it will be new to most kids and adults alike. I’m glad that I stumbled onto this site!
As a former brooklynite I remember many days playing skelly in the Marlboro housing projects in Gravesend. It’s kinda sad that kids today don’t play the games we used to play and and I’m 30 years old . I mean games like tag , off the wall, stoop ball, asses up, manhunt etc. They mostly are locked in front of the TV . I would like to know the size of the skelly board. I can’t remember and besides every building had a skelly board spray painted nearby , thanks to the ” big kids “. I don’t recall ” out of town “in skelly. What is it ?
Wow this brings back memories. In the 60s I lived in the Pink Houses projects off of Linden Blvd & Crescent St.My building was on Stanley Ave. I remember using chalk to make a Skully Court in the playground. I also remember the smell of melting crayons. I would put crayons in a baby food jar ( it could take the heat) and hold it over the stove to melt the wax. I loved filling bottle caps for Skully. I remember the pride we had in our wax filled caps. Sort of like a badge of honor. I can still smell the melting wax right now! This is a great walk down memory lane. Doubt that anyone in Tampa (home) would know what Skully is.
if anyone out there played the way we did in the projects you would know the pensie pinky was the rich mans ball. I would save for that ball and wait for the sunday morning game to break out that baby. The first three or four batters would have the opportunity to knock that baby senseless. There was nothing like the feeling of a long fly ball coming off your bat from a fresh pensie pinky. Loved that ball.
I moved to Da Bronx in May of 1960 to get away from crime. I originally lived in Mount Vernon. I lived on Pelham Parkway North and the Allerton Avenue area. I hung out with friends from school on Cruger, Holland, Wallace, and the Parkside area. There were the projects, apt. buildings, and all the way up to Eastchester Road and Allerton Avenue. My parents didnot worry about me getting hurt or anything happening to me in those days. I remember the Mr. Softee trucks selling ice cream cones for a dime, one candy store that had ice cream pops for a nickel, spalding balls for .19, and also John’s Bargain store on Lydig avenue. We sometimes bought generic spauldings for 7 cents there ! Those were the good old days ! I still live in the area and what changes I have seen over the years and it’s not for the better.
Isn,t this a kick! We are one nostalgic family.I,m crusing for old friends and look what I find? My mom and then my brother. This is no fun,I just called you both. And Tony don,t get on mom what are you doing home… Anyone else out there familiar with Ollinville & Arnow circa 50s thru 80s league football, two hand touch in the street, BASKETBALL Saturday morning at Parkside or winter nights at Fordham college, and of course GIRLS… Clubs,in early 60s was the Monterey Club up by Edenwald Projects, then the Riviera lounge I believe in Yonkers, and by the late 60s it was Maxims on Jerome Ave. Lets hear it from the dancers!!