My aunt lived at 501 West179th. We used to walk there (my grandmother, cousins, from West 65 Street. Then they’d all walk us across the George Washington Bridge. I remember Highbridge pool, the great movies on St. Nicholas Avenue. It was a beautiful area. This was in the late 1040s and early 1950s. I haven’t been there in many years.
In Washington Heights we used the Spaldeens… don’t remember the pinkys which, based on the discussion here, sound like basically the same sort of ball. We did have a Pink ball that was made of a different material than the spaldeen… it was a foam rubber ball… heavier, lots of bounce, but the grip of the soft rubber foam on the ground made it have “unpredictable” bouncing behaviors. We didn’t use those much, I don’t think, we used the spaldeens. Anyone else remember the Pink foam rubber balls I am refering to?
In Washington Heights (Dyckman area) we called it “Manhunt”. But it was basically the same game, with one team chasing the other and placing them in “base”. We did not allow running into basements, buildings or passing the corners on either side of the block. There was always someone guarding the base. I remember running with a car (running alongside of it as low as possible) and then pouncing on the base and saving as many of my teammates as possible. Also for a period of time we could kick the lamppost on our block and the lights would go off and the other team couldn’t see what was going on for about 8-9 minutes. Those were the days (late 80’s). We usually played during the summertime and usually till about 11:30 pm (never during the day either! Too hot!)and then just lay on top of a car and talk the night away.
I’m 25 years old from Washington Heights. But, while my friends and I were growing up we played Chinese handball (we have actually passed it down to the younger kids that are currently growing up). We had various forms of the game where the “Ace” could decide what the rules of the game were going to be. Usually when the best players were around we played “killer serve” (where you could serve as you pleased as long as you didn’t pass the first block of cement and the last block of cement), with stealing (you couldn’t step into another player’s box) and hitting the ball three times (if you wanted to).
I grew up on 173 St & St. Nick. in Washington Heights back in the early sixties. Bottle caps with the melted crayons were cool, but for maximum speed and ease of shooting we used to rub the very top of the old glass soda bottles over the sewer covers until they broke off. Of coarse sooner or later someone would hit you hard enough to break it, but those old time bottles were pretty thick! Man this stuff sure brings back the memories!!!