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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Old Time Games Are Recalled

Dallas Bogan on 17 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
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Marbles, jacks and yo-yo's were the games of the writer's time. It now seems as though games are so abundant, one doesn't know which to buy his children or grandchildren.
One game I remember was "snipe hunting." I was never lured into this far-fetched hunt, but many were. Of course, everyone knows that to catch a snipe was to camp along a creek-bed or another similar location far into the night with open bag waiting for the other boys to drive the snipe up, in order that they could be afforded the privilege of flying into the sack.
"Leap-frog" was another game that required quite an artistic finesse. A good jumper would, with legs spread apart, skillfully leap over the body of a bent boy or girl. Agility, quickness and springiness would result in a successful jump.
Many remember the old town ball contests. The skills, talent and professionalism were not required as the modern day ball teams do.
There was no need for umpires or uniforms. A cry of "ball- game" would go out and many of the community would gather as either participant or spectator. A paddle was used for a bat and a rubber ball would be put into play.
It was not a pitcher's and catcher's game, but one in which all volunteers could participate. The ball would soar out over the field or would simply dribble to the opposing player.
"Bull in the pen" was another type of ball game that the old timers played. It was a revised edition of "soakabout." The victim in the pen would run the gauntlet between two rows of determined hard-throwers, who made the hard rubber ball crackle through the air. The fellow in the pen was kept busy dodging the missile, but the exercise he received sometimes made up for the sting or the injury he encountered.
Marbles was the favorite game of our forefathers. The invention of this small rounded object should go down in history as one of stature, for it not only entertained the youngsters, it was a game of skill of championship quality.
Most mothers would not allow their boys to play cards; but the quantity of "commies" brought home at the end of the day proved to the moms that the youngn's were engaged in a positive venture.
Marbles for fun or marbles for keeps were the two separate games played. Marbles for keeps was far more popular. The boys who won and saved were much more competitive which in turn prepared them for a successful life.
One of the more daring games was to find an unsuspecting "greeny," blindfold him, and tie him securely to a door knob. With the scrambling and commotion made by the victim, and a knock on the door of the occupant, sometimes a sound thrashing would be in store for the innocent captive. The young scoundrels who instigated this were safely within hearing and seeing distance.
Another town game was "fox and hound." It was a night game that required three or more "foxes," and a large number of "hounds." The "foxes" carried tin horns, and by their blasts the "hounds' got the scent. The "foxes" were given the start of several squares, and at a signal from the horn, the chase began.
The hunt might last for several hours. The blast of the fox-horn could be heard all over town. It was a rare occasion that the "hounds" did not bring the "fox" to a stand.
A game that would bring an innocent family to pure chaos was one in which a nail was hung on a string and fastened to a window frame. The youngsters would stretch the line across the street and hide behind a tree or other surroundings, and with a small tug on the string create a "tick-tack" on the window. The family would scurry about in a frantic manner until the prank was discovered.
Many of the old-timers carried their "stogies" in their old plug hats. Another somewhat mischievous act was to stretch a cord across the sidewalk, head high, and with a yank of the cord, tumble the hat and cigars onto the walk. (This act was done at night, of course.)
The man was only too glad to get his hat back. After he was safely out of sight, the boys would gather their treasure.
All of the foregoing was done in another time. But if one were to think about their own childhood, memories of games and mischievousness would fill this column to no end.

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This page created 17 August 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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