Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cultural games







In a recent email, a friend from Nanjing inquired "Did you ever play ping pong?" I felt as I had when a member of the Shandong University faculty inquired if I knew what Marxism was. Most assuredly, I played ping pong as a child, though it isn't America's quintessential game. The game I played most as a child we called Box Ball, though I've since heard it called "sidewalk tennis." Its rules were similar to ping pong. Box Ball was played on two squares of sidewalk, with the line between boxes taking the place of a net. We used high bouncing balls we called spaldines because they were ordered from Spaulding Sports. Brooklynites dropped final 'g.'


















"Hit the Penny" was also played on two squares of sidewalk We positioned ourselves at opposite squares and attempted to strike a penny placed on the line in between.










I have no idea if these games are still played in Brooklyn. Here in the Southern Mountains, no one has heard of them. It's obvious why-- except for downtown and the malls, we have very few sidewalks. These games were not played by kids I knew in Cincinnati, though there are plenty of sidewalks there.

Childhood games are determined by culture, but that has to be understood in a fairly broad sense. Region has as much to do with it as nationality.

5 comments:

quig said...

Hi Roz - Welcome back "china doll"... I lived in Detroit from 10 to 20.... we played something called curb ball or stair ball... practicing our fielding by throwing a ball at the curb or stairs and then catching it(or not)!!! We would gather at the playground and play football, baseball, wall ball... didn't need adults or orghanization..... great fun... it is lost today in the organized sprots and digital/video game world... somebody said, times they are a changing..

mac said...

No games to play--
Just a note to say,
Welcome home, Roz!

quig said...

how about a blog Roz - I hear you are going back to the bad lands.....

quig said...

Hey Roz - good to see you yesterday...

Roz said...

Hey Quig,

Which lands are the badlands? I think there's some bad, some good everyplace.

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...