Monday, January 14, 2013

Marbles, Marbles and More Marbles

Somewhere along the line marbles have faded from the American childhood scene. At least I thought so, until I read an article in our local newspaper's, American Profile supplement. I was so wrong.

Just look at the samples from the company featured in that article, the Moon Marble Company in Kansas. Beauties, aren't they!

During the Pilot Mountain School interview process, I caught story after story about playing marbles from the men I interviewed and from quite a few women as well. They played before school, during school recess, after school while waiting for the bus. A few even dared to invent pocket guessing games during class, but the eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head teachers from that generation soon put an end to that. They also put a stop to what they considered gambling, playing for keeps.

Each of those attempts didn't last long and the boys were soon out in the schoolyard on their knees winning and keeping what they won. One man who admitted to being terrible at the sport would supply the best player in his class with marbles and they would split the winnings. Many children carried their "ill gotten gains" in drawstring bags fastened to their belt loops.

A former teacher told me she felt a certain comfort walking onto the school campus and seeing circles etched in the sand all across the back lot.

On the other hand, the mothers found little comfort in constantly patching the knees of their sons' bib overalls while the girls found little comfort in the grit that embedded into their bare knees. But play they did. They all did.

Marbles didn't fade away, not at all. Instead they came to a screeching halt, disappearing almost overnight. I noticed this because as I would ask the marble questions to children of the forties and fifties, they were full of answers, yet when I asked the same questions to children of the late sixties and early seventies, no answers, no marbles.

The difference was progress.

Okay, so progress is good, but it comes with a price, and in this case the price was the game of marbles. The sandlot was no more. Simply put, the playground was grassed over and the parking lot was paved over and every little boy in the history of marbles knows that location is everything, that marbles don't roll on grass and they roll too much on pavement. Sad.

But wait.

This same Kansas company has pictures on their site of children playing indoors! Check it here at the Moon Marble Company.

Here's hoping the game of marbles will make a comeback. It's so much fun.

Catch of the day,


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