Editor, The Cheshire Herald:
This time of year reminds of recess at Humiston Elementary School and a story I shared with this group years ago. I was reflecting on my days at Humiston Elementary School from 1950 through 1957. One of my fondest memories was playing marbles during recess.
We were all very serious about this game. We usually had five kids playing the game. Other kids would also be playing in different locations. We dug a hole with a diameter of approximately one foot. The hole was probably 6 inches deep. The winner would take all the marbles in the hole after we completed shooting the marbles.
We had very strict rules. For example, there was no talking when someone was shooting. We had to agree on how many marbles each one of us was willing play with depending on the types of marbles for different games. For example, if agreed to play with five marbles, then everyone had to play with five marbles. That was the usual number. We also had to decide if we would play with only boulders (very large marbles worth the most), only purees (clear marbles with different colors, the second most valuable), regular cat eye marbles, or a combination of the different types. For example, if we decided on two boulders, one puree, and two cat eyes, everyone would play with the same number of each type of marble. If one of us was short different types of marbles, we could swap with the others to get the marbles we needed for the game. For example, a boulder was worth five purees and a puree was worth 10 cat eyes.
We had to decide who would shoot first. We would stand back about five feet from the hole. We would take turns pitching one marble at a time trying to get as close to the hole as possible without going into the hole. Any marbles that went into the hole were considered part of the winnings. Once everyone had pitched his marbles (all boys), the person with a marble closest to the hole would shoot first. The person with the second closest marble would shoot second, and so forth.
Everyone had a style for shooting and some of us had different styles for shooting different marbles into the hole. I always knelt on one knee to shoot boulders. I would make a fist with my thumb next to the boulder held by my index finger pointed toward the hole until I was confident that I was aligned perfectly and knew the distance, then I shot. Coming up short or overshooting the hole meant I lost my turn and the next kid would shoot. I always laid down facing the hole so I had a perfect view when I shot purees and cat eyes. For these marbles, I would place my knuckles on the ground facing the hole. I would point the knuckle of my index finger held by my thumb toward the hole touching the marble. This knuckle was raised slightly higher than the other knuckles. When I was confident that I was aligned with the hole and knew the distance, I would ping the marble.
The first person to shoot always had a strategy. Most shot the closest marbles into the hole first. Others would shoot the ones farthest away first. The idea was if they missed, they would probably get another turn after all the other kids shot. It was almost impossible for the first person to clear the field by making every shot. The last kid to shoot the last marble into the hole won the pot. He put the 25 marbles into the pockets of his dungarees. The rest all did the same with the marbles they had left and we went back to school. I am sure others at different elementary schools in Cheshire have similar memories.