One Room Schoolhouse
(Page 2 of 3)
Marbles was a popular game, especially with the boys, who would play 'keepers.' You made a circle in the dirt about two feet across and put three or more marbles in the center, one for each player, then the players took turns shooting in the attempt of knocking the marbles out of the ring if a player succeeded he got to keep it. Sometimes one boy would win all the marbles and that was the end of the game that day. Dad told me my Uncle Bruce was such a good player that one day he came home crying because he had no one to play with - he had won all the marbles and there were none left.
Run Sheep Run, Hide and Seek, Grab the Hat, were all common games then, and even today they haven't changed much. In winter, when the snow was on the ground, Fox and Goose was popular, and at mixed parties with boys and girls present, the swinging games like 'Farmer in the Dell' and 'Three Old Bums' were popular. Each of them had its song like 'Three old bums a sliding west, sliding west, sliding west, three old bums a sliding west on a cold and frosty morning. The ice was thin and they fell in, they fell in, they fell in and the rest all ran away.' At which time the 'bums' in the center picked a party and swung her or him around and then they in turn were the three old bums. In 'Farmer in the Dell,' the farmer was in the center of the ring and the group circled him singing: 'The fanner in the dell, the farmer in the dell, hi ho the merrie o, the farmer in the dell.' The farmer takes a wife (and he picks a girl who joins him in the center) and then the wife picks the child, the child picks a dog, the dog a cat, the cat a mouse, the mouse picks the cheese, then the cheese becomes the farmer and the game starts all over again. One could get a few hugs this way and that was the point of the game (I think).
Most of the boys played Mumbley Peg. Since every boy carried a pocket knife, this game used that knife by the boys opening the blades and sticking it in the ground by dropping it from various positions in order, until it failed to stick and he lost his turn. There were some dozen or more positions in the routine, knuckles, over the shoulder, from the ear, etc.
The smaller girls, particularly, like to play Jacks. Little six-sided metal jacks were picked up between bounces of a small rubber ball. First one, then two, until all had been picked up in rotation without touching other than the ones to be picked up. Today it is hard to find the metal jacks and even a rubber ball. Once in a while one still sees children playing with them.