Stupid Kid's Games
Back in the sixties there were a number of (stupid and/or dangerous) games that I don’t think are still around today. My experience with these games were centered around the large sandbox at Francis Street Park. The sand was in fact a necessary component for some of these games as they involved knives being stuck into the sand in various and unique ways.
The most popular knife game I remember was called mumbly peg. I believe this game was not solely indigenous to our neighborhood as I have heard references to it in other locals. If I remember correctly it went something like this: You have a knife and you position it on different parts of your body beginning with your raised feet and ending with your forehead. You would drop the knife off each part of your body and the knife must fall correctly and stick into the sand blade first. You proceeded to each point of the body (knees, fingers, elbows, navel, chin, nose, etc.) until the knife blade failed to fall properly and stick into the sand . Then it was the next kid’s turn. In a game of more than two participants there really was no winner, only a loser. The loser was the last kid to fail to complete all the knife points. Being a loser in this game was not a very pleasant experience. All the “winners” would get to pound a four inch peg into the ground with the knife handle. Each one would get three whacks to drive the peg deeper into the sand. The loser was required to extract the peg from the sand using only the parts of his body from the neck up. This usually involved bulldozing away the surrounding sand using one’s chin and nose. When enough sand was moved to expose the top of the peg, the only real way to finally extract the peg was with one’s teeth. This was all very entertaining and everyone in the park gathered around to watch this rather humbling and humiliating exercise. The fact that this sandbox was also used extensively by the neighborhood cats made it all the more unpleasant for the loser. This was one game you didn’t want to lose.
Another knife game that Byrd reminded me of was called “spreadzies”. One opponent would face the other from about 3ft away, each with their feet together. Players would alternately try to throw the knife into the ground to the side of either foot of the opponent, but it had to be within a knife-length away. If you were successful, your opponent would have to widen his stance up to the knife. The first one who couldn’t maintain his ever widening stance, lost. Byrd remembers playing against Bobby “Lumbert” Ford where he threw the knife and it went through his sneaker, between his big and second toes, and pinned him to the ground! See what I mean by stupid kids games.
Another rather painful game was called “Knuckles”. I don’t remember the actual card play but if you lost, you got your knuckles whacked by the winner three times with a tightly held deck of cards. But, if the whacker drew blood, the whackee got to whack him back on the knuckles three times. Sometimes a loser would squeeze his knuckles afterwards for a drop of blood in order to extract some revenge. Blood sport.
And then the ultimate Stupid Kids Game, although it technically wasn’t a game. We would go across the tracks and build a small campfire. Then, with a stroke of stupidity that would do a modern day JackAss proud, we would throw a 22 rifle shell into the fire. We would all then frantically scatter to find something to hide behind. We would lay there, hearts beating, glued to the ground, hoping to god that we weren’t in the line of fire, until we finally heard the shell go off. Quite a rush. Stupid Kids Games indeed!