The “Little Guy” was pawing around in a box of small things and found an aluminum 35-mm film container from when it was the most popular format.
The item that fell out was a mystery to him. It wasn't in his vocabulary of known things and he held it out to me.
“Jacks.” I said. “It's a game. A toy.”
He tried to noodle out what could be done with the little metal gizmo that doesn't look like anything but what it is.
The last time I saw kids playing with jacks was so far back I can't recall it, likely in the 1950s.
Kids huddled on the ground or sidewalk with a rubber ball and ten jacks or “jack stones,” which they may have been called before the elements were manufactured. A thousand years ago the game was called “knuckle bones.”
In case you have forgotten, it first must be determined who goes first by tossing the jacks into the air and catching them on the back of your hand.
When your turn came you scattered the jacks and tossed the ball into the air and picked up a jack after the ball bounced, then caught it. When the ten jacks are picked up the game continues by picking up two at a time (twosies), then three (threesies) but I never got that far.
Using seeds or pebbles and a ball from an old Bolo paddle, you were good to go.
Bolo paddles are rarely seen today but there were Bolo champions in the school yard and the paddle itself was popular with parents and teachers.
I liked “pickup sticks” in which a fist of colored sticks were scattered and one attempted to pick up the sticks without moving other sticks. Points were awarded according to the color of the stick.
Another very old game, played mostly by girls, required nothing but the ground or sidewalk.
Forms of hopscotch have been played since Roman times by children and confident adults.
I suspect schools ban jacks, pick up sticks and anything else that might be fun. They likely do not allow dodge ball and “red rover” on the school ground either. Some schools ban little green soldiers because they carry tiny weapons. Really.
Children can get hand-eye coordination practice with games, more so than electronic games.
I'm going to find the “Little Guy” a Bolo paddle and maybe some pickup sticks for when his mother is not around.
My Sunday school class is populated by folks my age and older, but I believe that if I broke out a few Bolo paddles, jacks and marbles we could have a swell time on the floor.
Then we could help each other up.