Tags: altschiller | barrett | cullen | spalding

Remembering the Games Kids Used to Play

Remembering the Games Kids Used to Play
(Credit: Tom Messner)

Thursday, 02 August 2018 11:03 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Everything you’ve forgotten about being a kid in New York City in the 1940s, 1950s or perhaps a stretch of the early 1960s is remembered here by David Altschiller, a graduate of Public School (PS) 160 and Jake’s Candy Store.

Everything you will see no more on the streets you will see on these pages:

GamesBookRemembMessnerTake1BHPOnly.jpg(Credit: Tom Messner)

It is our remnant that he captures.The illustrator is the great Ron Barrett who usually has imaginative takes on food (the film, "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs") but here only gets the chance to show that skill with his depiction of "One-Potato, Two-Potato, Three-Potato More," a way to choose up a game or eliminate an odd player.

The book is not a lamentation of passing time, but a celebration. Even the sadistic game of "Saloogie" is recalled with a fondness that tells me David and Ron’s hat or book or pencil case was never swiped and tossed around while they pursued it.

Or, perhaps they were too cool to wear a hat in the schoolyard.

I wish they had used color for at least one drawing, that of a "Spaldeen" (local pronunciation). It has to be pink and it is the great monument to A.G. Spalding and his company. For practitioners of the Spaldeen, it was always the live-ball era and a newly bought one was the one you wanted to hit before anyone else.

You wanted to watch it soar over the fence, over the yard, over the grouchy, scowling neighbor who told you to "play in front of your own door."

Regionalisms separate Brooklyn and Queens more than I thought. What we in Queens called "Steam," the guys in Kings County named "Alley Bat" for stickball played against a wall with a drawing in chalk of a strike zone. We used the side of a Long Island Railroad (LIRR) section or a King Kullen closed on Sunday but in Brooklyn they used any wall or alley left free. Surprising too was that "Ringolievio" (might be spelled wrong, but spell check doesn’t seem to recognize that) seemed to have died out in Brooklyn before it expired in Queens. I was not surprised to find it on Wikipedia, but was amazed to see it is also the name of a restaurant in Brooklyn.

The theme of the game, I trust, has not extended to the menu or the service.

I would not for a second recommend the revival of any of these games and the banning of video games as valuable as that suggestion might be to the vitality of America’s future.

But I would recommend strongly that the publisher market this book wherever the New York diaspora thrives. This book would be the number one best seller in Florida from Boca to Jupiter, topping even Patterson-Clinton’s novel of treachery in the government or James Comey’s version of Saloogie played with dossiers.

Tom Messner worked forever in advertising. In politics, he avoided the predictable negative bent and did positive ads for Reagan in 1984 and for Bush in 1988 along with Bush’s convention film. The agency he co-founded created NASDAQ’s first branding, Volvo’s comeback, and Fox News’s "We Report. You Decide." Then learning from the pols he partnered with (Roger Ailes in particular), they brought attack ads to such formerly benign areas such as telecom (MCI). At 73, he’s doing two things he never did before: Blogging here on wildly unconnected subjects coming on the heels of last year’s adventure: the writing of his first play, a musical "Dogs" destined now for either Broadway or The Pound. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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I would not for a second recommend the revival of any of these games and the banning of video games as valuable as that suggestion might be to the vitality of America’s future.
altschiller, barrett, cullen, spalding
Thursday, 02 August 2018 11:03 AM
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