Monday, December 14, 2009

I REMEMBER...marbles & tops

.........MARBLES & TOPS. I have been struggling of late to not get left too far behind in the social networking/technology era.

Ah, the simpler days of yore when I was consumed with the desire to only master the playground skills involving marbles and tops.

I did pretty well at that game and soon became the king of the blacktop at lunch time. As I recall (which is a task in itself...but since this is my blog, I will naturally assume I am correct in my remembrances), the initial game was just one of skill and luck. The tops were about the size of a large lemon, wrapped in string and spun with a flick of the wrist. We would draw a circle on the black top with chalk and the game was to throw your top and have it land in the circle and stay there without wandering off, or to draw an X on the ground (blacktop or cement) and try to hit the X.

Somewhere, in probably the first grade (about 1953) someone must have gotten anxious to throw their top into the circle and succeeded in bumping the first top out. OKLAHOMA SCHOOL YARD TOP WARS was created. The next evolution was when the steel point of someone's top hit the other top and took a chuck out of it (it was wood after all). My Top Reputation was made when my top hit the competitor's top dead center of the top's top and split it right down the middle. There was a hush and reverence for what everyone had just witnessed. I was Michael Jordon...except for my era I was Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth rolled into one. I had done the impossible (quite accidentally, but I took it). The blacktop boys spread my fame, far and wide (all the way to the third graders, as I recall). All the top guys revered me (except for the kid whose top I split - who never spoke to me again). It was fabulous...except for one down side. No one would play tops with me anymore. Sometimes you lose when you win. However, with only a slight nod to the obvious was good to go out on top.

I also had awesome skills with marbles (not so much with baseball, football, basketball ...there was no such thing as soccer in 1950's Oklahoma). The goal of the game was to knock your opponent's marble out of the circle (and you got to keep it). Soon, I had a sizable empire of marbles and had a difficult time finding an opponent, as I had taken most of their marbles. The Heavens have an uncanny way of evening up lopsided situations, however. My downfall was that there was an unfairly strict rule about having your marbles out during class time. I dropped my pencil one day and as I reached down to pick it up, the unthinkable happened. My marble dynasty was over in an instant as my year's winners swag of marbles spilled out of my coat and covered the classroom floor as Miss (Evil to the Core) Billingsly, stepping around the few hundred marbles scattered before her, gingerly approached my desk, snapping that old wood ruler into the palm of her hand. I can see it as clearly as if it was yesterday (which is interesting, as I can't remember much that happened last week- which I guess only proves that you can always recall the true turning points of your life). The inflexible rule was that you forfeited ALL your marbles to the principal for the rest of the year if they hit the floor. I went from 1st Grade Marble King to Marble Pauper in an instant. My lasting memory is of all my classmate slain opponents grinning from ear to ear as I had to pick up my treasured marbles and deliver them to the principal's office.

Expecting life to treat you well because you are a good person is like expecting an angry bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.-- Shari R. Barr

You Can't Always Get What You Want. But If You Try Some Time, You Just Might Find, You Get What You Need....Mick Jagger

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