Now there hardly
was a boy my age and slightly older that did not go through
a period of intense marble playing.
There was one game (Game #1) where you would draw a circle
in the dirt about 2 or 3 feet in diameter and you would
place a certain number of marbles in the ring as a contribution
to play, then we would draw a line in the dirt some distance
from us and we would line up and try to see who could toss
(lag) a marble so as to be the closest to the line –
the winner then from that line or one further away would
from the ground begin the process of tossing the marble
to the circle where if you knocked a marble out of the ring
and yours stayed in after impact you could continue to shoot
until you failed. This process was repeated by all players
until the last marble was shot out of the ring.
As we became better shots the distance between the lines
lengthened and the rules further changed so that you could
substitute steel ball bearings for marbles because a ball
bearing would not roll as easily and you were more likely
to get closer to the line as a result. The steel bearings
became specialized because you would use one for "lagging"
and then a big mother for going after the "pot"
because when you tossed it at the ring of marbles you were
likely to throw a number out of the ring which then became
The older boys were of course better shots as they had
been at the game longer and there was one kid, Bobbie Lavin,
who was the absolute champion shooter. He could shoot his
marble into the air at great distances and would land right
smack on top of the target and it would spin in its place.
He would wipe us out. We tried to avoid playing with him
because he was so good. I tried to emulate him playing marbles
and eventually achieved similar success. One of the things
he did which I will never forget is that he invited me into
his room and pulled out from under his bed a Klim can full
of marbles -- a regular treasure trove. I was in total awe!!
I have recently contacted Bob and he remembers the marbles
and the fun of the game and he said he had two Klim cans
of marbles which he eventually used as slingshot ammo.
(Game #2) -- Chase. In this game the objective was to chase
someone's marble with your own and if you hit it, it became
yours and that person was out of the game until it was over.
This started out rather mild where we played in a designated
area but again as we gained skill we covered as much ground
as necessary to get away from an opponent who was after
you. To avoid being hit by the aggressor's marble the game
rules evolved so that when it was your turn to shoot, you
could change your marble for any substitute you could shoot
and in this case we started to replace our prized shooters
with peewees which were about half the size of a regular
marble -- thus harder to hit and if you knew that you were
dead meat you would substitute your best shooter with a
If you placed a marble in a hot fire and then dropped it
into a glass of water it would glaze with many fractures
running through the glass and would significantly weaken
the marble. I would use these marbles as contributor pieces
and if they were struck hard by another marble they would
shatter – tough luck!!
We played marbles from age 4 to about 6 or 7 before we
moved on to Tops.