Playing tops was not for the weak-kneed
ones. We used to buy tops over in Ojeda or from a guy who
came through the camp and sold them off a truck. These were
beauties of two different sizes and painted solid colors
or sometimes stripes. They were made of wood with a metal
point whose shank was inserted into the wood. We used to
use hand fishing line cord to spin the top. We were good
at it and we could hit just about any target we aimed at.
We did not just toss them lightly to the ground, no, instead
we would wind up like a ball pitcher and use a round-house
swing to get the greatest spin out of the top. If you drilled
a few small holes in the side of the top you could make
it hum -- neat.
Well, we played for tops like we
played for marbles but now we were older and stronger. We
would make a circle in the dirt and place our contributor
tops in the ring spike up and then try to knock tops out
of the ring with your throwing top. We got good at that
and now the change in the nature of the game -- our whole
demeanor changed and we were aggressive. We modified our
throwing top to be more than just a spinning top. We replaced
the rounded points with cut-off nails which we sharpened
so that when you struck a top in the ring you gouged a chunk
of wood out of it or left a gapping hole in it which now
became the objective. A defensive move was to similarly
modify the tops you placed in the ring so that a thrower's
favorite top could end up with major damage if not thrown
in a manner so that it came in from the side as opposed
from the top.
It was not unheard of to spike oneself
in the foot with a bad throw and if the top hit on its side
it would bound up spinning furiously and we would scatter
to keep from being spiked.
For us, tops were expensive and my
folks would not replace my tops as quickly as they were
damaged and so that game eventually went by the boards.