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.

 

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