I can only think of about three things
we played with that had to be bought. Rubber balls headed the list.
There was no way we knew of to make a rubber ball. A football could
be made by old newspapers folded into a tight package and tied or
taped together. A baseball was easily made by putting tape of some
sort around a ball of string somewhere near the size of a baseball.
Spinning tops could not be made nor could a Hi Li. These items
were in short supply except for the rubber balls. Someone always
seemed to have a ball.
There were two kinds of rubber balls the pimple ball which sold
for .05 and the smooth pink colored ball made by Spalding which
sold for .10¢. There were also tennis balls but we never even
asked the price of those.
We made scooters and what were called "Soap Box" racers
out of old wood fruit boxes or whatever was available. A major tire
maker sponsored what was called "The National Soap Box Derby"
each year. The grand winner won a college scholarship. The power
that propelled the racer was a strong push down a steep hill. If
there were any safety precautions I don't recall them.
Guns were made from clothes pins and a few other easily obtained
pieces of wood. One type of gun would shoot elastic bands made from
cutting up a used inner tube. Another type of gun shot square pieces
of paper board. Both were forbidden by mothers and the police. It
was a sure thing that someone would be blinded, though I never knew
it to happen.
Skelley was a game easily played with beer and soda bottle tops.
This was in the years that all beverages came in glass bottles.
To play Skelley all that was needed was a supply of bottle tops
and a piece of coal or chalk to draw a layout similar to a pool
table on the sidewalk. The rules were not unlike some kinds of billiard
On a hot summer's day when there was nothing to do we would walk
to a large vacant lot on Clinton place and smoke "Chinese Cigars."
A "Chinese Cigar" was really a pod from a catalpa tree.
The pod was three to four inches long and about the diameter of
a medium sized cigar. There was a large problem with a catalpa pod,
it was solid inside. This made it impossible to smoke like a cigar,
we just lit the end and let it burn.
A wooden cheese box was worth its weight in marbles. You could
usually prevail upon someone in the hardware store to cut five small
holes in the box. The holes only had to be a little larger than
a marble. Above each hole a one digit figure was written. The box
was put down any anyone could roll their marble toward the box.
If it went into a hole you won whatever number was above the hole.
If it did not go into a hole, the roller lost his marble.
There were numerous other games that we played that did not require
any equipment. There was "Fifty Scatter", "Ringaleavio",
"King of the Hill", and "Kick the Can", though
for that one an empty can was needed and very easy to come by.
When I look around the streets of city today I seldom see any
kids and the ones I do see are not playing any games. I guess the
streets today are not safe to walk on let alone play games on.