The anticipation of springtime is a most invigorating tonic. It's Mother Nature's unbottled elixir which gets the juices flowing on the threshold of a new growing year.
Suddenly my springtime yearning turned into springtime recollections of an earlier day when crockies and glassies had higher priority than anything else.
Whether you were a country boy or city-bred, you knew in your bones when it came time to get the marbles out. They came with pussy willows, kites, baseball gloves and the first robins. Mothers rued the day because it meant extra knee patches on britches which spent too much time in close proximity with Mother Earth.
I found a jar with a small hand full of marbles in it and was lost in a reverie of years gone by. Somehow I was transported back to recess in an almost forgotten schoolyard where my classmates were on hands and knees engrossed in a game of "rings."
As I recall, nothing was a greater consequence than trying to win the other guy's marbles. It was far more important, for example, than a United Nations debate. (Oh yes, it was the League of Nations then.)
Nostalgically, I remembered playing "big rings" and "little rings," both drawn on the ground with a sharp stick. In "little rings" (about two feet in diameter) you shot from the outside and tried to knock marbles out of the circle. In "big rings" you knelt inside the 10 or 12-foot loop and tried to clean the ring with your shooter.
I selected the prettiest glassie from the jar and tried to shoot it between thumb and forefinger as I used to do. It was either lack of practice or a touch of arthritis, but somehow the marble didn't eject with that same old-time force.
I grinned sheepishly as I thought of the boys who could actually crack another marble with their shooters. We had special handicaps to make it tougher, like "Knuckles down tight, three fingers flat."
My favorite marble game was "pots." Some time back in the middle of the Great Depression, I was the Yankton "pots" champion. Ah, one touch of Venus! I won a bag full of shiny new marbles. Even though we didn't have much money at the time, life was grand and the future looked great through my rose-colored glassies.
Our marbles were made of glass, baked clay or slag, agate and other stones. The most common were baked clay with a glazed, mottled finish. We called them "crockies."
For a time we had a special fad. We melted lead and poured it into bottle caps. The resultant slugs were a substitute for steelies, and we used them for pot-pitching. Unfortunately, they were too hard on the pots which were always caving in at the edges. We spent too much time digging holes in the yard for "pots" and arguing with mothers about excavating our back yards more thoroughly than moles or gophers.
I might have been standing there yet with that jar of marbles, if Phyllis hadn't broken the spell by yelling at me to come in for a phone call.
Almost tenderly, I put the colored glassies away and went into the house and back to reality.
© 2010 Robert F. Karolevitz