Synopsis of Toy
Twosies and threesies were okay, but if you really wanted to be named playground princess, sixies and sevensies were almost always required.
It’s said that Jacks have origins in ancient counting games, but they started to captivate American kids around the turn of the twentieth century. The balls weren’t rubber back then, but the object was still the same: pour the spiky jacks (usually ten, twelve or fourteen of them) out onto the ground, toss the ball in the air, then pick up as many jacks as you can before the ball touches back down on terra firma. If you’re playing with a red rubber ball, you have before that devilish bouncer touches down twice.
Oh, it wasn't as easy as it sounds—especially since all of this is done with one hand. And that, asphalt allies, was just round one. After everyone in your circle of friends had a turn picking up the jacks one at a time, the next step was to pick them up two at a time, then three at a a time, and so on. Depending on how tough the kids in the circle were feeling, if a player skipped a number or touched a jack that she didn’t pick up, her turn was over. And when it was her turn again, she may just have had to start back at the beginning, picking them up one at a time.
The rules varied, and in some games, it was necessary to yell the names of moves out mid-game, making Jacks not just a test of hand-eye coordination test, but of verbal skill as well. “Haystacks,” “Cart Before the Horse,” “Interference” and “Split Jack” were just some of them (and don’t ask us what they mean, ask the girls).
When the game was over, you put your Jacks (or your Jumbo Jacks—extra big for easier handling) in their pouch or their can and called it a day. Hopefully, the imaginary playground princess crown was yours, at least until the next match.
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