What's a Raconteur?

rac·on·teur
/ˌräˌkänˈtər/

A person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way; a storyteller; a narrator

Old Fashioned Games To Play With Your Grandchildren

We’ve seen many great technological changes in the last several decades. While children and young adults today grew up with some or a lot of technology, many grandparents were adults before they even saw or owned a television. When they were children, they entertained themselves with a variety of games.

Some of our life story subjects who were born between 1925 and 1945 have shared fond memories of their favorite childhood games, some of which we are sharing below. Give some of these games a try with your children, grandchildren, or other loved ones!

Annie Over

David shared the following details about this game: “This game is played with a small rubber or sponge ball, and players are divided into two teams. Each team is positioned on opposite sides of a house. The team to start the game hurls the ball over the roof while yelling, ‘Annie over!’ Whoever catches the ball runs around the house and throws it at a member of the opposing team. Whoever is hit with the ball is out of the game, and whichever team eliminates all of the opposing team wins the game.”

David recalled playing this game with his friends at a house built up on piers, allowing the teams to see each other’s feet and legs, letting them know where the opposing players were located and making the game extra challenging and fun. 

Half Rubber Ball 

Richard shared the following details about this game: “The objects needed for this game are broomsticks and a rubber ball cut in half, with players divided into two teams. The game is similar to baseball, with a batter, pitcher, catcher, and outfielders. The pitcher throws the half rubber ball like a Frisbee, and the batter tries to hit it. If the batter hits the ball, they advance to first base. If the batter swings and misses, they are out. Once a team has three outs, it’s the other team’s turn at bat.” 

Richard played this game with his cousins and friends. He added that he was so good at pitching that he could throw curveballs and knuckleballs! Upon completing his life story book, this writer gifted him a set of half rubber balls to play with his grandsons. 

Jacks 

Gloria shared the following details about this game: “This game is played with a small rubber ball and 12 to 16 jacks (six-pronged metal objects measuring about an inch in diameter). Once the jacks are scattered on the floor, the player bounces the ball. In the first round, the player must pick up one jack without moving the others before catching the ball. The next round, the player must pick up two jacks, then three, etc. If a player misses a jack, the round is over.” 

Gloria, like a lot of our subjects, played this game with her siblings on rainy days when they couldn’t go outside to play from sunup to sundown like usual. 

Marbles

Richard shared the following details about this game: “Each player selects their largest marble to use as the ‘shooter.’ The rest of the marbles are scattered inside a ring. The player places their shooter outside the ring, and then, by holding their hand in an ‘OK’ sign, flicks the shooter with their forefinger into the ring. The object of the game is to knock as many of the marbles out of the ring as possible, scoring points with each marble knocked out of the ring. The player can continue their turn as long as they are knocking marbles out of the ring. The game ends when all the marbles are out of the ring. Many of our subjects recall shooting marbles with their friends, especially on the playground at school. 

Mr. Richard became the champion marble player at his school. Since he often played for keeps, he accumulated a large marble collection. Even at eight or nine years old, though, he wisely refused to play against younger children, feeling he’d be taking advantage of them if he took their marbles, and only played against his peers or superiors. Later, as a successful businessman, he kept a bowl of marbles on his desk to remind him of this all-important rule: never take advantage of a weaker man. 

Treasure Hunt

Sallie shared the following details about this game:  “At the beach, Mother told me fictional stories about treasure from pirate shipwrecks washing up on beaches. Then, when we walked along the beach, she would go ahead of me and secretly drop coins, which my brother and I would then gather as our ‘treasure.’”

Sallie recalled that she’d get utterly excited by this game and truly believed the treasure to be real. Only as a young adult did she fondly remember this game and realize her mother’s hand in it. This game can be played with many variations. Coins or candy or other small objects can be hidden around the house or in the backyard. Clues to the next piece of the “treasure” can be left, leading to the final piece. Players can be creative and make their own version of this game.

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Below are details about a game we DON’T recommend you try with your grandchildren (or anyone for that matter!) However, many of our subjects share their memories of playing   Mumbly Peg.

Mumbly Peg

David shared the following details about this game: “This game requires a two-bladed pocketknife. The shorter blade is opened out in line with the handle, and the longer blade is opened at a 90-degree angle to the handle. The longer blade is stuck lightly in the ground, and the player uses their forefinger to flip the knife upward. Points are scored according to how the knife lands in the ground.

Small blade stuck in ground = 100 points

Large blade stuck in ground, handle not touching ground = 50 points

Large blade stuck in ground, handle touching ground = 25 points

If neither blade sticks in the ground, it is the next player’s turn. The player with the most points at the end tries to use the handle of the knife to drive a peg as far into the ground as they can.


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