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Ralph Keele

The Champ

It was mid September, school had started just after Labor Day, baseball season was over and now the sport thing for most boys was playing marbles. And for the girls, jump rope and hop scotch.

But being I am a boy, it was (marble) season. I loved to play marbles. I could hold my own most of the time. There were a few boys that were better than me, so I tried to avoid playing with them. They were better than anyone else because they could shoot the marble faster and harder than most other boys.

Most boys shot fubby knuckle. Meaning you placed you taw, which was the marble you shot with, and it was twice as big as the other marbles, between the first and second joint of your pointer finger, then you flipped it with your thumb. It didn’t have a lot of force shooting like that, but it was very accurate for me. The other way to shoot your Taw was to place it at the end of your pointer finger and balance it with the next finger, and then you would flip it with your thumb. The few boys’, who shot their taw this way, could shoot it much harder and if they were accurate they could win lots of marbles.

There were several marble games we played. Perg: where you made four cup size holes in the ground in a square, about six feet apart, and another in the middle of the square which was called purgatory. The players would anti five to ten marbles in the purgatory hole. Then we would draw a line in the dirt then take turns Lagging our Taw to the line. The one closest to the line was first, second closest, second, and so on. The first player would shoot his Taw from the line to the first Perg hole. If he made it, he kept shooting, if he missed, then the next player shot. The first player to make all four holes, got a shot at the purgatory hole, if he made it, he won all the marbles. You could also shoot at someone’s Taw, to knock it out of the way. But if you missed, the next player shot.

Marbles in the ring: you anti your marbles in the circle drawn in the dirt. You would stack them in a pyramid, from one to five pyramids per player. Then you would lag to see who was first. The object of the game was to knock the marbles out of the circle. And you got to keep those marbles you knocked out. And you continued shooting as long as you hit a marble. But if you missed and your Taw stayed in the circle, the other players could also shoot at it. So you never used your favorite Taw in this game.

On Saturdays we played at the South Side School, right next to my house. I was anxious to go play marbles today. There was always boys there playing marbles. And I was hoping I would win a few marbles today.

I asked my Mom if I could go down to the school to play.

Do you have your chores done?”

Yes, I filled the wood and coal boxes and fed the dog.”

Did you water the front lawn?”

No, but I promise I will do it as soon as I get home.”

Ok, but don’t forget.”

I won’t.”

I grabbed my bag of marble and headed for the school grounds. There were a few boys already there, and it wasn’t long before we had a game of circle marbles going. We played two games and I won ten marbles. Then we played a game of Perg. And I lost ten marbles. We decided to play circle marbles again, and two more boys wanted to play with us, that made five of us. We anteed twelve marbles each, in a ring about six feet across. We were all Fubby Knuckle shooters. That was ok with me. Every had an equal chance to win. I was first to shoot. I hit a pyramid of marbles; my aim was extra good today. When the game was over I had won thirty marbles.

Want to play another game?” I asked.

Sure.” They replied.

Lets up the anti to twenty.”


I won the Lag and got to shoot first, by the time this game was over, I had won fifty marbles.

Want to play another game?” I asked.

Let’s up the anti to twenty four.” Some one dared us.

I don’t have that many marble.” One boy cried.

I’ll lend you some.” I replied.


I wasn’t first to shoot this time, but I didn’t care, I was shooting really well. My turn came, I shot and missed everything, and my Taw stayed in the circle, but it was close to the edge of the circle. The next boy to shoot was the boy I had lent the marbles to.

I said. “If you shoot my Taw and get it out of the circle, I will trade the Taw for the twenty marbles I lent you.”

He looked at me, and then at the other boys. They all started laughing.

If I get your Taw, I’m going to keep it, that’s the luckiest Taw I have ever seen.”

He knocked my Taw out of the circle.

I was ready to cry.

I will give you thirty marbles for it.”

Nope,” He replied.

I had one more Taw in my bag, and I had my favorite lucky Taw in my pocket, but I wouldn’t risk losing it. My turn came again. I took the Taw out of my bag, I shot and I missed again. And, my Taw stayed in the circle.

Please don’t shoot my Taw, it is the last Taw I have.”

Hee, hee hee.”

He knocked my Taw out of the circle again.

Everyone cheered!

I’ll give you fifty marbles for my Taw.”

Hee hee hee.”

What should I do, I could use a regular marble, but it wasn’t heavy enough to knock the marbles out of the circle.

Will anyone lend me one of there old Taws?” I asked.


I felt in my pocket, there was my favorite Taw. Did I want to take the chance? I had no choice. I aimed real good and hit a pyramid; three marbles went out of the circle. I continued shooting until all the marbles were gone.

Want to play another game?” I asked.

No, I have to go home.”

No, I don’t have any marbles left.”

No, let’s play Perg.”

By that time I had won seventy marbles, and two Taws. I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my Mom.

Mom, Mom, I’m the champ.”

Oh, that’s nice.”

Don’t forget to water the lawn.”

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