By Harriette J. Schwartz aka HJSWritergal
Do you remember it, one of our annual pastimes at Sedgwick Projects, we called it“ marble season”? I have heard from others that it happened in their neighborhoods but I can only speak to playing this at Sedgwick as I grew up with it. I hope others had the opportunity to experience this wonderful childhood phenomenon.
It had no specific dates, no preamble or advertising but when the weather got warm and the snow was gone suddenly one day it was upon us—and we called it marble season. By the afternoon of the first day, it was like a children’s casino of choices to win, lose or draw.
You got filthy but on a good day, you came away with a whole lot more cat's eyes, crystals or pee wees than you started with. They were our own version of precious jewels, little or large and all of them coveted, garnered, treasured and hoarded. If perhaps some future juvenile delinquent was on hand, a smaller kid would, "lose their marbles" in a HOT SCRAMBLE. You may not have initiated it but you sure didn't hesitate to pocket the rolling delights coming in your direction. You just couldn’t help yourself. Though if the victim was in tears we all were generous enough to return some of what we got to them. I was fortunately never a victim of a HOT SCRAMBLE. Occasionally there were HOT SCRAMBLES which were not stolen from other kids, just a kid who decided not to play anymore or were just tossing out a handful to watch everyone “scramble” to get some. Those we kept in a New York minute without a second thought, if we could get any of them.
We needed no signs or directions, all of us kids were ready for it. We saved them in coffee cans and in cigar boxes, preparing for that day when suddenly we were playing again each year. It was gambling & gaming, “kiddie” style. One day you and every other kid on the block was curbside, hawking such things as "jumbo" or "kaboa" or "crystal" or "one plus your own". There was a lot of creativity and entrepreneurialism involved in this game and really no rules written in stone. Everyone of us had an angle for increasing our collections and having a successful season in marbles.
There was no end to the possible ways to set up for “business”. You could cut square holes in a cigar box into which your "customer" had to roll a marble to win. You drew a chalk line on one side of the street and set up a jumbo or kaboa between your open legs on the other side and on your count a bunch of kids attempted to hit your mark by rolling regular size cats eyes aiming at the prize. You decided who won. You needed eagle eyes to be sure, but your word was the final one.
We played, we prospered or we lost fortunes in round glass rolly things. It was truly Las Vegas for kids. Then just as suddenly as it came, marble season would disappear. Nobody rang a bell or sent a memo to mark either the end or the beginning of marble season. It never lasted all that long but it was always among the highlights of our year. No matter how you may have wanted more of it, the end was the end, and it was not to return until next year.
Do you remember it, one of our annual pastimes at Sedgwick, “marble season”?