Archives for posts with tag: games

When I was a girl, we played jacks all the time.  It was great because you could play it alone or with friends and we were all good at it and we must have played for hours at a time.  If you have forgotten or don’t know what the game of jacks is, here’s a picture…a999c612de30bea465280ea595439046I hadn’t thought about jacks in years and, when I did, I texted my daughters to make sure I had taught them how to play.  One responded that she remembered it, but didn’t play much.  I was feeling like a failure as a mother at that point, but vowed to teach my granddaughters, even though one is probably too old to get into it at this point.

Finding a set took a little while since we don’t have dime stores around any more.  The sets I remembered as a child had the red rubber ball seen in the photo, but we preferred a golf ball, which we always had around the house.  I finally found a set in town, but it only had eight jacks and I remembered more and had a tiny, hard rubber ball.  We tended to play with double sets as we got better and were looking for more challenges.  The set had good sturdy jacks, not the light ones they started making way back.  You have to start with good jacks – I remember that.  And, I had a golf ball I could use.

We played several games…regular jacks, pigs in the pen (which I loved), cherries in the basket, round the world, and whatever game kids could invent.

Last night, I took my eight jacks and a golf ball and sat down on my sidewalk to see if I could still play.  It took a few times for my memory to kick in, but it was all coming back.  I had to adjust for the fact my fingernails are longer and were scratching the pavement, but somehow I figured out how to stop that.  Actually, the hardest thing…don’t laugh…was that the ball tended to bounce away and this old lady doesn’t get up as fast as she used to.  I don’t remember that being part of the game.  When you’re little, your back doesn’t hurt and you bounce up and down with ease.  Sigh.

Anyway, it was coming back to me more quickly than I thought.  I need to practice, but I can still do it.

When I was trying to find jacks, which you can get online, I saw an article on how good the game is, how it teaches children dexterity.  I am sure that my parents never read an article on the benefits of the game and that we wouldn’t have thought much about it.  For gosh sakes, of course it was good for us.  It’s fun!  photo



Over the Fourth of July, I was watching some of my grandchildren, ages 4 to 15,interact with each other and other kids around.  I have a friend who believes that kids make up games and rules that are always fair.  He believes it’s instinctive for them to be fair when left alone by adults.  I remember this from my childhood and watched these modern day kids who are poster children for organized sports and activities.

Guess what?  They still like to play.  First, at the swimming pool, the 14 and 15 year old made up dunking games, where they dunked each other, basketball games played with a small ball, a large beach ball, whatever they could find.  DSC_0409Then there were games on the slide with the ball, games off the diving board, and games with a sister/cousin and her friend.  They never stopped moving.DSC_0400DSC_0420DSC_0413Everything was discussed for a few minutes and then they played.  And played, moving from one part of the pool to the other with a new idea.  The next day, we added a 12 year old and a four year old cousin to the mix.  This changed it up a bit while they learned the new rules.DSC_0013DSC_0023There was no complaining about being bored, no arguments, no tears or whining.  Later, we met for dinner and I brought Pop-Its or Bang Pops, about 50 boxes of them.  They found more ways to pop them than I could imagine.  Very creative popping going on…DSC_0006DSC_0007And we ended the day with hundreds of kids waiting for the fireworks display.  Impromptu games of soccer and frisbee broke out with boys and girls of all ages playing their own version, mindful of the difference in ages and sizes, but all playing.  They didn’t ask names or wait to be introduced, they just threw a ball out there and it began.  They must have played for an hour or two without anybody stopping before they came back to the blankets at dark.  DSC_0020When I watch kids, all kids, playing like this, free of adults to hover over them or tell them what they are supposed to be doing, it gives me great hope.  If kids can figure out how to get along, shouldn’t we all be able to?  If kids can play together, shouldn’t we be able to live together, even with our differences?  Our children have wonderful imaginations when left to use them.  I’m hoping they use those imaginations plus the happy memories they have to build an even better world.

As their grandmother, all I know is that they are just so much fun to watch!

My family always played games…card games like Gin Rummy, Battle, I Doubt It, Go Fish, and a bunch of others along with any kind of solitaire we could find. We played board games when I was growing up…Clue, Monopoly, checkers, Chinese checkers, and all the other classics. Daddy played with us, but he and his friends played Gin Rummy. And they bet real dollars. My mother played Mah Jongg with four of her friends for 25 years. They met weekly for lunch, Mah Jongg, and whatever they talked about. We all knew the names of the tiles and had a little knowledge of how to play.

When I was a young mother, a bunch of us played. My mother got us started and we played regularly for several years until our kids’ activities and our own got too complicated. I hadn’t thought about it at all until one of my friends said she wanted to play again…it would be good for our brains. So four of us are playing…three from the old group and a novice.

It’s a funny game because so few people know what you’re even talking about. Although it’s actually like rummy, it has its own language, rules and great equipment. We get a kick out of it. We like the sound of the tiles clicking when you “shuffle” them by moving them around the table with both hands. We like the pretty tiles and the names of the suits…Bams, Cracks, Dots, Flowers, Winds, Dragons and Jokers. One of our group said, “I just like to say I’m going to play Mah Jongg.” How exotic.

There is a lot of history in games, whether card or board. Mah Jongg goes back to the ancient Chinese and came to America in the 1920s. It’s identified with Jewish women, who created some of the current rules we play by. Wherever it comes from, it’s fun and it really does make you concentrate and think hard. We haven’t gotten to the point where we play for actually money, as my sister-in-law does in Texas, where her group plays for a nickel a point. Right now we’re just having fun and feeling very proud when we say “Mah Jongg” for a winning hand.

Not much better than spending time with friends, having fun, and feeling a strange link with people who played the game oh so long ago. Makes you smile!