I loved the catseyes the best, and even had a few giant ones. I won most of the marbles from all the boys in the neighborhood, and my mother made me GIVE THEM BACK. I’m still sad about it. I won them through skill, fair and square, and it was no fun to play after that.
I also played pick up sticks, and tiddlywinks, and later on, I had the world’s best toy; an erector set, with a motor. Then I found the science fiction section in the library, and life changed. I have no idea what happened to the erector set; I suppose my little brothers inherited it, and that was that.
I also played jacks; probably where I got the hand/eye coordination for marbles.
@Shrdlu I inherited an old erector set with a motor. The condition of the motor, however, made things far more dangerous. It no longer had the fairly smooth motion, but would work in unpredictable jerks. My neighbor and I used it to build a “hot potato catapult” the basically amounted to having it chuck stuff at us. I’m suddenly trying to remember how I survived childhood.
Couldn’t take marbles to school, “keepsies” was likened to gambling. Marbles had been a very popular at the lil country school. 1st thru 9th, 200 or so students. They closed the hundred year old school recently. Oh, I’m rambling, again.
I never had marbles. I remember one kid in elementary school that had a bag of them hooked to a belt loop, and always wanted to play but wouldn’t let anyone touch his marbles, scolding us all for not bringing our own marbles, and ultimately assuring that not only would no one play marbles with him, but no one would play anything with him. He’s still one of the most awful human beings I’ve ever met. Even when he finally gave up on marbles in middle school, he tried to make us all play foursquare, so yeah, jerk.
@Kidsandliz The commercially packaged marble runs (Marble Run, SpaceWarp, Techno Ball, Skyrail, Skytrax) were after my time (that is, after I was a kid), but I unabashedly played with my kid’s (I think it was a Skyrail) all the time.
@daveinwarsh There are people who do this as a hobby and for a living. You need to know how to weld (and bend metal- brass if you can afford it since it is easier to bend, but of course other stuff is cheaper. There’s a yahoo group and facebook dedicated to these. Usually calling rolling ball sculpture. The metal balls are usually ball bearings since they are more “regular” than marbles and at speeds that can be obtained and corners that can be sharp, you need predictability to keep them on the track.
Absolutely. Marbles were a big thing. Steelies were cool, but as others have noted, they were ALWAYS banned from play. Boulders were allowed, though. Catseyes were generally the most desirable.
Marbles were the thing about the same time as yoyos, which had a 2-3 periods of hotness while I was growing up. Yoyos were big enough that Duncan sponsored champions who’d visit and show you how “easy” it was to do all kinds of tricks with them.
This is all Baby Boomer stuff. Kids today seem to have replaced this stuff with screen time.
Am a millennial. Had plenty of yo-yos as a a kid and a small collection of marbles. I don’t think I was even aware that there was a marbles game though, I just thought of them as little collectible shiny spheres.
I learned how to play 10 years ago when I was a Den mom for my son’s cub scout den.
I was happy Scouts had those types of activities, they do a good mix of always practical (e.g. first aid, cooking), advanced (e.g. STEM, rock climbing,) and “started as practical but now mostly hobby” (e.g pottery, woodworking, archery). It starts back in Cub Scouts with things like an achievement award for learning basic tool use, recognition for knife safety skills, and I think learning Marbles was part of a sportsmanship achievement award.
My kids both dropped before making Eagle but I loved their Troop and wished I could have done the badges. I dropped out of scouts as a brownie because my den was run badly (3 yrs got only one badge, the rest of the time seemed taken up with whatever the mom wanted to talk about but didn’t actually help us advance beyond the minimum, and she was going to be my Girl Scout leader when we bridged so I gave up).
Maybe I’ll add to my bucket list unofficially doing all the achievements for Eagle Scout/Gold Award.