If you live close enough to get there, be aware that you have a limited time left to enjoy it.

Today I hope you’ll delight in Art Manno’s “Marbles” and the back story.

I feel the need to add a comment here, as I’ll bet some of you will too. The only game I was good at as a child was marbles. and we played for keepsies. For some reason my parents objected to that. Nonetheless, I had my fat bag of marbles. We played so many of the other games too, growing up in the suburb of Forestville, Connecticut.

Even more, Art’s backstory reminds me of the delight I took in hearing my former husband’s tales of growing up in his Italian neighborhood in New Haven.




When I first saw this photo I couldn’t resist, I had to paint it. It brought back so many fond childhood memories growing up in Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn New York, of all the fun games and the crazy things we used to play and do in the streets until it got dark. You always made it home for supper and back to the streets!

           Marbles were a big part of our childhood. Everyone had their favorite marble they called their shooter, and we would never use that marble in the game to lose. We would line up marbles in the dirt and the ones you hit out of the line you won. You did that until you missed. Then the next shooter would get a turn.

         I remember our pockets bulging with marbles and sounding like broken glass jingling when you walked. If you were a good shot you ended up with a lot of marbles, and if you weren’t a good shot you lost your marbles; I’ll bet that’s where that phrase comes from!

         Stickball and Punch ball were big games of the day. The ball we used was called a Spalding, which was the brand name, and we called it a spaldeen, due to our Brooklyn accent. It was pink in color. We sawed off a broom or mop handle for a bat.

There was always someone watching out the window, often a Grandma type. She would be yelling that we were going to break her window, usually in broken English!

     Two hand tag football, Box ball, and Stoopball were some of the other street sports we played. Handball was one of my favorites. We also played Ringoleavio, where one person had to find everyone in the game who was hiding. We had boundaries, and rooftops were included.

       Johnny-on-the-pony was fun. It required one team to line in a row, bent over from the waist, while members of the other team jumped on their backs, one by one until the combined weight forced everyone to fall to the ground.

       There was Skelly; we used bottle caps to shoot with our fingers to slide them either on the sidewalks or streets. There was Hopscotch and tag, and one we called War, which we played with our pocketknives by throwing them in the dirt to see whose knife landed in the biggest part of the circle that had been drawn in the dirt, divided like a piece of pie. Kick-the-Can, Red light Green light 1,2,3! Flipping baseball cards, the card that lands on the pile wins them all. We would also trade one another for the cards we were trying to get.

     When we weren’t playing we were making Scooters and Go-carts for joy riding , most kids didn’t own bikes. This painting of the boy playing marbles will always bring back those wonderful memories growing up when life was simpler, when all we had was our ingenuity to create our own fun.

The street was my world and as a young artist also my easel, where I used to draw comic and cartoon characters. I have been truly blessed to be a part of it.

Childhood Memories       Art Manno



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  1. Art’s painting and backstory bring back similar memories from childhood in Broomall, PA, a much different setting from Bedford-Stuyvesant, but these games transcend location. We were actually PLAYING with each other and, mostly, enjoying it unless it was boxing. Then not so much for one of two who squared off. As a street worker in North Philadelphia the summer of 1962, I played stickball with junior high gangs outside the walls of the Corinthian Avenue Penitentiary. Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a fun picture! The boy looks so intent. And, I enjoyed reading the back story.

  3. Art,
    Very similar childhood—games at least. Living in the Bronx, we did all the same things. Moving to another neighborhood, I found some new games. Those were the days. Thanks for the memories.

  4. I remember.
  5. Powerful memories indeed.

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