Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Games we played when we were young

When we were young we played different games using the very limited resources we had at that time. We had no Lego,no jigsaw puzzles and no play dough. We did not have Barbie Dolls.

We used rubber seeds, jumping ropes made from rubber bands,river stones and sticks.

One of the most versatile games that we played was called five stones. We actually used lovely stones we picked up from the road side or river bank. The smoother ones were favoured. My mother was good at playing this game and we actually learned from her. For those just beginning to play the game it was complicated because one had to throw one of the stones in the air and, using the same hand, grab the other stones and catch the falling stone. We had to pick up the stones in order. The first play, we picked up one stone, the next one we picked up two stones at the same time and so on. If we managed to do all that, our turn would end when we managed to pick all the stones at one go. This meant we had won one round. And the game moved on to the next person. When a person dropped the stone, he lost his round. We had other variations in playing this game though. It was fun and we could spend the whole afternoon just playing this game "underneath a wooden house" or along the five foot way.

Hopscotch or jumping the aeroplane was a nice game. It gave us the opportunity to jump and learn a lot about balancing. And we get noticed if we did very well. Kids liked that. We played along the five foot way as it was protected from the sun and the rain. But sometimes we played along other side walks. We had no playgrounds at that time in Sibu. An older kid would draw the grid, in the shape of an aeroplane. It was actually two straight boxes, and then two boxes across and then one more box on top,and then two more boxes and finally one more actually forming an aeroplane. So we called it Jumping the Aeroplane.

We would say Ho Peng,and the person showing the winning hand (the odd one out) would be the first one to play. To play the game we needed a stone or a piece of wood and our strong leg to jump. The first player would throw the stone inside square one. After that, he had to hop into each square, starting with square 1 and ending in square eight.

If there were two squares together, he would jump landing with one foot in each square; but if there was only one square,he had to hop on one foot.

When he reached squares 7 and 8, he had to turn back jumping again until square 1. Then he continued playing the next level.

This time he began by throwing the stone into square number 2. In the next level, he threw it into square number 3. He ontinued until level 8.

The first player who could do all the levels was the winner. The most important thing was that the player had to skip the square where the stone was.

Special Rules of the Game
The game had some rules. If an of the following things happened, the player had to stop and another player took a turn.

The player can't put his/her foot or feet on the lines of the square.
The player can't jump with two feet in squares 1, 2, 3, and 6.
The player can't fall down.

Marbles - we collected wonderful marbles, glass ones, ceramic ones and just simple clay ones which were rough and "clay" in colour.

There are many different ways of playing marbles. We had a small rectangle drawn, with a line in the middle. Then there was a line about 10 feet away, or nearer if we were playing with small kids. We would arrange the marbles at the four points of the rectangle and one in the middle. The first player would try to throw his marble in such a way he would touch one of the marbles. Then he got to keep that marble for himself. He would take his turn again. And if he could touch another marble with his marble he would keep that marble again. If he did not touch any marble his marble, he would then lose his turn. We had a few king marble players who won almost all our marbles. It was like a fortune to us then.

Another way of playing marbles was the shooting type.

One set of marbles was placed at the center of an approximately 10- by 15 square foot ground or floor arena, in the form of a triangle or square.

The number of marbles might vary from 2 to 8 or even more, depending on the number of players and agreement among them. Each game would last from 20 to 30 minutes.

Each player had his or her own shooter marble to shoot the set. Shooting was done by placing the shooter marble between the index finger and the thumb and moving the thumb outward to shove the shooter marble in order to hit the marbles in the set.

Player number one started the game by shooting at the set and went on playing until he/she missed hitting any of the marbles from the set. Then, it was the other player's turn to shoot the set.

Each player temporarily kept any marbles that he/she could hit and moved out of the triangle or square.

The final session the game was very significant. All the players took turns beating each other. If a player's shooter marble got hit, he/she lost and must give his/her temporary wins to the one who hit him/her. At the end of the game, the winner took all.

Foot Shuttlecock: This is "an Asian sport with a reputed two thousand year history, is the oldest of the shuttlecock games. Starting life as a sport for men it has evolved over the centuries, into the predominantly children's game that it is today". In fact this is part of the primary school Physical Education syllabus today in Malaysia.

The purpose of the game is to kick a specially constructed, usually home made, shuttlecock into the air and keep it there for as long as possible solely by the use of the feet. This is normally accomplished by administering repeated kicks with the instep of either foot.

The game can be played by any number of players as follows:

If a solitary player, the object is to keep count of the number of times the shuttlecock is kicked into the air and to try and better one's previous highest score. When the shuttlecock falls to the ground the game is over.

If more than one participant, players form a circle and kick the shuttlecock to each other. A player who misses and lets it fall to the ground has to drop out of the game. This process of elimination is repeated, until the player who remains at the end is declared the winner.

One of my favourite game when I was young was blowing soap bubbles. Whenever my mother was washing her clothes, my siblings and I would crowd around and asked for extra "omo" to make a small bottle of bubbles and we would put our straws into the bottles and started to blow the soap bubbles from the first floor. It was actually very thrilling to do so. We love seeing big bubbles floating in the sun.

Eagle Catching the Chicks.
Children playing the game pretended they were an eagle, a hen, and some chicks. All the chicks stood behind the hen in a row, and the hen tried her best to protect her babies. When the game started, the eagle tried to catch the chicks. If a chick was caught by the eagle, then the eagle won the game, and the chick who was caught was the eagle in the next game.

We played a lot of games together. But as we grew older, and some children moved away, our young gang disbanded. And when the games stopped altogether, I knew my child hood was gone.

It was a sad moment when I looked at the empty hop scotch marks on the cement drive way, and the permanent rectangle for our marbles games under the house opposite our house in Brooke Drive seemed to beckon me but I had no more marbles left.

A magnolia leaf dropped onto the drive way as if to tell me that that special part of my life is forever gone.

3 memories:

Unknown said...

Note that Ho Peng is the corruption of the English word "open".

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Thank you. This is really nice to know. I have even taught my own children to say, "Ho Peng" and we would laugh loudly....Sometimes we play monopoly starting with Ho Peng....where has all the time gone to?

Unknown said...

The "five stone" game you mentioned can sometimes be just 3 stones. And every stage of the game, I remember, is named after the day of the week...Mon, Tues, Wed.....

Also, the rubber band games where people have joget, snake, etc, etc..... Alas, those were the days.


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