Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

Games of old

April 6, 2006

In the early 1940s, boys played Mumble Peg with a pocketknife. I always carried a pocketknife but didn't play the game according to the rules until Clarence Huycke moved to town.

The first thing Clarence said to me was "let me see your knife." We've been good friends ever since.

Clarence played Mumble Peg a lot in Wilson, where he came from, and he was good at it. I got better but seldom would win. We played on the south side of the grade school lawn, because that ground was perfect for the knife to stick upright.

The game was usually played with two players but you could practice by yourself. I think we took turns who would start first, but one way to start would be who gets closest to the peg that was in a two foot circle from a standing position. With the knife blade standing on its point on the thumb of your left hand, it is flipped with the index finger of the right hand on the handle of the knife. Then you continue with each finger of the left hand, the same thing on the right hand, then the elbows, shoulders, chin, nose and forehead. There were 20 positions in all.

When the first player missed, the other started the sequence until he missed. Then the first player would resume his sequence. If both players complete the sequence without missing, then the game is a draw.

Some people used a sharpened kitchen match as a peg. The loser had to pull the peg out with his teeth, and that's where the word Mumble comes from. We did not do that part of the game.

Another use for the pocketknife is "whittling." My wife had a dear friend, Melvin Politte, who insisted that his children learned how to whittle. He said, "Every boy needs to know how to whittle."

We realize this day and age pocketknives are not allowed, and that is sad. I use my knife daily. Clarence and I still carry our pocketknives every day, but it's been awhile since we played "Mumble Peg."


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