Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I wonder if Grandpa Benhard ever played marbles? I wonder if my dad did. Was I first generation?

When you are in grade school and it is spring, the fun of being outside at recess includes playing marbles. Although generally thought of as a pastime for boys, whereas jump rope and hopscotch was for girls. It didn't seem to be a problem for me to cross the line. I only needed a boy with marbles to teach me.

And so it was R who taught me how to shoot the marbles out of the circle with his pure glass ruby red shooter.

The idea was for each player to present the same amount of marbles into the center of the circle. So, R, being gracious, put in 12-six for me and six for him. He also loaned me his pure royal blue shooter.

Like the Romans or the Egyptians before us, we played until all the marbles were out of the circle. R. took his marbles after every game. They were, after all, his property.

One Saturday when we went to town, I spent 25% of my allowance and bought a bag of marbles at Ben Franklin. The teaching was over, it was time to play the game.

Another week of school days came and went and R. got some of my marbles. I watched how he knuckled the marble to shoot it, then practiced at home in the carpeted living room. The pure-see though marbles, which were smaller, were harder to hit, I thought of investing something with a smaller target. I had by passed them because of the expense.

Three new rules had been enforced since I started this phase of my life;

1. Do not drop the marbles one by one off the up stairs landing of the oak stair way thinking the marbles would roll into the open closet door.

2. Do not leave marbles on the carpet, they hurt when your shoeless parent's step on them.

3. If mother had to pick them up, they were goners.

And so R. and I continued to play and I started to win. The World of Marbles came to a halt one day when all R. had left was his two pure shooters. I would trade him 6 marbles for his shooter. He kept his favorite, the ruby one, until, alas, he traded that in too and 'rented' the shooter to continue play.

The ruby shooter got lost in the snow on the playground at Northrop School. I had learned to play. The fun part of it for me was over. R. was out of marbles. When he looked in my desk without permission, I hurt his hand when I slammed the lid down on it.

There is a Nash-Finch coffee can in the basement on a shelf in the coal room. It is full of marbles and shooters. They are Tom's. He probably won them off some girl in Sabin, MN when he was in elementary school.

Life isn't always fair, even in marbles.

Poor R.


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