A great place to play jacks on a warm summer afternoon was on Grandma Mae's front porch which was on the east side of the house away from the blazing sun. Most porches were rough, hers was smooth. Another favorite place was on Julie's front porch, it was painted and made it smooth.
Julie had a big family including two older sisters who were great jack players and even better trainers. If the four of us played, the older girls generally won. We played after supper and after the dishes were done and the Lone Ranger was over on the radio. After the sisters finished, Julie and I would finish.
Our jack sets were 12 in with a little red rubber ball. Although the most common game was tossing the jacks in the air and picking them up first by ones, then two at a time, until the person who was it, picked up all of the jacks at one time. That was hard to do, as you still had to toss the jacks in the air rather than lay them down in a clump. A miss was called when the player was not successful at picking up the confirmed number of jacks. When it was your turn again, you started at the number you missed on.
Other variations remembered were pigs in a pen and double bounce. In pigs in a pen, the player made a little cove using their hand with the pinkie next to the concrete. One would push the number of jacks into the pen. The other, double bounce was hard to do with a little rubber ball but watch out if you were using a golf ball that would really bounce--if you could control it is something else.
The game is hundreds of years old, I will need a hundred years to figure out what children used for a rubber ball. I have no trouble with the impression of ancestors using rocks or bones for the jacks but what about the ball?
The picture of the jacks shows them as plastic. Ours were shaped the same way but made of metal. When they were purchased, they were bright and shining and generally red or blue but after a few rounds, the paint fell off. Used jacks were grey with specks of color.
I must be a jack! I am grey with specks of color
Happy rubber ball bouncing!