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19.4.12

Knuckles

Posted by Jeanne

Jemimah and I popped into our local butcher last week with a strange order. As well as some of his marvellous osso bucco, I was after a set of sheep knuckebones.

Seems nobody else had ever made such a strange request before, but my butcher is...of a certain age...and he became quite nostalgic as he remembered his sisters sitting outside playing Knuckles in their youth. Apparently they dyed their bones by boiling them with ink and other dyes like you do Easter eggs, so that was a useful tip.

At any rate, Mr Butcher told me that the knucklebones from fresh meat were not much good because they took so long to dry, and he kindly volunteered to take a walk around the paddocks and collect a set of similar sized bones for me. Dry, and ready to play.

When we arrived home from Geelong on Sunday night, there they were on the outside table by the back door - six nicely shaped sheep knucklebones. (One is a spare, I guess!)

Real knucklebones are much bigger than the plastic ones that were available in the 60s, which was when I played with them in the schoolyard. They're much harder to play with too, since holding three or four of them comfortably in your hand whilst tossing the fifth bone, known as the taw, is hard enough for me, and almost impossible for Jemimah. Of course, that also makes them a challenge! My grandmother, living on a farm, had a set much like the ones I've just obtained for Jemimah, and I had quite a reputation as a child as a crack knucklebone player because I trained with the much more difficult bigger set and then played and competed with the smaller plastic set.

The correct rules for Knuckles are whatever rules you played as a child. My rules have such names as 'dumps', 'horse in the stable', 'through the arch', 'juggles', 'sweeps', 'thread the needle', 'catching flies', and 'pussy cat'. You'll find the rules to most of these variations here. Right now Jemimah and I are working on 'plains', with me demonstrating my superior skill while I am still able. No doubt she will soon overtake me.

As well as Knuckles, we played marbles, elastics, four-square, rounders, and a quaintly original ball game called gutter-ball at my primary school. Do you have nice memories of any of these? What traditional games did you play as a child? Do tell. Are you passing them onto the next generation?

15 comments:

Erin said...

I did play with these, and we also had a real set, plastic ones for school, the real mccoy at home. I've often thought I should go ask my butcher too. Aren't we geeky?:):)

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness! I remember all of those, even though I played in NSW. I was pretty good too but won't challenge you yet as I don't plan to practise with the real thing!

I wonder if we know the same games for elastics? That I played in Tasmania and I thought those were much better games/ rules than the NSW versions.

Pam

Joluise said...

I use to play with these when I was a kid as dad owned sheep for awhile. The other game we use to play at school was marbles - the boys would make elaborate tunnels, mountains and roads and it was so much fun. No one minded us getting dirty.

Amber said...

We played 4 square, elastics and marbles at school. So far i've taught my kids marbles and they have tried out elastics. We should try 4 square now they are big enough. I'll have to look up rounders and peruse the rules for knuckles and maybe we will give those a go too :-)

Renelle said...

We had lamb every Sunday at my grandparents and we would ask for the knuckle bones to do just that. Very nostalgic...good times, good times. Along with catching lizards, climbing trees, making tracks in ants hill to 'direct the traffic', making jam cookie men from left over rolly polly pudding, and watching the muppet show or Little House on The Prairie on rainy days.

LeAnn said...

Knuckles is new for me. I am familiar with Marbles and have heard about elastics before. I know my kiddos would love this, now I just need to read rules so I can teach um. :-)Thanks for the inspiration.

Silvia said...

I have played knuckles all my life http://www.charlottemasonsp.blogspot.com/2012/04/tabas-matatena-jacks.html
my Mexican friends tell me they have played jacks or matatena as they call it,
but I have never played with plastic ones. We collected from our families, friends,and butcher, lamb knuckles. Mine looked smaller.

I keep these traditions, and thanks for the rules and variations, we are learning and having fun playing jacks too, since we do not have a butcher to ask for kuckles. I am going to ask my mom to collect them and hopefully, next time we go, we can get one or two sets to bring to the States.

...they call me mommy... said...

How neat. You have the most awesome ideas. You got me thinking about all the games I played at private school...four square etc. I have never taught them to my children!! THANKS for the push to do so! :)

Amy said...

Knuckles was a favourite for me as well in days gone by. Although we never had a fancy set of real ones! Just plain old plastic ones for us. ;) Elastics is something I enjoyed too as a child, and a game my girls have played a few times. The girls never really took to marbles, but we do enjoy handball - not sure how traditional hand ball is though. In any case, I am intrigued to go try out my knuckle bone skills.......now, to find some!

joyfulmum said...

Clearly I've been living under a rock as I've never heard of knuckles or most of those games! But then again, I did grow up n a different country lol! Ok, I do remember marbles, hopscotch, pick up stones, and.....hmmmm you've challenged me to go back into the past and remember now. And yes, thanks for the reminder to play these /pass them onto rebekah, because after all pet hotel or angry birds is not something that's going to be a classic game in years to come lol!

Fe said...

I have a set of (dyed) knuckles I have inherited from somewhere (I'm assuming one of my parents); but I never played with that set growing up, then it was always plastic. I tried showing my oldest them a couple of years ago, but they were just too large:-) I must try again, especially as his sister is also now a likely candidate--and they're really getting into games.

Joel said...

Jeanne, thanks for the reminder about knuckles. I must teach my dd, too. I was also a crack at that game - must have a match with you one day, eh? Gutter ball was also a favourite. We had a great little shallow gutter running through our (high)school which was pitched just at the rignt angle. It was a really good game for honing your hand/eye/ball skills.

Jeanne said...

You're on, Joel!

Joel said...

Coolies! Start flexing those knuckles, girl :)
I'll email you.

Joel said...

Jeanne,
I've emailed you.

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