scouts-l Mail Archive for February of 2000: Dan Beard's Marble Games (Was: I'm Discouraged!)
Rick Seymour (Rick@KUDU.NET
Sat Feb 05 2000 - 17:07:06 CST
Heather Price Wrote:
> My husband is dealing with the same problems right now.
> ... He's stopping trying to do anything "worthwhile"
>The 2nd year Webelos have been playing lots of games like
> marbles...and have stopped doing crafts, etc....(Oh, and
> the marbles were the hit of the last few months!)
Dan Beard, the first BSA National Commissioner, would have thought Marbles
to be far more "worthwhile" than those wretched Cub Scout Crafts. Beard
wrote with affection for his favorite spring pastime,
"How my knuckles used to smart where the cold wind had chapped them and
"knuckling down" had ground the mud into the raw places. But, pshaw! What
did I care for raw knuckles, as with a pocketful of assorted varieties of
marbles I watched eagerly for a playmate, and as soon as one appeared,
shouted, 'First for keeps!'"
In his history of marbles he writes:
"While the terrible fires from the bowels of the earth were spouting their
ashes and lava over towns and cities, Pompeii was buried with all its
streets and houses and with some of its people and dogs. Among the many
curious things found in the ruins by the antiquarians who have unearthed
the old cities were--what? Marbles left by the boys in their flight from
the doomed city, and, I think, if the truth were known, some of the little
rascals delayed their departure long enough to secure and carry away with
them their "megs," as the New York boys would call the ancient marbles."
You can now find everything that Dan Beard had to say about marbles (and a
hundred other topics) at the Boys' Inquiry Net:
Included are all of the classic marble games, such as: Stand-Up Marbles,
"Follerings" or Followings, Knucks, Patterson, The Bull Ring,
Duck-in-a-Hole, Meg-in-a-Hole, Meg-on-a-String, and Block or Square Ring.
Other topics include Beard's Marble Philosophy for Boys with his
observations on the nature of character, as well as practical advice on how
to shoot. This is the kind of thing every boy NEEDS to know, and will
greatly appreciate the diagrams that show how to avoid shooting like
"sissy-boy, Little Lord Fauntleroy" ("He would hold his hand vertically,
place his taw or shooter against his thumb-nail and his first finger. He
would shoot "cunny thumb style," or "scrumpy knuckled." The thumb would
flip out weakly (Fig. 5), and the marble would roll on its way").
This is contrasted with diagrams of how a "fair and square fellow" like
"Tom Sawyer" would shoot (Beard was an illustrator for Mark Twain) "Tom
would lay the back of his fist on the ground or on his mole-skin "knuckle
dabster," hold his taw between the first and second joints of the second
finger and the first joint of the thumb, the three smaller fingers closed
and the first finger partially open (Fig.6).
Included under the "Marbles" heading are some projects in case your Cub
Scouts want to try crafts with a little meat on them. How about making
mole-skin "knuckle dabsters" out of dead moles for instance?
Hope this helps!
Yours in Scouting,