Entertainment at home was mostly educational

Return to Table of Contents

By Horace Hobbs

Hampton Union, January 18, 1984

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Playing cards was a favorite indoor pastime in Hampton during the early days of this century. We became quite competitive at Hi-Low Jack, whist and by our lonesome, solitaire. Cribbage was a game that Dad and I used to play for the whole family championship.

Other games had an object of educational value. There was the game of “Authors.” Cards had pictures of famous American authors and the names of their outstanding writings. The object was to get cards by asking your opponent for a particular card in order to make up a complete listing of his works. Four people usually played the game, and the winner was the one who made a complete listing first.

“Jack Straws” was a game played with many toothpick-like pieces of wood about six inches long and of varied colors. With a hook like a button hook, the player was to raise and convey a straw that he picked up of his particular color to a bowl. The one who got all of his sticks in first won. This was a game testing touch and balance by hand. You couldn’t be nervous or have the shakes.

Dominoes was another common game in which you had to use your head and practice arithmetic by recognizing combinations of white dots on the black dominoes. The player who got rid of his initial quota of dominoes first won.

Then finally, there were checkers and parchesi that tested your powers of recognition of position to make favorable “moves” that would win the game.

In those days there were not so many people. There were plenty of open spaces: woods for walking, hunting and bending birches; marshes for hunting, fishing, clamming and boating; streams and shoreline for bathing. It was all there as it is today, but not so many people in the way requiring intensive regulations.

Of course, there was plenty of opportunity for all games, but also such timely games as duck-on-the-rock, sheep-in-the-pen, marbles, stick in the mud and should I mention such games as hide-and-go-seek and drop-the-handkerchief, where boys and girls played together. Later, there were bicycles, and we used to ride in groups of eight to 15 bicycles “around the Ring.” Now, the Ring included what was known as Ring Swamp. Ring Swamp included the area beginning at Pine Tree cemetery on Winnacunnet Road all the way to Lafayette Road or much of that which today comprises the athletic fields and all of that recreation area. We had a piece of meadowland there which we used to cut for hay every year. The grass thrived on this wet area, and we got a “second crop” of hay each year. It was a place for the most delicious large wild strawberries in the world. Taking our cue from the electric car conductors, as we passed people walking we would call out “one following, six following,” etc., until the last one announced “all clear” or “clear line.” It made quite a caravan and was loads of fun.

Return to Table of Contents