Games From the Good Ol’ Days

I love to go to family gatherings and get the old folks to telling stories. And when I say “old folks”, I mean that with all the respect in the world. Underneath those gray hairs is a wealth of wisdom and experience, and I have always felt if I can learn from their experience, I may be able to avoid certain courses in the “school of hard knocks”.

ย At a recent family get-together, the elder statesman of our family, Ausmus Betts, started telling me about a game he used to play when he was a boy called “root peg”. I knew about marbles, hoops, and had heard of “mumblety peg” but I didn’t know how to play it. Ausmus said that root peg was similar to mumblety peg.

ย The game was played with pocket knives (standard equipment in a country boy’s pocket) and, of course, a little peg. They would drive the peg almost all the way into the ground and then take turns trying to throw their knives and stick them in the ground. They would use a variety of trick throwing motions and positions. If one player was able to stick his knife in the ground and the other one wasn’t, the loser would have to get down on his hands and knees and “root the peg” out of the ground using his nose and his teeth.

According to Ausmus, this led to some dirty faces for some.

I found this fascinating and wanted to pass it along to you. Have any of you ever played this? How about other games you may have played as a child?

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32 responses to “Games From the Good Ol’ Days

  1. I played a good bit of mumblety peg – it’s a wonder my brother and I both still have all nine toes. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I never heard of root peg, but when I was in middle school and recess and sharp objects were still an allowable part of our day, we played a game during recess that we called “Stretch”.

    It involved throwing your pencil to make it stick in the ground (I think knives would have been easier, though).

    You stood facing each other, and kept one foot stationary on the ground. If you got your pencil to stick in the ground, the other person had to stretch their other leg to where your pencil was.

    The object, of course, was to stick your pencil far enough away from them that they couldn’t stretch that far without falling down.

    • Root the Peg. yes, we would take (of all things) a butter-knife, and take turns flipping it into the dirt, doing different tricks, fliping it off the elbow, off the sholder, off the wrist, imagine horse in basketball only with a butter-knife.
      The consequence of course, if you could not make the knife stick, you had to โ€œroot the pegโ€ the knife would be placed into the dirt and each player would take a turn and pound it deep into the ground. According to the number of players you would have that many digs with your hands, and that many blows of breath to clean the knife and the area around it before โ€œrootingโ€ it out with your teeth. Days after the rain were the worst. We sure had fun, laughing at each other, kids with dirty faces.

  3. Misawa, I’m glad that most of your toes survived.

    Steve, dude! I had forgotten about playing stretch. We used to play that with pocket knives. Of course some people (I won’t say who) thought it was funny to get you all stretched out and then throw it between your feet! That added an extra twist to the game.

  4. “The loser would have to get down on his hands and knees and ‘root the peg’ out of the ground using his nose and his teeth.” What happened to boys being boys and getting really dirty? I miss those days. I don’t think I’ve every rooted a peg out of the ground with my nose and teeth, but I’ve come close. I think I might teach my son this game.

    -Alan

  5. Alan I agree with you about what happened to boys being boys and getting dirty! All of my cousins and me used to enjoy the wash tubs that was filled up with rain water from the eves of the house! That just added more fun that day? Yes we played stretch with pocket knives { standard equipment for boys back then } as Gordon said ! But we had to sneak around because one of my cousins got mad one day and stuck his knife in another cousins foot and no more fun then! Them long wild peach tree switches talked purty loud back in them days ! They was always something for us boys to do and entertain our selves ! To many to mention here ? Here’s to them good old days ! RON.

  6. Alan, I’m with you, brother. We need to teach our boys to be boys.

    Bro. Ron, I figured you would know what I was talking about! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I remember , my brothers doing that , and playing burnout ;)!

    it has been a short 10 weeks, got a new post!
    and thank you!

    have a great day!

  8. We played some similar games when I was young. If I remember right, one of them was called “Chicken Fingers.” It would be played by spreading your hand out on a wooden surface, with fingers as far apart as possible, and having another person drop a pocket knife point down from about a foot above the surface, and try to get it land between your fingers and stick into the wood. If you chickened out and moved your hand, you were the loser. I really can’t remember what the punishment was for having chicken fingers, but I’m sure it made us question whether or not to move our hands.

  9. OK, Janice, you are going to have to give us a description of “burnout”. How do you play that?

    Danny, “Chicken Fingers” sounds like a game where you play for keeps. It would take nerves of steel not to yank your hand back.

  10. That mite not be the name for it , it could have be punch out, you would start punching each other in the arm, and each time you did it, the
    harder you would punch, the longer you went your arm would start to burn, :p

  11. Ahhh, now I know what you are talking about. Thanks for sharing.

  12. just thought of this one ,

    did many one play the hand slapping game,
    where , one person would put their hands down on a other’s hand, and you would try to move your hands before the other could slap them.
    that was always a fun one ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. You “nice” kids really remind me how awful I was as a youth. We played “ckicken” with two guys placing one arm against the others and dropping a burning cigarette in between. The first to move his arm was a chicken. I could tell you how best to do it but why oh why???

    The sad thing is that’s one of the few “games” I could even mention here. Needless to say I don’t long for the old days. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    BTW our knives were for protection and intimidation.

  14. Janice, I have played that one as well.

    KC, whatever you may have been in your youth, you have turned out to be a fine Christian brother.

  15. KC did you ever tie your tomcat’s tail and your cousins tomcat’s tail together and hang them over the clothes line to see which one was the toughest ? Janice we did that game to but we also did another similer game by putting a quarter in your hand and them slapping the hand to see if you was quick enough to take the quarter out of your partners hand ! DK we played that game just a little different also since they monitored our knives . We took a tobacco stick and cut it in 12 inch links and put a 2 inch finish nail and then dropped it between the fingers ? KC we practiced the cigerette game but we always rolled our own from the tobacco in the pack house with brown paper bags and sneak behind the tractor shed and practice untill one day the grown folks was sitting on the porch and seen the smoke coming up behind the tractor shed ? Then another terrible nightmare went through our head as we made the trip to get one of them wild peachtree switches? This post is making me remember them good old days ? Blessings. RON.

  16. I thought I was reared poor and country, but I must have been better off than I thought. At least we could afford a ball and bat.

    I had a cousin who would come over sometimes . He always wanted to play something like mumbly peg(that’s how he pronounced it) or some pretend game. I said “Shut up, take this ball and throw it to me and I’ll hit it with this bat.”

    Maybe that’s why I grew up with no imagination.

  17. I’ve never hear of Root Peg but I can see how it would be great fun for kids — especially kids who weren’t spoiled on video games and DVD’s. Good story — thanks for sharing.

  18. What about the game where you shoot your brother in the stomach with a BB gun? Or launch fireworks at each other from across the yard?

    I don’t recall the name of that one (maybe Stupidity?), but they sure were fun!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Being a girl I wasn’t given a pocket knife to play with, but we sure tied on to June Bugs for flying pets on a string.

  20. now that was fun, playing with june bugs,

    Ros, did you ever play with a button on a string , My Granny would make one up for me , and I would play with that for hours, it was fun being a kid back when!

  21. Ya’ll making my senoir moments disappear , making old memories come back! Cameron when I was 7 years old I stacked peanuts on the old fashioned peanut poles for a week {at childs pay back then, 2 dollars a day } to buy me a brand new daisy bb rifle on saturday afternoon when we went to town ! On the following monday mom come home from work to find I accidently shot my younger sister in the stomach! She took my new air rifle and tried to beat the old pecan tree down with it and broke it in 2 pieces .{ I was heartbroken? }. Oh and them fire works were fun to. My uncle lived up the road about a quarter of a mile and his new bull he just bought for 700.00 dollars kept jumping the fence to come down to my Grandaddy’s cows and they told us to run him back home. We tied a syrup can to his tail and put m 80′ and cherry bombs and tied fuses together and lit them and sent him on his way and when he started to jump fence to get back in he had a heart attack and died! Needless to say I believed the GOOD LORD kept those wild peach trees growing just for us 12 grandboys that lived in a 5 mile radius of my Grandaddy’s house? If you could have seen us boys you would say we grew peppermint striped legs back them days ? Garry we had to use boards for our bats and bailing twine wrapped tightly with pine tar to make us a ball! ROS we also caught fureflys and put them in a fruit jar . The more you caught the brighter your jar was ! We wasn’t mean back then just mischevious little lovable youngun’s ? Blessings . RON.

  22. Wow, I’ve been gone all day and haven’t had a chance to blog until now. There’s a lot of memories being shared here. I appreciate everyone participating.

    Cameron, all I’m saying is that it’s better to get shot in the stomach by a BB gun than to get shot in the leg by a shotgun.

  23. I know that boys need to be boys, but the Mom in me is freaking out over all these gun and pocketknife games!

    Maybe that’s why the Lord gave me four daughters and only one son rather than the four sons I had imagined myself having.

    How did anyone survive childhood?!

  24. How did anyone survive childhood?!

    Trish, that very same thought occurred to me as I read back over some of these tonight! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think the answer must be “guardian angels”.

  25. I’m comment #25. Who would have thought that this post would be one of your more commented-on posts, huh, Gordon? ๐Ÿ˜‰ How funny!

    Some of us bloggers try very hard to come up with deep, thought-provoking, life-changing posts, and you pop up with something about a piece of wood stuck in the ground, and BOOM….25 comments! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. Steve, that is remarkable, but it still hasn’t beat the 48 comments on whether the glass is half full or half empty. ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. In reading some of the other blogs and comments I had learned another big word { INTROSPECTIVE } and I been trying to make good use of my new word so I would’nt forget it ! Another game we played was a foot racing game where you took 2 empty cans and stomped in the middle of can and it would mould to your shoe and then race to a line drawed in the dirt! We would bet on who was going to win . We didn’t have any money no bigger than a nickel cause we were only rich in love! Blessings . RON.

  28. We used to play “Bloodsport”
    dont try this at home kids!

    Number of players:
    2

    Resources:
    Smooth table top.
    Coin.

    Play:
    Take turns flicking a spinning coin and whoever knocked it over placed their fist, knuckles down on the table top.

    The other player then slides the coin as fast as possible at the exposed knuckles on the tabletop.

    Winner:
    Whoever does not bleed onto the table is the winner.

    MDM

  29. As I sit and read these comments I know that there should be more comments on different games ! When I grew up us boys created our games . I know that all the little guys played cowboys and indians ? We created what we called a popgun by cutting a piece of a limb off an elderberry tree which had a cork like center and cleaned that out? Then we took a piece of tobacco stick long as the piece of elderberry wood and whittled it down to fit hole? Then take green china berrys and prime the end of the hole in elderberry wood and then shoot it at each other? I have seen it draw blisters at 30 feet ? We also whittled toy guns out of boards to play with ? Blessings RON.

  30. I must say this has been enjoyable thus far. I can’t help but wonder how well-adjusted we all would be if we had grown up with Playstations and Gameboys instead of sticks and knives.

    MDM, its great to see you back. Hope you had a restful holiday.

  31. Root the Peg. yes, we would take (of all things) a butter-knife, and take turns flipping it into the dirt, doing different tricks, fliping it off the elbow, off the sholder, off the wrist, imagine horse in basketball only with a butter-knife.
    The consequence of course, if you could not make the knife stick, you had to “root the peg” the knife would be placed into the dirt and each player would take a turn and pound it deep into the ground. According to the number of players you would have that many digs with your hands, and that many blows of breath to clean the knife and the area around it before “rooting” it out with your teeth. Days after the rain were the worst. We sure had fun, laughing at each other, kids with dirty faces.

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