I confess that my fine motor skills left much to be desired. I never perfected penmanship, for instance, and continually received “needs improvement” on my report cards in that category. Three of the games we liked to play indoors, pictured above, were jacks, pick up sticks and tiddlywinks. I have written a little about the first two a while back, but include them again remembering the challenges they presented to my lack of manual dexterity.
Jacks seemed simple enough. We made a circle on the hardwood floor with a piece of string marking the boundary for the game. Then taking turns, we bounced the ball and took in sequence one jack, then two jacks, and so forth until we could scoop up all the jacks on one bounce. Simple, right? Well there were four of us siblings and we never missed an opportunity for mayhem. The ball would bounce into someone. That someone would start yelling or worse still crying. Jacks would go flying. One or more of us would stomp off, ending the game. I never completed a game of jacks at home, only with a friend at school.
Pick up sticks was also simple to play in theory. Players could remove sticks without any of the others moving. Their turn ended when a stick moved while moving the target stick. What could go wrong? Well, our father was an attorney, so we were well schooled in argument. Needless to say no one could agree whether a stick had moved or not. The player insisted she had removed a stick without a problem. Some other kid would insist “I saw that one move!!!” Also the sticks had pointed ends, supposedly to allow intricate maneuvers. Unfortunately, the sticks had pointed ends. Enough said.
Tiddlywinks required the player to use one large plastic disc to snap little ones into a cup. While some versions of this game had a box with various scores on it, we played with just the cup. If we had owned the fancier version, it must have been destroyed early on. All four of us were hopeless at this game. Our success matched that of rigged carnival games. Discs flew willy-nilly around the room. We dissolved in gales of laughter. Even today, saying the word “tiddlywinks,” I smile thinking of those rainy afternoons indoors.