Rules of the game and "playing for keeps"; his father's skill at marbles
Keywords: Fathers and sons; Games; Marbles (Game objects); Marbles (Game)
Transcript: Sykes: And there's a lot to it, and I would imagine there was more than one game you could play.
Bond: Okay, that's what I wondered, do you remember more than one game?
Sykes: No, he and I would play on the rug, living room rug.
Bond: Rug, but you had this one circle that was maybe six feet in diameter and then a two— foot circle in the middle of it, and you started out with ten or twelve marbles in the space between the two circles?
Sykes: Yes, that's right.
Bond: Then the idea was to knock them into the inner ring?
Sykes: That's right, and hold it in there, and hold them in there.
Bond: And hold them in there, okay.
Sykes: That's right, that's the secret. That's the hardest part.
Bond: How long could one player keep shooting? If it was your turn?
Sykes: I don't know for the simple reason that we played both ways, each one would take a turn.
Bonds: Oh, you'd take a turn, okay.
Sykes: And the number you would accumulate would be to - well I guess till you ran out of marbles, the only thing I could say as far as the numbers.
Bonds: Okay. Did you — when you were outside the ring, did you stand up or kneel down on a knee when you played it? I mean to shoot marbles.
Sykes: I have to stop and think a moment about that.
Bonds: Oh sure.
Sykes: I think I rested on my knee, if I'm not...
Sykes: And — whether - I can't remember my father rested his knee or not. I know - another thing, I didn't have the force to shoot that marble that my father had, so it was the style or power in your fingers.
Bonds: Did people play for keeps, I mean if boys were playing, would one of them play for keeps?
Sykes: Oh yeah, they played — in his time they played for keeps.
Bonds: Did they play for keeps in your time?
Sykes: Well, he and I would just - did that for Sunday afternoon, or Sunday evening.
Bonds: Well, when your father was a boy, did they play this game out in the yard as well as inside?
Sykes: If they did, I didn't know about it, let's put it that way.
Bonds: Okay. This marble you used to shoot with, was there any way you would lose it, I mean could the other fellow win it from you?
Sykes: If they did, I didn't know about it. I would say that if you won, given a name, I would say it would be nibs N-I-B-S.
Bonds: Okay, nibs - hey, I remember that name I think.
Sykes: But I'm not positive, see this is a couple years back [laughs].
Bonds: [laughs] I realize that, closer to three years back isn't it?
Sykes: Yeah, and the thing I remember is my father's sister talking about the barrels he had of marbles.
Bond: Oh my goodness. Well did your father play — when he got all these barrels of marbles, was he still a boy or was he grown up?
Sykes: Oh no, he was a boy, always was a young'un, because I can remember my aunt, or his sister, talking about the force he had in shooting his marbles as well as the power he had in his fingers - that's the secret, part of the secret.
Bond: If you lost your Nibs or your shooter, whatever we call it, did you win it back, or was there any way you could lose it?
Sykes: I don't think so, no, it's the total marbles won or lost, as far as I can see. And you retained what you won.
Bond: Okay. Where did people keep marbles, did they just keep them in their pocket or a sack - you mentioned several barrels?
Sykes: In my case, my father's case, he'd have barrels.
Bond: What did the poorer players do?
Sykes: Well, I really don't know, honest, to answer you correctly I wouldn't say.
Sykes: But he must have had an awful power.
Bond: He must have had power and been a real talented fellow.
Sykes: Yeah, that's right.
Bond: Well let me see if I remember all these things - you said basically that you had an outer ring about six feet in diameter, maybe an inner ring at two feet in diameter...
Sykes: That's right.
Bond: And you'd put ten or twelve marbles in the space between them and then the idea is you probably kneel down and try to shoot from the outer ring to the inner ring.
Sykes: That's right.
Bond: And these marbles, if you had, say, ten marbles in the ring, were five of them yours and five of them your opponents?
Sykes: I would imagine, yes.
Bond: Okay, and so you were really shooting to get your opponent's ones in the middle ring, weren't you?
Sykes: Well [next words not audible] know what I'm talking about?
Sykes: Other than then the total marbles. You could play both ways if you choose to do that. In other words you had to knock his marbles out, the opponent's, or the total.
Bond: When you say "knock them out" you mean knock them out from the outer ring to the inner ring?
Sykes: That's right, yes, yes.
Bond: Normally did only two people play? I know you and your father were just two.
Sykes: I don't know whether more than two played at one time or not, I can't answer you.
Sykes: I hate to tell you about the material the marbles were made of, but I would say the only thing you could [audio cuts out]
Bond: [audio resumes]...they might know over here at Hagley for that matter.
Sykes: It may be here in Hagley, over at your place.
Bond: Okay, well thank you kindly for talking, Arthur, sure appreciate it.
Sykes: Oh, you're welcome, glad to help you.