Monday, March 10, 2008

The Argus Observes: At marbles, this ten-year-old was a master

By Don Lynch
From The Argus-Observer for March 12, 1953

If you were a straight laced, anti-gambling newspaper editor how would you deal with a son who demonstrates apparent skill at playing marbles for “keeps”?

Our ten-year-old heir to editorial ethics and responsibilities displays considerably more manual dexterity and physical coordination in those pudgy little hands than I ever possessed.

I can’t remember when he bought any marbles, although his mother says she thinks he bought a little sack of a dozen or so last year or the year before. Now he has a full quart of “migs” cached away in an old, soft, woman’s handbag.

The burden of this wealth rests lightly. He shrugs his shoulders and says, “Oh, I’ll give ‘em away to some kid when I get old.”

He carries other responsibilities with a debonair air, too. Just recently his mother tried to express to him the personal relationship involved in newspaper ownership. She said, “Along with the other people who work there, we are the Argus-Observer.”

His reply: “Chug, chug, chug. I’ll be the press.”

My father sternly forbade me to play marbles for “keeps” when I was a kid. Perhaps this was because he was the grade school principal and it was traditionally forbidden to play “keeps” on the school ground.

However, times changed and in his final years of teaching he softened toward the growing trend of playing marbles for “keeps.”

It was easy to persuade me not to play “keeps,” because I couldn’t win anyhow. I just couldn’t hit ‘em.

Our marble player has either inherited skills from his mother’s side or else his aptitudes are the product of genes that skipped over my generation. At any rate he brings home another pocket full of marbles almost every afternoon in this annual season of the”dates-up.”

So far I haven’t reprimanded the marble player. He seems to be following the accepted rules of his society. His manner has the innocent air of a perfectly clear conscience. I don’t think I’ll disturb that innocence.

(Editor’s note: In a recent discussion of how this was accomplished, now law-school dean Dennis Lynch explained that his success was helped by raising his shooting hand enough above the dirt to be able to fire his marble above ground and not be knocked off target by a rough spot. Of course, this explanation does not entirely account for the accuracy of the shot, even if it was airborne.)

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