Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pitching Pennies

This is the first form of gambling a young South Philly kid was introduced to, besides Uncle Giuseppe betting the ponies at the local bar.  Pitching pennies was a favorite pastime and kids would save their lunch and chore money to play.

The first step to pitching pennies would be to find a nice open wall with a smooth pavement.  The game was played by pitching (or throwing underhand) your penny towards a wall one player per round.  The person with their penny closest to the wall got to keep all the pennies that were pitched.  A leaner was almost a guarenteed win, unless some smart ass knocked your penny down or got a leaner which was higher up the wall.  A leaner was a penny that leaned against the wall while standing on the pavement.

As I was growing up we played with nickels and even quarters.  By the time the 80's rolled around,  you could not get anything for a penny anymore!

Hide The Strap

Hide the strap may have been a little before my time, but talking to the old-heads (older folks in the neighborhood) gave me great insight to how hide the strap was played.

The game was played similar to hide and seek, but with a twist.  A strap or belt was hidden somewhere in a predetermined  neighborhood (ex. from 8th to 9th, Jackson to Wolf).  One of the kids was chosen to be it.  How they were chosen can be anywhere from a shootout, rock paper scissors or even age.  Whoever was it had to find the strap.  Once they found the strap then they had to find the other players.  When they found a player they can hit or swat them until they reached and tagged home base.  Home base could be a persons step, a telephone pole or whatever else a young childs imagination could come up with.

Submit an Article

We are always looking for other peoples thoughts about growing up in South Philly. If you grew up in South Philly, at any time, and would like to submit an article about your experiences please feel free. We would LOVE to hear your stories!

We are interested in anything that you would like to share including:
  • The games you played.
  • The food you ate (either cooked at home or a local eatery)
  • Any special traditions.

ANYTHING THAT REMINDS YOU OF SOUTH PHILLY!! We hope to hear from you soon.

You can now submit an article or an idea for an article by using the form on the right column.  Please include your information (Name and Email Address) if you would like to receive credit for the submission.

If you would like to remain anonymous that is fine, we wont check if your using a real name or email address! ;)


Buck-Buck was a fun and sometimes painful game we played for hours on end in Key School Yard (Francis Scott Key School on 8th & Wolf Streets).  The game was played by one person being the wall cushion or anchor.  The first person of the defending team would bend over and hold onto the anchors midsection.  The next person bent over and held onto the first persons waist leaning on their back.  Depending on how many people you had you would create a chain in this manner.  We usually played with 8-10 people.

Then the fun was to begin...

A person from the other team would come running full speed and yell out "Buck-Buck number one is coming", then leapfrog onto the backs of the other team.  He then slid up as close as he could to the anchor so there was plenty of room for Buck-Buck numbers 2-5.  This went on until either all members were on the backs of the human chain or the chain collapsed.

If the chain did not collapse,  the captain of the chain gang (team bent over on the bottom) had to guess how many fingers were held up by the other teams captain.  He had three tries, and if he guessed correctly the teams would reverse sides and then the chain was formed by the team now on top.  If the answers were incorrect or if the chain collapsed the same team created another chain and the game started over from the beginning.