By Dan Beard
Game of Rolly Poly.
A much noisier and more active game is that of Rolly Poly. It is a game of
ball and can only be played in such parts of the city as still possess bare
earth, level and soft enough for the series of shallow holes necessary for the
There must be a hole for each player, and a common, hollow rubber ball or a
soft yarn ball covered with leather. On no account use a hard ball, as the game
is too rough for the use of a missile that can do injury when thrown with force.
First, with your heel make a number of holes about three feet apart and all
in a line, one hole for each boy in the game. When there is a shallow hole for
each boy let every boy stand by and guard his particular hollow, while the boy
at one end attempts to roll the ball slowly over the line of the holes, so that
it will rest in the hole at the extreme end in front of the lad at the opposite
end. In case the ball passes safely over, the player at the other end rolls it
back again in the same manner.
This cannot go on long before the ball stops in one of the holes. As soon as
this happens all the players except the one at the hole where the ball stops
scamper away for dear life, shouting, "Rolly Poly! Rolly Poly!" while
the remaining lad seizes the ball as quickly as possible and throws it (a New
York boy would say "fires it") with might and main at his nearest
If he fails to hit the fleeing mark all return to their places, and a
little piece of coal or stone, a "Rolly Poly," is put in the hole
lately occupied by the ball; but if he strikes the mark, the boy hit must
quickly pick up the ball and throw it at his nearest playmate, and a game of
"crackabout" ensues until someone makes a miss. As soon as this occurs
all return to their places, and the failure is marked by a "Rolly
Poly" placed in the hole belonging to the lad who failed, and the game of
rolling the ball is continued by the boys at the end holes. As soon as a boy
receives two "Rolly Polies" he is called "Rolly Poly half
The game goes on until some one player receives three Rolly Polies. As soon
as this occurs the culprit takes the ball, retires to a wall, fence, or tree,
and with his left hand and right foot resting against the tree, wall, or fence,
which he must face, he throws the ball over his shoulder as far as he can.
spot where it strikes the ground is marked by the other boys with a taw line,
and from this line each player in turn has the privilege of throwing the ball at
the unfortunate owner of three "Rolly Polies" who stands with his back
bent and his head resting against the wall.
This may appear hard on the unlucky "Rolly Poly" boy, but--and here
is the chance for which he is watching --every miss entitles the "Rolly
Poly" to a throw at the bad marksman. After each thrower has had three
shots at the culprit then the misses are called, and each in turn takes his
place at the stake and receives his punishment until all debts are paid.
One game will give to a crowd of boys sufficient exercise and harmless fun to
occupy the time between the close of school and tea-time. Then home you go,
glowing with health and good nature, to wash and dress for the evening meal.
Hat Ball! (Variation of Rolly Poly)