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From the Huntington Advertiser of Huntington, WV, we find the following story dated 13 January 1900:



“When I was a boy,” said J.L. Thornburg, “great attention was paid to spelling. A long string of youngsters would stand up, and the good spellers would turn the others down. The one who stood at the head of the class received, as a badge of honor, a silver dollar with a hole in it, through which was slipped a ribbon to wear about his neck. I stood next to the top when, for some misdemeanor, I was sent to the foot of the class, and sentenced to carry a stick of wood with me for an entire day. The spelling lesson that day had several breakers in it, but I was not distressed, as I could go no lower in the class. Finally a particularly hard orthographic nut was given to the wearer of the silver dollar. He failed, and one after another, the scholars missed the terrible word as it came down the line. I happened to know the word, spelled it, and with my badge of ignominy, the stick of wood, on my shoulder, went to the top of the class. That evening I wore the silver dollar home.”

“When I was a boy,” said Squire A.J. Miser, “there was a time in the year when all the boys, at the same time, would be seized with the desire to play marbles. Nobody could account for this simultaneous seizure. It appeared and disappeared like an epidemic. There was another epidemic that appeared much like marbles, ravaged the country and was gone for another twelve month. This was stilt-walking, and it was desperately contagious. Perhaps the most malignant form was ‘duck-legs.’ These were short stilts, the handles being sawed off so that they reached the boy’s knees, and from there to the foot-rests were strapped to the legs with rope or leather. It was no easy matter to take off one’s duck-legs when properly strapped on and cross-gartered, and many a time have I gone without dinner rather than take off my wooden pins, my mother having an old-fashioned prejudice running in favor of natural legs at meal time. On some occasion I escaped this maternal surveillance and succeeding in sleeping in my duck legs, to the great disturbance of the circulation off the blood. Heigh-ho! I haven’t seen a pair of duck-legs for forty years or more.”

“When I was a boy,” said Circuit Clerk R.W. McWilliams, a number of out door games, common at that time have long since passed away. One of these was bull pen. It was played by eight boys. Four stood, one at each corner of a rectangular square, and four in the center of the pen. The four on the corners passed the ball rapidly from one to the other, and when it was ‘warm’ the holder threw it at one of the victims in the center. When one in the pen picked up the ball the boys on the corners scattered, for the boys in the pen could then throw at the corner lads. It was a rough game and boys were often struck hard. This was in the early days of India rubber. The rubber shoes were made in South America in a crude way. An old rubber shoe was cut up into strings to make this ball; the strings were wound, covered with yarn and then covered with leather. There was a good deal of bounce in such a ball, and when it kissed a boy there was plenty of sting in it. Another game of that time was fox and hounds. One boy, as the fox, carried a horn. He was given about a hundred yards’ start of the hounds, who were to catch him. I have known such a race to last nearly all day.”