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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Anyone up for a game of marbles?

         

               


This week's prompt shows a group of Welsh boys playing marbles. I can well remember the many little groups of boys scattered around  the playground at Lyneham Primary School in the 1960s, intent on their marbles games, surrounded by knowing onlookers, or showing off their collections of beauties to anyone who cared to admire them, but it was a boy's game, and I don't think any girls played marbles, at least not at my school, where we favoured game of elastics, skipping, hopscotch or jacks. I certainly didn't know much if anything about all the different kinds of marbles or the ins and out of the game, and nor do I have any photographs of marble games in my family collection, so instead I found this image by Sam Hood, held in the online collection of the State Library of New South Wales. Another photograph by the prolific Mr Hood was featured recently in   Sepia Saturday #321.

Marbles always struck me as a game that required intense concentration, both by the participants and the spectators, and this photograph captures that intensity, even though we can only see the face of the player.  The photograph was taken at Stewart House at South Curl Curl Beach, which was and still is a school which aims to give underprivileged children from the outback, in this case country NSW, a chance to breathe the sea air and enjoy a healthy but educational holiday at the beach. It still exists, and you can read more about it here at https://www.stewarthouse.org.au/ . 
Quite coincidentally, Stewart House was the charity that our school supported through an annual fundraising appeal. I'm not sure now if our parents were simply asked to donate, or whether we were expected to do various tasks at home for which we earnt money that we then contributed to the school collection, but I think there was a competition to see which school House could raise the most money. Lyneham Primary School was located in Canberra, which in those days was more than a three hour drive from the beach, and there may very well have been children there who had never seen the sea, but for the most part we weren't poor or underprivileged, and with the encouragement of our teachers we felt happy to be helping children who were not so healthy and well off as we were.

TitleBoys playing marbles, Stewart House Preventorium, South Curl Curl
CreatorHood, Sam, 1872-1953
Call NumberHome and Away - 1599
Digital Order No.hood_01599
This image is from the collections of the State Library of NSW.









Above is my class photograph from  4th class 1962, and I'm sure there some of these boys were fine marble players. Our teacher Mr Clive Harvie was a jovial man whom we all liked, but I clearly remember him explaining to us all about the Cold War and the threatening situation that had arisen in the Bay of Pigs, which was a major world concern at that time. When I gave a short talk about my early school memories at a school assembly commemorating the 50th anniversary of the school in 2009, a couple of Mr Harvie's grandchildren were in the audience of current pupils, and their great aunt came up and thanked me afterwards for talking about him as one of my teachers, because sadly he suffered a major stroke many years earlier, and consequently his grandchildren had never known him in anything other than a comatose state.

 Thankfully Mr Harvie has now passed on, as have a few of my classmates, but the majority of us are still around, and in recent years we have had held some enjoyable reunions, although of course some are not interested in the slightest. I'll be having dinner with some old primary school friends in Canberra next week,including one of the girls in my class photograph, so perhaps I can ask them about their memories of marbles and of Stewart House.


I very much hope you still have all your marbles, but if you want more, simply flick over to Sepia Saturday #323 , where no doubt there will be lots of blogs about marbles of all kinds and perhaps other playground games.

15 comments:

  1. What a great class picture! Mr. Jarvis looks very vigorous in the photo...how sad his grandchildren didn't know him then. Have a pleasant stay in Canberra and Happy Easter to you too!

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  2. I like the expressions on some of the kids in your class photo.

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  3. 37 kids in the class. They were the times. I remember playing marbles but I was a tom boy .

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    1. There were probably two or three kids away that day as well.

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  4. Interesting, and the photos are perfect!

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  5. What lovely bright shiny sunny faces in your class photo. I just love the Sam Hood photo. What a brilliant choice for this week's theme. Note that he is the only boy in the photo wearing shoes but they don't look very robust do they?

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  6. Great class photo and memories of a good teacher. You followed the prompt to a T.

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  7. Both are great photos - the school photo in particular illustrates that smiles on the faces of children are universal.

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  8. Mr. Harvie was a rather nice-looking fellow. Did any of the girls in your class swoon a bit over him? The Bay of Pigs was somewhat of a debacle, but what was really scary was the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year (1962). I remember on my lunch break from work sitting at a table in a cafeteria, staring out the window & wondering what was going to happen?!!

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    1. Well it was 1962 so it was probably the Cuban Missile Crisis that was worrying Mr Harvie too. I was only 9 at the time, so i don't remember the details all that well.

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  9. My dad retained a remarkably accurate shooter thumb many, many years after he first learned marble skills at elementary school. It looks like everyone in your class photo was sharing a fun joke just as the photographer snapped the shutter.

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    1. Mr Harvie was full of jokes, so you could well be right. I'm one of the few resisting the urge to smile.

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  10. Both are lovely clear images and I like the fact that the marble player is wearing shoes, whilst the onlookers are barefoot - clearly he wasn't quite as underprivileged as they were.

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  11. Ah yes, the Bay of Pigs. I can remember sitting at my desk with Sammy Catalano watching the clock on the wall. The end of the world as we knew it was supposed to come at 10 am. The whole class was quiet. We were all waiting. And then it was 10:01, 10:02, 10:05, etc and we went on with our day having no idea what happened.

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  12. I wasn't a marble player either but loved jump rope, hopscotch, jacks, and pick up sticks.

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