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Marbles: 1940

Marbles: 1940

May 1940. "Boys playing marbles. Woodbine, Iowa." 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Marbles in 1947

In Farmington, Michigan, in 1947, rarest marbles were the crystal-clear ones in various colors - we called them "peeries," and any large-size marbles were called "boulders." A peerie boulder was the most valued marble of all. You could win one by making a tough shot - say shooting between two marbles, spaced an inch apart, at a distance and hitting the target marble behind them. At recess, we'd try our skill at various such challenges which were set up on the ground, side-by-side, like the midway at a carnival.


I missed out on the marbles generation(s), but sure loved Skully. I-am-the-killer-diller-of-this-game!

Re: Steelies

Steelies were a no no. You could not use them. If you tried it was bad news for you.


I remember my older brother used "Steelies or Ball Bearings" and would crack my marbles or chip them so bad that you couldn't use anymore. Those were the days.

Re: My Brother, The Champion

In our neigborhood the big marbles were called "Log Rollers".

I Remember

We played in Brooklyn, NY as late as the early seventies.

My Brother, The Champion

I remember being very proud of my brother because he was the best marble player in our school. I remember they used to draw a circle (girls weren't allowed to play). There were certain marbles that were more valuable than others. There were also some big ones called Aggies, I think.

Now banned

Wow, I spent so many recess and lunch periods playing marbles as a kid back in the 70's. It was THE schoolyard game. We played the "polish" version, though to us that was the only game we knew.

Imagine my dismay when I found out that marbles have now been banned from school yards around here as some teachers view it as "gambling;" how sad is it that kids will never know the rush of winning his opponents marbles or the disappointment of losing his.

For funsies or for keeps

This picture brought the memories flooding back since it was a common pastime when I was a kid. Every kid knew exactly what marbles were his and when we did not want to lose any, we would play for "funsies" which meant when the game was over, we each took all ours back. Playing for keeps was serious business and losing a favorite marble was a personal tragedy. Sometimes you could win that coveted one back in a future session. We also played what we called a "Polish" version of marbles (it was my yard and I'm Polish) wherein we had to shoot the marbles into a hole in the dirt with our fingers and the last one to get the last marble in would win the whole lot, a real bonanza. Those were great days.

Brings back memories

I spent many hours playing marbles and riding my bike as a youngster. Didn't have to worry about some slug coming around trying to sell us dope and junk back then. Times were a lot more carefree for a kid.

Lost My Marbles

Good marble players only bought marbles one time. You could tell a good shooter by the way he aimed and addressed the circle. In my neighborhood we had two or three that would need to keep a sock attached to their belt to hold the marbles that they knocked out of the circle.

The Edge of Prosperity

In May 1940, Woodbine's future was bright; it was the centerpiece of Iowa's apple-growing business (then second in the nation), and was bisected by the nation's best-known transcontinental route (the Lincoln Highway, US 30). Six months later a severe storm known as the Armistice Day Blizzard devastated Iowa's orchards. Arriving in the warmth of fall, before tender new growth in the apple trees had a chance to "harden off," the blizzard blackened and killed all but the oldest trees. Highway 30 would bypass downtown Woodbine on the east, and Interstate 80 would bypass US 30 on the south, but the bricked-streets of the old Lincoln Highway remain preserved on County Highway L16 (and Lincoln Way Street) in Woodbine. Woodbine's annual Applefest survives.

Playing marbles on Memory Lane

Wow does this bring back some memories, for many of us I would imagine. I wonder if anyone can identify the make of that bicycle.

Dubs, aggies

clunkers, cats eyes, and I've forgotten the other 50 names for marbles, do children play marbles any more?

Looking Back

Move this picture's date up 10 years and place it in a Deep South state, and that could be me on the bicycle. In fact, I had a bike and a jacket just like the boy on the right. And I did play marbles.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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