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And Then This Time at Scout Camp: 1917

July 16, 1917. An exciting game of "mumble-the-peg" at scout camp outside New York City. George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

July 16, 1917. An exciting game of "mumble-the-peg" at scout camp outside New York City. George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


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I see one boy wearing what looks like the chevrons of a corporal, and another with those of a sergeant. Was this used as some sort of scout insignia at the time? I am unfamiliar with that.

What were our parents thinking?

"Jarts," Mumbly-Peg" ... Train tickets pinned onto children and a tip given to the porter to "watch" them ... Swimming in the river (or gravel pit) ... "Kick-the-can" at dusk on the city's streets ... Walking to school in the snow and rain.

It's a wonder any of us survived!

I'm just kidding of course, but our children seem to be "connected" (via TV, computers, etc) and time-programmed waay to much nowadays!

Funny, I never claimed I was "bored." Probably because I knew that Mum or Dad would find chores for me to do!


Wow, I also used to play that game as a Scout when I was a kid! That picture just brought back so many memories.

Now that I am a Scoutmaster though I'm afraid there is no way I could allow my kids to play that game... (I guess I'll just have to play with my fellow leaders away from the kids at the next camp!!!)

I love how their leader is probably looking at them play (leg of tall figure visible on the extreme right).


Me too!

We used to play it as well being kids. I'm from Russia. Surely boys are not that much obsessed with "health and safety" even now. Thank you for all these great images of old time that bring a lot of memories and make me sad in some way... OK, not too much sad - I'm only forty.


We still played this unsafe game when I was a scout not more than 25 years ago. Of course we had to do it away from camp, otherwise the Scoutmaster would take away the knife, take a corner off of your "totin' chip" and give the knife back to your father when you got home and tell him what you had been caught doing.

Signet ring

Seen the boy wearing a signet ring? Not that normal for a Boy Scout of his age I would think.

[I had one when I was a kid. Family heirloom from the 1860s. - Dave]

On the Nature of the Mumble

According to the American Heritage dictionary:

From the phrase mumble the peg, from the fact that originally the loser had to pull up with the teeth a peg driven into the ground.

I suppose it doesn't really need to make sense.

Mumble, Mumbly

I used to play Mumbly-Peg as a child. Never heard it called "Mumble the Peg." Hadn't thought of that game in over 50 years. I'm trying to remember all the starting points. If memory serves, you flipped the knife first from each finger tip, then progressed to wrist, elbow, shoulder, chin, nose, etc. It got progressively more difficult.


We knew this as Mumbly-Peg. The trick is to get the pocket knife to land blade in-ground from different starting points, with different flips and fancy twists or even bouncing the handle end off a body part. My grandfather taught me this when I was about 7 or 8. My mother stopped it promptly. Just as well, I wasn't any good at it.

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