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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. II, No. 4, November 1946

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Vol. II, No. 4, November, 1946

Parker (“Paddy”) McGoff

BAY RIDGE and old South Brooklyn, as they sprawled side by side along the banks of New York Bay, come back to me in fond recollections — memories of happy times in what we old-timers truthfully recall as pioneer days. Bay Ridge had not yet annexed herself to the City of Brooklyn, and we youngsters living within it found great delight in roving over the trails of what we considered wild country in the town of New Utrecht which sheltered Bay Ridge.

South Brooklyn had a backwoods of its own where we could hunt and trap wildlife or fish in the many streams for silverfish and goldfish, but our love of prowls and pranks sent us out into our neighbors’s territory on — shall we say foraging expeditions?

Imagine our thrill of discovery as we stumbled upon a strawberry patch growing wild! Or join me in the pleasure I once more enjoy as I tingle to the thoughts of green fields, bright sunshine, clean fresh air, and the opportunity to bathe once more in the clear crystal waters that flowed through the Narrows leading out to the great Atlantic Ocean. It was in such settings that we youngsters played the games handed down to us, always adding a new wrinkle of our own, or inventing an entirely new game as the necessity drove us. For example: We changed the game of Duck on a Rock into Johnny Ride the Duck. In Duck on a Rock, the player being It would place his duck on a large boulder or tree stump in the playing area. The duck was a fair-sized, rounded stone, and the object was to knock the duck from its perch. The players hurled their ducks from a taw line drawn the required distance from the target, with the hope they would dislodge the sitting duck. Failure to do this compelled the hurler to retrieve his duck and get safely back to the taw line before being tagged by the chosen duck guardian. If unsuccessful, then his duck was made the target. We changed that game into Johnny Ride the Duck to help break up the monotony of a never too well liked trudge to school....

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