NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. II, No. 4, November, 1946
SCENES OF MY CHILDHOOD
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
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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