1994 - Volume #18, Issue #4, Page #20[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Marble Lady Teaches Old-Time Game To KidsCathy Runyan is on a mission to wean the younger generation off TV and electronic video games and get them back down into the dirt - playing marbles the way she did as a child.
The "Marble Lady", as she's known, has taken it upon herself to teach the old-fashioned game of marbles to a whole new generation of kids across the U.S. The Kansas City, Mo., marble collector gives talks to young students at schools, clubs and churches, and often hands out free bags of marbles (she has a personal collection of over half a million marbles). She also makes presentations to under-privileged youngsters at inner-city schools.
"Many kids today don't know the slightest thing about the game which gave so much joy to earlier generations. I'm trying to change that," says Runyan. "Anyone can play marbles and it doesn't require a lot of money. For $1 you can buy a bag of marbles. It doesn't matter if you're tall or short, fast or slow, girl or boy, and you can play just about anywhere. Many schools are now adding marble playing areas to their play-grounds, using dirt or concrete pads with lines laid into them. Marbles can be a great family game, too, because it gets everyone involved."
Besides teaching children how to play, Runyan also visits retirement centers and nursing homes. "Older folks' eyes just sparkle when they see marbles and remember fun childhood games."
Runyan serves as a referee at the annual National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, New Jersey, and participates in an annual national tournament in Tennessee each September. She also does appraisals of marbles for insurance or selling purposes. She's now doing research on the U.S. and world history of marbles.
She learned the game from her grandfather. "The boys in our neighborhood wouldn't let me play in their ball games. Then one day my grandpa gave me a bag of really good marbles and taught me how to play. I whipped their tails."
Runyan grew up, got married, and had five children. One day she got her marble collection out of storage to show her children. She was surprised to discover that none of them had ever played marbles, and that she had forgotten many of the games. She did a lot of research at libraries but couldn't find any books on how to play. That's when she decided to write a book.
First she talked to older folks who'd grown up playing marbles, asking them about the games they'd played as youngsters. Eventually she documented more than 30 different games, including "Picking The Plums", "Pyramids", "Ringer", "Potsies", and many others.
Her book, "Knuckles Down! A Fun Guide to Marble Play", sells for $7.
Contact FARM SHOW Followup, Cathy C. Runyan , 7812 N.W. Hampton Rd., Kansas City, Mo. 64152 (ph 816 587-8687).
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