Street Play - Games Children Played in the Streets during the late 50's and early 60's

List of Games that I remember playing outside in the street in the late 50's.   Further  down I explain how we made some of the toys ourselves and the manner of how we played with them for hours on end.

 String and Paper Galleys (Sheeny) representing the Galleons of the Knights (how-to method below)

Selling paper craft for pins (Affarijiet ta' Londra)made out of school copybooks after school had closed for the Summer Holidys.

Making Paper Bombs on St. George's Feast Day (from material as above)

Playing at Horses. Stamping along with empty milk cans squashed tightly to our shoes

Knitting long laces using surplus coloured wool to play at Horses with

Collecting bottle tops

Collecting cigarette cases

Collecting Cards of Filmstars which we found in Chewing Gum Wrappers

Collecting Cards of Wild Animals and Birds and exchanging duplicates with other boys

Collecting Holy Pictures (Santi)

Playing with Clay which we got from a nearby field

Playing for pennies

Dressing up as Roman Soldiers using surplus tin strips which we got from a nearby Tomato Paste Factory,

Playing at Street Gangs

Playing at cops and robbers

Playing at switching Street corners (Daqqa Kantunieri)

Hide and Seek

Word Games, I know a Word beginning with G and ending with A

Playing with marbles (boys)

Playing with beads (girls)

Shooting at lizards with a sling (heartless)

Catching Butterflies, 6 kinds which we knew by name

Catching swallows with a sort of long whip (poor things)

Floating boats made out of Cactus in a nearby stream

Running around on a home-made scooter w ball-race wheels

Running around on a home-made wooden car pushed by another boy

Playing with simple tin or wooden toys

Playing at theatre

Telling stories

Camping under a piece of sacking and cooking tomatoes and eggs

Kite flying (View How-to Post)

Making feathered darts tipped with horse-shoe nails

Bows and arrows (quite dangerous)

Playing with a tractor or mower we made with a wooden bobbin and elastic

Building a stone Christmas Crib or with papier mache' (How-to Method.

Skipping Rope - played by girls

Hopscotch - in Maltese : Passju  The Photo is recent.  The game of Passju being revived.  Hopscotch was formerly a very popular game among girls in the StreetPlay scenario.

Constructing the Xini (Sheeny) A Toy Galleon of the Knights

Constructing the Xini (Sheeny) a Toy Galleon of the Knights

I lived with my good-aunt at her house a few doors away from my mother's.  I prefer to call her my good-aunt instead of my great-aunt in the same way that the French use the adjective 'belle' for their inlaws (belle-soeur).  She was 55 when I was 11 in the early 60's so to me she always seemed old.  She loved me more than my own mother if that is possible and I loved her too although I disobeyed quite often.  I was her 'son' and she lived her life for my sake (God bless her soul), to see me grow up good and healthy, to do well at school, to keep good company and for my overall well-being.

She liked to see me stay at home and play with things, that's why I was always improvising and trying out new things.  I had the run of the whole house which was quite big.  I played in the cellar which was large and dark with high stone arches like a prison or a dungeon, I played on the roof in the sun and in the open terraces lined with earthen flower-pots.  We also had a large garden with one corner fenced off where we kept a few chickens and a turkey or two.

One Saturday morning I was in the process of constructing a Xini (Sheeny) a rickety wooden toy representing a galley of the Knights of St. John.  I had all the materials at hand and a small back-saw, a hammer and some 1 inch nails and pincers.  The longest piece of wood was the keel, 1 inch square and about 4 feet long.  I started by fixing the axle and the handle to the keel one at each end.  These were simply 2 pieces of wood also 1 inch square about 10 inches in length.  To the axle I fixed the wheels, simply a wooden bobbin of thread sawn in two, by hammering a long nail through the hole of the bobbin into the axle.  Then I joined the axle and the handle by attaching 2 pieces of string one on each side, so that when the handle is turned the axle also turns in the same direction.   

 Sketch of Galley (bare-masted) without the decorations

The next step was to attach the cross beams to the keel, 3 pieces of wood 1 inch by 1/2 inch of about 2 feet in length by nailing them, one in the middle and the others 12 inches distant, one forward and the other aft.  Now for the masts, 3 lengths of wood 1 inch square, the main about 30 inches and the other 2 slightly less about 24 inches.  These I positioned just behind the cross-beams, the main in the centre and fixed them to the keel by driving a 2 inch nail through the underside of the keel into the foot of the masts.  The job was almost done.  I now had to strengthen the whole structure by tying each mast with string to both sides of its corresponding cross-beam and also to pass a string from one mast to the other and tie it to the keel fore and aft, like a forestay and backstay.  Finally I did the same to the cross-beams on both sides, joining them together and tying to the keel. 

And lastly the decorations.  I prepared some glue by mixing some flour with water.  I cut small strips of coloured kite paper and glued and twisted them to the string of my vessel until the string was hardly visible.  I tested the steering handle and went outside for the trial run.  I could not wait to take it out and anyway the glue would dry better the more I drove my galley around.  Outside I saw my friends Tony and Freddie who praised my skill at carpentry.  However Tony observed that the galley would have looked even better if I had fitted a yard in the middle of each mast.  And I agreed,  but there would always be a next time for young boys.