Simple Amusements, Part Five – Pitching Pennies


            Once, while walking home down 93rd Street, I passed a group of men standing in front of Woodlawn Gardens.  They were playing a game on the sidewalk.  Naturally, I stopped to watch.  Each of  the men had a handful of pennies.  The sidewalks are five feet wide and have a groove every five feet.  The object of this game is to ‘lag’ or toss a penny to land on a designated line.  A player stands behind one line, usually with the side of his foot just touching the groove.  He holds the penny by its edges to keep it flat. Then, he tosses the penny. The best toss makes the coin fly like a saucer, and land flat.  The penny that lands closest to the line wins the round.  They played the games in sets of five or ten. To end the game, a player had to win three of the five games in the set.  It didn’t take long before all the boys on Avalon, Woodlawn, 93rd Street, Kimbark and all the other streets were playing “lag the penny.”  We even played during recess and lunch.  Just like in marbles, the same cliques of boys played together. It became a challenge for me to break into a game with the big guys in the sport.

Occasionally, we played for ‘keeps.’  In those games the winner got to keep the loser’s penny.