A game I played

The Compass - - OPINION -

For those who are in­ter­ested, Bill Clin­ton, from age eight un­til he was 14, played touch football, soft­ball, and hide and seek.

“When we didn’t have enough peo­ple to put to­gether a game of football or soft­ball, we would just make up a game,” he writes. “Ev­ery­thing we did be­came a game.”

As far as Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton is con­cerned, hers was an idyl­lic child­hood.

She states: “we had a well-or­ga­nized kids’ so­ci­ety and we had all kinds of games, play­ing hard ev­ery day af­ter school, ev­ery week­end, and from dawn un­til our par­ents made us come in at dark in the summertime.”

I’m dis­ap­pointed that my child­hood game didn’t make it into a book edited by Steven A. Co­hen, The Games we Played: A Cel­e­bra­tion of Child­hood and Imag­i­na­tion.

As a child liv­ing in the White Bay community of Ham­p­den, I too played games. One in par­tic­u­lar was tid­dly or, de­pend­ing on where you lived, tid­dley or tid­dly.

Folks in Car­bon­ear know all about the game, as the town is af­fec­tion­ately known as the Tid­dly Cap­i­tal of the World. Its fifth an­nual World Cup of Tid­dly was sched­uled for Aug. 5.

Dou­glas Ge­orge of Dildo sug­gests that tid­dly “was one of the more pop­u­lar New­found­land pas­times for both boys and girls. Rules var­ied from town to town and even from neigh­bour­hood to neigh­bour­hood; for that mat­ter, they could vary from day to day, just as long as ev­ery­body had fun!”

Per­haps the main rea­son tid­dly was such a big part of my child­hood is that the price is right. Sticks and stones may very well break your bones, but the only equip­ment need- ed for this game are, in ef­fect, sticks and stones or, more pre­cisely, two sticks and two rocks. One stick, called the big tid­dly, is about 4.5 feet long, while the other, called the lit­tle tid­dly, is about 20 inches long. Both are about two inches in di­am­e­ter. The play­ing rocks (or bricks or wood junks) are placed ap­prox­i­mately six inches apart.

Dou­glas Ge­orge pro­vides ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion about the sticks: “The best tid­dly sticks were those cut fresh or nearly so; black spruce was good. If the sticks were too dry, they would break more eas­ily, but if they were ‘green,’ they would not only be more sup­ple but heav­ier, thus al­low­ing you to get more wal­lop and, there­fore, more dis­tance. You wouldn’t use a broom han­dle, for ex­am­ple, be­cause it was too brit­tle and break­ing would cause it to splin­ter–you could lose an eye!”

If you are un­fa­mil­iar with the game, the rules are avail­able on the Town of Car­bon­ear’s web­site. Some purists list as many as 10 steps, but these can be whit­tled down to a mere four.

First, de­ter­mine which team is first “in” and which is in the out­field. Dou­glas Ge­orge ex­plains: “The big tid­dly is tossed ver­ti­cally into the air and grabbed by one of the cap­tains; both go hand-over-hand un­til one can­not grip the stick enough to hold its weight.”

Sec­ond, the hook off. The player lays the lit­tle tid­dly across the stones and, with the big tid­dly, hooks the lit­tle tid­dly off, send­ing it into the out­field.

Third, the bat off. The player stands at the stones, but with­out touch­ing them, and ei­ther tosses or holds the lit­tle tid­dly, hit­ting it into the out­field with the big tid­dly.

Fi­nally, the tid­dly it­self. The lit­tle tid­dly is placed up­right against one of the stones so the top of the stick is above the bricks. Hit the lit­tle tid­dly so that it spins up in the air away from the bricks and then hit it in the air into the out­field.

Clear as mud?

Ray­mond Troke is­sues this cau­tion: “If you de­cide to play this game, you should prob­a­bly wear your bike or hockey hel­met. All those whirling sticks could be dan­ger­ous, though I don’t re­mem­ber any prob­lems.”

Well, I do re­mem­ber prob­lems. On at least one oc­ca­sion, ei­ther the big or lit­tle tid­dly flew through the air be­fore crash­ing through one of the win­dows in the church my par­ents pa­s­tored. To para­phrase some­thing, which has been said about Queen Vic­to­ria, they were not amused.

Per­haps, at a time when com­put­ers, tele­vi­sion, pi­ano lessons, base­ball prac­tice and a host of other ac­tiv­i­ties com­pete for a child’s at­ten­tion, a game like tid­dly can, in the words of Steven Co­hen, re­mind us “of at least two things we all have in com­mon– the gift of imag­i­na­tion and the won­der of child­hood.” Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He can be reached


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