Nationality: United States
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 29APR2015
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): None
This informant is a sophomore at USC in the Naval ROTC program. She grew up in Pennsylvania in a middle class family. As a child she enjoyed all things sci-fi and fantasy, and in high school she developed a passion for the military in JROTC.
“When I was little there was this game we played called “4 square”. This was played using a large square that was divided into four smaller squares which were painted on the blacktop of the the recess area, and a ball that could bounce. A red rubber ball was preferable, but anything that was kickball sized and could bounce would work. You basically take turns bouncing the ball to each others squares. The basic rules were that if the ball bounced in your square, you had to touch it and hit it to another square. Each square had a different position, meaning one square was for the king, and the opposite square was the peasant. If you didn’t reach the ball after it hit your square, or you violated any other rules, you would be forced to go down to the peasant square and all the others would move up a level if it was vacant. The king could make up any rules they wanted to. This could mean rules like, clockwise only, or cherry bombs only (cherry bombs being where you slam the ball down on the others square as hard as possible and if they caught it you had to go back to the peasants space. Rules could be anything we could make up and this pretty much made up the entirety of my elementary school experience.”
Though the game is actually an official game, children have been they want to it for decades. In the case of this informant, this shows just how ingenious and complex children can think, taking something taught to them, presumably by gym teachers or other children, with a basic framework, and then completely restructuring it to play how they want to. The amazing thing about the way children have spread this game is that there are unofficial rules that have circulated among children to being solid well known rules. I distinctly playing this as a kid myself, cherry bombs and all. The fact that such rules were known to two kids over a thousand miles away is astounding.