Children’s Game – Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Children’s Game: Peggy

Peggy is a game that involves a wooden stick and a wooden paddle. The participant holds the wooden stick in one hand and the paddle in the other. The object of the game is to hit the stick with the paddle as far as possible, and the winner is the person who hits the stick the furthest.

Bruce learned this game in the 1930s when he was growing up. He was born in 1921, so this was during his youth. He lived in Bridgewater, Massachusetts during this time and learned the game from the kids in the neighborhood. Many of these kids were immigrants as during the 1920s and 1930s, many immigrants lived in working class (blue-collar) neighborhoods, such as Bridgewater, in New England. Even though he is Polish, he said he did not learn this game from Poland, as he moved to the U.S. when he was one year old. He said that this game was one of a few games that he played with the kids in the neighborhood; the other games he played were “Kick the Can” and “Spin the Bottle.” Since there was no TV and radio was just starting up, the kids played games for entertainment. This game was one of Bruce’s favorites. Since playing games was the children’s entertainment, it meant a lot when they were able to go out and play Peggy as it provided a lot of enjoyment and was much better and more fun than doing chores or homework.

I don’t know the game’s origins, nor did Bruce, but it appears to be similar to a popular American game that stretches back to the mid 1800s, baseball. While there is no pitcher, and no fielders, the concept of using a wooden object to launch projectiles for distance reminds me of baseball.

Another interesting thing about Peggy is that it is a very cheap game to play; you don’t need a lot of materials to play the game. Since Bruce played this game at the height of the Great Depression, it is possible that this game was invented sometime earlier during the Depression as a way for the kids to have fun, since not many of them were rich or even had the money to buy a baseball bat, a glove or a baseball. It is very easy to find large broad wooden piece that could be fashioned into a paddle, as well as a wooden stick that could be used as the “Peg”.

I’m not quite sure about how the name “Peggy” came about either, as the game doesn’t involve hitting people with the stick, or pegging the stick onto something. I’m sure the kids didn’t mind it’s name however, they just wanted a game to play.

I don’t see this game being popular today. Many people are much more well-off, and can afford materials to play other games such as baseball or basketball. Also, the culture is very different, as many children today are entertained by video games and television rather than outdoor children’s games.