Children’s Game: Cars

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from an interview between the informant and the interviewer. “A” refers to the informant and “B” the interviewer.

A: “We used to play a lot of games when were kids. Did [my sister] tell you about the game with the cars?”

B: “No.”

A: “What we would do is we would sit on the porch, and there were a lot of kids in our neighborhood and we all grew up together. So, like, as your sitting on the porch the next car that comes down the street would be your car. Okay, so it might be a nice car. It might be a clunker, you know? So you didn’t really want it to be a clunker, but yeah. And you couldn’t like back out of it. So if it’s your turn, the next car would be yours. So, we would all do that until we all had a car. For that day, you had a nice car if it was a nice car. If it was a piece of crap then you had a piece of crap for that day.”


I collected this piece of folklore in an over-the-phone interview. The informant, my uncle, used to play this game when he was a kid growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his neighborhood friends would play this game while they were in elementary school, and then they grew out of it. He is African American.

My Thoughts:

This game shows how kids fantasized about a certain right of passage, driving and owning a car. In this game, kids got to experiment with how their lives may be when they grow older and what kind of car they may have as a symbol of success. If a kid got a nice car, then he could boast about the kind of car he has with the money and accomplishments that could probably come with it. A “clunker” would be like a projection of an unsuccessful future. This game was ultimately an outlet for kids to think about their future and a way to showcase how cars are connected to one’s success.