Today it was amazingly hot at the creek. There was hardly even the slightest breath of air, and the parched ground seemed as though it would burn through the soles of my work boots. Even standing perfectly still, a gentle glistening broke out across my arms.

I remembered back to the hot city sidewalks of my childhood. I remember holding out my hands, palms down, and feeling the heat rising from the cement pavers on a late summer afternoon. When I stepped off of the sidewalk’s curb and onto the black asphalt, I remember the softened tar actually squishing under my footsteps. I actually wondered if my Keds would catch fire as I felt the heat rising up through their soles. When I walked down the sidewalk, I would try to step on the lighter-colored pavement squares.

Our father had taught us that the lighter colors were perhaps not quite as hot as their darker counterparts. I remembered that we would walk down the front stoop steps and look for our friends who lived up and down the block. We would often play stoop ball, or four square, or stick ball out in the street, but in the real summertime heat, we would choose more sedate summertime games, such as marbles, or we would simply find a shady spot to sit and trade bubblegum cards.

Friends spotted, we would head their way, keeping an eye out for a shady spot to hunker down and play. The city streets all ran east to west, which meant that the summer sun beat down on the block all throughout the long summer days, and finding shade was not easy. Only a few spindly trees grew here and there, but we knew that they did offer a bit of shelter from the sun and made sitting or kneeling down on the hot cement a bit more bearable.

Our version of trading cards had evolved into a game over time. We would sail our cards, like miniature Frisbees, into the ring, and try to land on an opponent’s card, and so add that card to our collection. It did not matter the species of card – monster cards, baseball players and comic book characters were all allowed.

I kept my cards, roughly sorted, in a cardboard box under my bed, and always tucked a few into my back pocket when I went outside to play.

Sometimes we had chalk, but more often than not, we would simply find a pebble and etch a large circle on the cement sidewalk. The sidewalk was made up of marked squares, and we would draw our circles so that they were centered inside of four squares. When we played marbles, the eastern- and western-most edges of the squares marked our taw lines, the lines from which we first knuckled down with our shooters and aimed into the ring.

Marbles was my favorite hot weather game, though in cooler temperatures, I enjoyed four square and stoop ball. I still remember the smell of a new pink Spaulding, but to my mind, marbles was the perfect low sweat game. We would reach into our pockets and pull out our playing marbles, each player placing the same number of marbles in a cross pattern in the center of the circle. We usually played a quick round of rock-paper-scissors to determine the order of shooters. We knew that we could toss our shooters into the center of the circle and whoever came closest to dead center would play first, but we also knew that such tosses often shattered our prized orbs, so we found rock-paper-scissors to work just fine.

Then, it was time to knuckle down. This is far easier said than done, but all marble players know that when shooting, one knuckle must always rest on the ground. Hot knees and hot knuckles prevailed on our hot city sidewalks, but the hours until dinnertime always passed quickly and easily.

I also remember that on those hot summer days, we would always walk down the front stoop with more than just marbles or cards in our pockets. We would also make certain to have a handful of pennies, because if we were lucky, as we played, we would hear a jingling bell from down the street, and when we looked up, we would see the Good Humor man peddling his bicycle cart toward us.

Oh, the lovely feeling of the cold Popsicle on our tongues and the wonderful joy as the sticky colored ice dripped and made tracks down our dirty hands. Then, ice treats finished, we would hunker down again, and play some more, until our parents called us in for dinner. How much fun it would be to knuckle down for one more game with Robert, and his sister, Julia, and Donnie and the others, but the tenements where they once lived were torn down to make way for high rises, many, many years ago. I have no idea how to find them.

I wonder, though, if perhaps I might be able to convince Greg to put down his work tools and join me for just one quick game of summertime card toss or marbles. I may have lost my old trading cards, and I do not know how to find my childhood friends, but I do happen to know exactly where to find my old prized shooter.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at