Playing for Keeps
Playing for Keeps | 48”x 18” | Oil on Canvas
When I was in elementary school, most boys and girls had a bag of marbles. Outside at recess there were marble games being played across the school yard. Some were just friendly games played for the fun of it, others were serious, emotional contests playing for keeps. Marbles had names and were collected. Some were rare, some simply popular. There were Cat’s Eye, Bumblebees, Swirls, Clearies, Aggies, Peewees, and the greatest of all power shooters... the Steelie.
No one would play against a steelie unless they also had a steelie.
Playing ‘for keeps’ meant you risked loosing the marble or marbles you played with. However, you may also win, and get to keep the other kid’s marble(s). It meant a lot to increase the number of marbles you had in your bag.
One day, at my Grandpa’s house, I had my marbles with me and he challenged me to a game. I was surprised to learn that my grandpa even had marbles. He said “sure I have a drawer full.” He went and got some marbles and we got down on the big oval rag-rug to play. It was not long before grandpa had cleaned me out. I had lost my marbles. It was all I could do to not cry. I kind of figured he
would teach me some kind of lesson and give them back to me, but he didn’t. Well, he may have given me some kind of speech, but in the disappointment of loosing my marbles, all I could remember was that somewhere he had a “drawer full of marbles.” I can’t tell you how many times I searched through his room looking for that drawer of marbles. Much to my disappointment, I never did find it.
As you can see from the expression on the boy’s face in this painting, playing for keeps was serious business and meant a lot to us kids. It really is too bad that children don’t spend more time playing outdoors these days. A sandbox or dirt hill can provide a lot of opportunity for fun and healthy imagination.
They still sell marbles today, I encourage you to get some, find the rules online and play.
"You should have the Art you Love."
Limited Edition Options
Size # in Edition
48"x 18" 25
36"x 13.5" 75
24"x 9" 150
16"x 6" 300