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Mop handle: the original multipurpose tool
by Stu Hoffman
(Brooklyn NY, circa 1954) - I grew up in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn in the 15 Ave. and 42 Street area. Back in the early 50s, when I was between 10-12 years old, we played street stickball almost every day during the summer vacation. Most of the games were pick up teams depending upon who was around. The rules we played under were informal and simple.
  1. All hits were "up the middle". A pulled ball was an out. The curbs were the foul lines.
  2. The hanging trees were in play and made for some interesting fielding. Parked cars were also in play.
  3. Man hole covers were the hit designators (5 per block).
  4. We played one bounce pitching using a Pensy Pinky which was softer than a spaldeen and could be made to make "movement" tricks.
  5. Games were typically 7 innings.
When we were hot, tired, or thirsty we'd go into the Montauk Junior HS building summer program for water and rest. Very few of us went to camp (who could afford it back then). Stickball kept us busy and out of trouble. Well, not totally. Once in a while someone would pull a high shot onto a nearby roof. The batter had to figure out how to retrieve the ball from the roof, dodge the building superintendent, and not fall or get hurt.

We used the manholes as the distance markers for single, double, triple, etc. One day, our trusty bat (a broom handle) splintered near the end of a tense game. What to do? Suddenly, someone remembered a lady had just hung her wet mop out on her first floor clothes line to dry. Figuring she wouldn't need the mop soon, we unscrewed the mop handle, finished our game, and gently reconnected the handle to the drying mop head. She was unaware that it was "borrowed."

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