It was still early when I got home. I wanted to play the Jacks game with Joanie and her friends, but it’s a girl game and if the guys I hang out with would see me playing this stupid game, they would make fun of me for weeks. My Mom had dinner ready when I walked in the door. So I sat down with my Mom and sister at the kitchen table and I had a bowl of broccolirabe mixed with spaghetti, olive oil and Parmesan cheese, put in front of me. My Dad was not at the dinner table so it looks like my Dad will be working late again. This spaghetti and vegetable dish was not my favorite meal so I sprinkled some hot pepper on the pasta and vegetables.
My Mom knows I load hot pepper on a meal if I don’t like the taste of what she’s serving. Because, for me, the hot pepper cuts the bitter taste of the broccolirab. My Mom does not like me to load hot pepper on her food, so she looks at me and says “you knowaa when-na you grow up-a you willaa like this food better than you likeaa meat.” I started to think to myself “Yeah, fat chance, if it wasn’t for the olive oil and all the spices on this shit I wouldn’t be able to eat it at all.” I just smiled and kept on eating.
After dinner I went into our living room, which was my part time bedroom, and sat next to the radio to listen to stories of Superman and Suspense. The Superman stories are exciting to me and great to listen to, but the Suspense and Inner Sanctum programs are my favorite, they always scare the hell out of me. I would shut all the lights except for the little light glowing from the radio, and then listen to these programs in the dark.
After listening to all my radio stories I went to bed. I was laying there and started thinking that our summer vacation from school was moving too fast. We only have about three weeks left before we have to go back to school. Wow! Why does time go by so fast when you’re having fun? With that thought I fell asleep.
The next morning, I got up, had breakfast, and went out to look for Nunzio. My godmother gave me a new spin top for my birthday and I wanted to hook up with my Friends to play out spin the top war game. I found Nunzio sitting on his stoop. He looked okay and he didn’t have any bandages on his hand. I hope that his hand healed 100% from that stab wound he got from the wooden sward when we had our carpet gun war. Thanks to Nunzio and his charge to get the red flag, we had a great victory. He looked at me and I said “Hi Nunzio, how’s your hand?” “I feel great and my hand is just like it was before I got stabbed.” I sat next to him and said, “I got a new spin top for my birthday and I thought it would be great if we could put together a spin top war game this morning. Do you have a spin top?” “Yeah, I have an old one that’s still in great shape. I’ll go get it.”
Nunzio ran into his house and came back out in five minutes with his red top in his hand. We walked up the block to find Pecker, Reno, and Mike Tomato. We found them sitting on the corner of Hicks and Luquer Street. It didn’t take long before all the guys found their spin tops and we started to play our game.
I took a piece of chalk and I made a ten inch circle on the smooth black top surface in the street. We can’t play this game on the cobble stone street. You need the smooth surface for the top to spin without any interference. We first compete to see who goes first, second, third, whatever. We do this by aiming our tops to hit the chalk circle. Whoever lands his top directly in the circle goes first. If you miss the circle you have to wait for the second or even the third round before you try to hit the circle again. If everyone hits the circle before you and it turns out that you’re dead last, you have to lay your top into the chalk circle.
Reno’s bad luck made him dead last. So now he put his green top in the chalk circle for everybody to shoot at. All the tops are made of wood and they spin on a sharp metal tip at the base. We sometimes sharpen the metal tip by scraping it along the concert sidewalk. Each player throws his top as hard as possible at Reno’s top in the circle. If they hit his top they wait to go again at the end of the line. If the player misses hitting the top in the circle and their top is still spinning they have to slip the spinning top into the palm of their hand. While the top is spinning in the palm of their hand, they rush over to the target top in the circle and throw their spinning top at the top in the circle. They have to hit it before their top stops spinning.
If the player who threw the top makes it in time he has to wait for the next round to go again. If the player misses the target he has to put his top in the circle. Now Reno goes free and it’s his turn to throw the top at the target. It’s now my turn, I twirl the string all around my spin top. I put my middle finger into the loop at the end of the string. Some tops have a button at the end of the string that you place between your fingers.
I hold the top upside down with my fingers as tight as possible. I bring my arm way over my head and whip my arm in a downward motion with all my might at the target. If I hit the target directly, with my top’s sharp metal point, it could and will split the target wood top into two pieces.
That is why we call it a War game, because we are all doing our best to “Destroy” the other player’s spin top. After a couple of hours two tops were destroyed in our war game. Nunzio and Mike Tomato will have to buy new tops for the next time we play this game. Many times we see the teenagers play this game with money on the line. If you lose, not only is your top destroyed, you then have to pay a dollar or two to the winners. That’s when it gets real ugly and fights break out. Our guys don’t have much money to bet on the tops game so at the end of our game we head to the Candy Store to buy some treats.