News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.


By Joe Torosian

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“I said ‘Hey Lama! How about a little something for, you know, the effort?'” —Carl Spackler

Week ten of the prep season is here, mid season of the NFL is here, and college is gearing up for its bowl game jockeying in November.

“They’re playing for all the marbles.”

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s a standard cliche that comes out when everything is on the line. You hear it everywhere.

Yet as I look at the calendar it reads November 6th, 2013. I have three daughters, no sons, so I may be wrong on this, but this isn’t November 6th, 1974 and I’m not sure kids play marbles anymore.

Do they? Can you still buy them in a store? Can you still play them at school or is it considered a form of bullying if you lose your marbles?

I was a horrible marbles player, I couldn’t hit the dirt kneeling and flicking that small orb with my thumb. You knew who the good marble players were because they had them stuffed down the front pocket of their “tough skins.”

Going to the store I’d buy marbles, take them out of the bag, and shove them down my pocket. Two recesses and a lunch break later, I was down to about half. By the next day I was toast.

Tony Ciccone was the best player I knew…He took all the marbles, he won all the time. Even when Miss Toby told us on the playground at Columbia that we couldn’t play for “keeps” and could only play for “Funsies” (True, that was her word.)

It was a joke, because everyone knew the code mandated that the winner of a game of marbles…took all of the marbles. There were no “funsies” involved. It was for keeps. I couldn’t ask for my marbles back from Ciccone after he won them from me.

So we got Rosemead playing Arroyo this week for the Mission Valley League title…this game is truly for all of the marbles. We got San Marino playing Monrovia for the Rio Hondo League title…this game is truly for all of the marbles.

Temple City is playing La Canada for third place in the Rio Hondo and a final playoff birth. I would say this game is for, perhaps, a sack of marbles but not all the marbles.

The best part of it all, is that it is for keeps. It is forever. It is something to cherish days later at school, and years later at the reunion. Whether for all of them, or for a sack, you want those marbles.

Those marbles are why we keep score, why we prepare, why these student athletes get up before dawn. Nothing is better than playing for all the marbles.

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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.