June 14, 2005

Foursquare & Twenty Years Ago

I'm mad. I have this excellent concept in my head to celebrate this week's Illustration Friday theme ("summer"), but I simply can't execute it to paper. So I've taken a break and instead I'm gonna describe the inspiration behind the idea. And someday in the future, I'll tackle the sketch again and eventually post it.

I went to Mulvey School for grades two through six. Come recess at Mulvey, the sports of choice were this rugby-soccer-keepaway hybrid we dubbed hogball – and foursquare. I'm not certain just how common the game of foursquare was back in the day, but at Mulvey – and many other schools around Winnipeg – playgrounds featured at least one foursquare 'court' painted onto the blacktop. Simply put, the game involved a square split into four quadrants, each occupied by a player. There's a ball – one of those pock-marked inflatable playground balls somewhere between the sizes of a volleyball and basketball. The game allowed all sorts of room for personal flair, including moves like stoppers, dribblers, stompers, double-hits and the dreaded 'toilet seat'. Once a kid missed a play, he was demoted to fourth square – or to the lineup, if more than four kids were involved. Foursquare rewarded strong play with eventual advancement to square one. The player in square one dictated the rules of the round, and then it's simply a matter of hitting the ball to one another – a la handball – letting it bounce once per play.

At Mulvey we played foursquare serious – sometimes even at Olympic levels with each kid representing a nation of their choice. When we moved on to Gordon Bell High School, we left the game behind. It was a game for little kids.

Until some downtime between exams in grade nine, when a few of us had the gumption to resurrect our grade school glory-days. We stole some chalk, etched a foursquare on the concrete, nabbed a basketball and started playing again. We continued straight through the end of high school; dazzling, fast-paced games that attracted members of the volleyball and basketball teams and incorporating slick, Globetrotter-esque moves. It became a downtime phenomenon, eating up study periods and defying normal teenage behaviour. It was kickass.

And that's the memory I was attempting to invoke with this sketch, which I'm determined now more than ever to get right. Just not right now.


jk said...

i hope the sketch involves the broken window. i can't remember who broke it, but i think it may have been you. anyhow, it will remain a day which will live in infamy. that had to be one of the highlights of grade nine.

Jeope said...

Yeah, I'll own up to it now. It was me. I tried to hurl the ball at Peter and it sailed into the window instead. I think you initially got the blame because everybody else ran for it and you sat down laughing!

Allan L. said...

I tell you, guys...I really miss that shit. Living right by Mulvey makes it harder.
Team Africa in the house!
(I'm smiling ear-to-ear over here.)
Dude...let that idea marinate and do it up as a non-IF project. I know you can pull it off.
I'm gonna finish mine tonight...it's all T & A. That's summer to me.

Deb said...

i remember foursquare!!! we had a "foursquare unit" in gym every year, just like the softball unit, basketball unit, etc., basically a unit was when you played the same sport for a few weeks straight. hey, we're lazy americans, we only get gym class once a week... ;)

Joce said...

...Speaking of Gordon Bell...

so funny, because i was just on the alumni page for GB (during some heavy surfing) and i stumbled upon this website. neat.

Anyhow, I went to GB and graduated in '98....but i remember you from when i was young and just started (you graduated in '93?)
Anyways, just wanted to say i like the blog!