Games We Played in the Schoolyard

schoolI attended primary school from 1978 until 1989. That makes me somewhat of an authority on schoolyard games played during recess and lunch in West Toronto during the 1980s.

This entry isn't about the typical games kids play, like baseball or catch or tag, this is about two games we took very seriously at St. Pius X. Both games required a wall and a tennis ball, and I haven't played either since I graduated to high school.

Butt's Up a.k.a. Redass

In hindsight, this was a nasty little game. It wouldn't surprise me one bit to learn Butt's Up a.k.a. Redass has been banned from schoolyards. Basically, you throw a tennis ball at the wall, and catch it. If you touch the ball and fail to catch it, you have to run to the wall before someone else picks up the ball and throws it at the wall. If you fail to make it to the wall before the ball does, you're forced to stand with your face against the wall while the other players take turns whipping the ball at your butt. Now you know where the names come from.

We, being good Catholic kids who avoided swears in the names of our games, always called this game Butt's Up, but at some point a kid from another school transferred over and told us the game was actually called Redass.

Handball

Our handball was nothing like the lacrosse-like handball you see where a team attempts to score on a net. Our handball was sort of like squash with our hands where we would hit the tennis ball so it bounced once on the ground and then hit the wall. You could hit it on a bounce, or on the fly. If the ball bounced twice before the next person returned it, something happened. Here's where my memory gets a little fuzzy. I can't remember if you got a point and the first person to six was out or if you got a letter and started spelling a word, soft of like Horse.

I do remember that we would call "no sidesies" and the better players developed an awesome topspin so it would hit the wall and die. We would also peel the cover off the tennis ball to give it more bounce.

That's how we rolled in West Toronto in the 80s. Does anyone else remember Butt's Up, Redass or Handball?


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Daniel

I played a ton of redass at two elementary schools that I went to (Holy Cross in Malton and St. Teresa in Etobicoke). It was a fun game. I also remember handball the way you describe it.

When I moved to Etobicoke I was introduced to a new game called British Bulldog (or just "British") that involved one team of kids running from one end of the school yard across to the other while the other team (usually bigger kids) would wait in the middle and try to tackle, trip or otherwise stop you from reaching the other side. It was great in the snow, but became pretty violent at times. It was fun though, and I really can't remember anyone ever hurting themselves seriously - and I broke several bones playing regular school sports haha.

May 10, 2008 @ 7:29 PM

Toronto Mike

I have distinct memories of British Bulldog being banned in our schoolyard. That didn't stop us from playing it a few times on snowy days.

May 10, 2008 @ 7:32 PM

A.R.

In the mid to late late nineties we had both those games, though British Bulldog was banned by name. I really enjoyed handball, and it would really get intense with our series.

There was a similar game in which there were two teams, called Red Rover. The teammates would hold hands, creating a link and then challenge someone from the other team (which was doing the same thing) to break the link by pushing themselves through. If they couldn't break the link, they would have to join the other side. It would go on until one team ran out of players. The challenging of a particular person took place with a chant: "Red rover, red rover, we call [person's name] over".

May 12, 2008 @ 12:14 AM

The_Voice

RedASS. Boy did I suck at that.

Handball I eventually developed that dying top spin... I was the shiznit.

May 12, 2008 @ 2:05 AM

Toronto Mike

Yep, I remember Red Rover and that "Red rover, red rover, we call [person's name] over" chant. Good times...

May 12, 2008 @ 9:13 AM

Anonymous

Hey!I went to a catholic school and I remember this game we played where a personwith both hands would hold onto a chain link fence.Then the next person would run and land on his back,then the next person would do the same.I'm not sure what it was called or what the purpose of it was,but I seriously injured my neck.Whip-lash I think!
Anyways those were the days!

January 9, 2009 @ 9:29 PM

Anonymous

Hey!I went to a catholic school and I remember this game we played where a personwith both hands would hold onto a chain link fence.Then the next person would run and land on his back,then the next person would do the same.I'm not sure what it was called or what the purpose of it was,but I seriously injured my neck.Whip-lash I think!
Anyways those were the days!

January 9, 2009 @ 9:30 PM

AB

that brings back alot of memories from the 80s...there are tonnes of strategy in handballs, the awesome top spins for one...you can also set yourself up by sorta like 'volley' the ball to settle it down & then smash it to the wall...some kids can do a extremely low shots so that the other guy can't return it...which often result in broken nails that hurt like hell...

March 16, 2010 @ 11:44 PM

Brent

Yo Mike, we love schoolyard handball. Check out the link provided and see how the big kids are still playing!

May 31, 2011 @ 4:20 PM

AK

Did you guys play salade? It was a game where you crushed a can and then had to kick it between another guy’s legs and if that happened, everyone got to run and kick that guy in the butt until he ran and touched a safety wall or pole. Salade!

August 8, 2018 @ 11:47 PM

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