Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
There is an elementary school that is close to our house where we live today, maybe a couple hundred yards or so. It is a parochial school called St. Catherine’s. One day last spring, I walked past that school just as all the kids were leaving the building for the day … some time around 3:30 p.m.
As the youngsters came pouring out of the building, I found myself surrounded by boys and girls, many of whom came up to somewhere around my waist. We all stood there together, waiting for the crossing guards to give us permission to walk. I probably looked a little silly, like one stock of sweet corn growing in a garden of pepper plants.
That was a nice experience for me. They were all talking, and I could listen to what they were talking about. The girls were clustered on one side of me, while the boys were on the other side.
As we waited for the crossing guards’ permission, I was listening to several conversations at once. A few of the older boys were arguing about who was the best softball player. Then all of a sudden, one of them let out a howl and yelled, “Ouch, Jimmy frogged me.”
Oh man, did that bring back memories. I haven’t heard anyone talk about being frogged in years. I didn’t even know boys did that anymore. For the benefit of readers who have never been frogged, I guess I better explain it. It’s something that boys did a lot when I was a kid.
The boy doing the frogging would make a fist with one hand. He would extend the knuckle of his middle finger to stick out in front of the fist. Then he would punch another kid in the upper arm, striking not with the fist, but with the extended knuckle. Boy did that smart.
The area that was struck would cramp up, and sometimes a knot in the muscle wood form. Both kids might run a hand over the frog to feel the bump. Then they both would laugh.
The blow to the arm was never done in anger. It was just something that boys sometimes did to one another when they were just “horsing around.” It was sometimes also done in a competitive way. Let’s say I was sitting in the grass at the swimming pool playing cards with a friend, maybe a game of Crazy Eights.
Before the game started, we would agree that the winner got to frog the other kid. Getting frogged in a situation like that smarted even more. I think that was because you knew the blow was coming, so you tensed up. When it was just two kids horsing around and you didn’t expect the “frog attack,” it didn’t seem to hurt as much.
I should also say that not all froggers were equal, and it had nothing to do with the boy’s size or strength. In fact, one of the best kids who frogged me was a really small kid named Jimmy Dean. He was a year older than I was, and I have written about him previously … about what a great marbles player he was.
Jimmy may have been small, but he could target his knuckle to just the right place on your arm. I don’t know what it was, but I would much rather have some of those big kids frog me, than to have Jimmy do it.
I bet it has been at least 75 years since anyone frogged me. In fact, it has been so long that I had forgotten all about it until I heard that kid yell in front of the schoolhouse. That may have been uncomfortable for the boy who got frogged, but it sure brought back some fond memories for me.
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