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What is that? April 20, 2024

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Roger McKeon was on last week’s mystery photo (see right) with a hop, skip and a jump, emailing us: “Hopscotch grid on the sidewalk in front of Jack’s Marine, right?”

Credit: Ambrose Clancy)

Right, Roger. And Jane Ritzler also emailed us, noting the photo is of the “sidewalk in front of Jack’s on Bridge Street.”

Hopscotch is an ancient game played the world over under different names. Several reports note that the game originated in Britain when it was part of the Roman empire.

Then the grids, or “courts,” were more than 100 feet long, used by Roman legionaries for training. They played the game in full armor and packs. British kids imitated the soldiers, marking out smaller courts. The game soon spread to Europe, the world, and Shelter Island.

As for the name, the Oxford English Dictionary says it comes from “hop,” and “scotch,” or “scratching” a line to make the court. The journal of the British Archaeological Association stated, “The sport of Hop-Scotch or Scotch-Hoppers is called in Yorkshire ‘Hop-Score,’ and in Suffolk ‘Scotch Hobbies or Hobby,’ from the boy who gets on the player’s back whilst hopping or ‘hicking,’ as it is there termed; and in Scotland it is known as ‘Peevers, Peeverels, and Pabats.’”

Got that?

New Yorkers of a certain age will remember the game played on city sidewalks as “potsy,” originating from the use of a potsherd as a marker. Better than peever… well, maybe.