Skip to comments.Fun with a Pocket Knife: How to Play Mumbley Peg [Mumblety-Peg]
Posted on 01/07/2014 3:41:39 AM PST by Maceman
Every man should carry a pocketknife. Its handy for cutting open packages, severing twine, and, of course, eating an apple like a bad ass.
But it can also be a source of instant, anywhere entertainment. Because its all you need to play the game of mumbley peg.
Never heard of the game? Dont worry. Today well give you the scoop on how to play this knife throwing pastime that was once popular among 19th century schoolboys, Wild West cowboys, and World War II soldiers. All you need to play mumbley peg is a friend, a couple of pocket knives, and a bit of skill. Its the perfect way to pass the time when hanging outside with your friends, relaxing around the fire on a camping trip, and bonding with your son. The History of Mumbley Peg
Versions of mumbley peg (also known as mumblety-peg, mumblepeg, mumble-the-peg, mumbledepeg or mumble-de-peg) have been around as long as jackknives have been in the pockets of boys and men who had time to kill. The game gets its name from a stick driven into the ground by the winner of the game, which the loser must pull out of the ground with his teeth. Mumbley peg was an insanely popular schoolyard game in the 19th century among boys. It was right up there with marbles and jacks. In fact, Mark Twains Tom Sawyer, Detective, mentions mumbletypeg as being a favorite game with the children at old Toms school.
The game continued in popularity well into the first half of the 20th century.
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The game waned in popularity starting in the 1970s as over-protective adults put a kibosh on the game at summer camps and as pocket knife-carrying became less prevalent among the male population.
(Excerpt) Read more at artofmanliness.com ...
Its been several years since I played that game and I carry a pocket knife every day. Brings back some memories.
Lovingly that was taught to my brother and me by our uncle and aunts. Back then.....it....was....meant to be a ....game.
Same here. Played it a lot as a kid. Don’t recall any serious injuries. Hey, I still eat my apple with my pocket knife.
Any relation to the game of Mumble Peg?
We used to play it a lot during recess, a very long time ago.
Back when boys were all boys.
That reminds me of another game we played, we called it chicken. Two people would stand facing each other, legs spread wide. Youd throw your knife and stick it in the ground between your opponents feet. Youd move a foot beside the knife. It took only a few throws before your feet were only a few inches apart. The first one to quit was chicken.
Used to play it in the schoolyard. ALWAYS had my blue handled Cub Scout knife on my person.No one batted an eyelash if you had a pen knife at 8 years old in the 50’s.
Back in a past century we wharf rats played a game something like this. We started facing each other 8-10 feet apart with our feet spread apart shoulder width or so. Then one would toss his fish knife, which wasn't a pocket knife but rather a 10 inch Old Hickory or a 9 inch Dexter, and toss it to stick in the ground between the other's feet. The other guy would then draw one foot up to the knife and return the favor. Mostly we got so both parties' feet were together before one or the other quit. We played for a quarter or a dollar, depending how much we had made off the tourists on the head boats that day. I caught one right in the top of my right foot and before it registered that it was, indeed, in my foot, I reached down and pulled it up to make my own next toss when Robert yelled,"Okay, you win!" and held out a dollar. Only then did it occur to me that the thing had been standing up in my foot. It passed between the laces of my shoe and left only a wee slit in the tongue. There was a bit of blood on the underside of the tongue and only a trace on my foot. It never did actually hurt.
is that the new Leatherworking/Woodworking merit badge?
In grade school in the late 1950’s we played mumbley peg at recess. Most of the boys had a knife in their pocket at school.
I'm about the same age. I used to drive myself to high school, take my .22 Cal target rifle out of the back seat, walk through the halls and put it in the Rifle Team coach's closet, then get it at the end of the day for practice. No one ever raised an eye and certainly no one ever got hurt.
I was just talking about mumbley-peg with some guys at work the other day, and they had no idea what I was talking about. Funny, because both of them carried pocket knives.
Mumbly peg isn’t mumbly peg until play it barefooted!
We called this game "DARE." The game was more about losing than winning: The person throwing the knife lost if he tossed the knife so that it stuck outside the other person's feet or if it hit the other person. The other person lost if he bailed out of position before the knife stuck. Thus, the goal was to toss the knife so that it stuck in the ground as close as possible to the inside of the opponent's foot without hitting him in the hopes that the opponent would bail out of position to avoid getting hit with the knife.
Thanks for the memories and a good link to the site!
Played the game as a kid and later went to “stretch’, where we started with feet together and straight bladed knives (ie. hunting knives) were thrown outside of the opponent’s feet, forcing them to stretch to that point, until one person could stretch no further or would fall down.
Playing with my kid sister, I made a bad throw and nailed her foot to the ground. Fortunately it was just in the fleshy part of the outside of her foot, but it scared the crap out of me ...and her. I took care of the wound and her, as I was 7 years older.
LOL, I remember that game. My brothers were playing chicken one morning before school. I was too little so they wouldn’t let me play. They left for school so I dedecided to play by myself. I stuck the knife in my foot. Mom was not impressed.
We played the game everyday at lunch when I was in the 8th grade at Jr High
Boys don’t carry pocketknives anymore. Now they carry hand sanitizer.
That game plus Marbles were all the rage at my school in the early 50s. With marbles, you dare not let your parents know that you were playing "for keeps" because that was "gambling".
YOu are not going through any metal detectors are you
I got my first b.b. gun when I was 7 years old, my sister was 12. We lived next door to my grandparents and my uncle was 14. He dared me to shoot my sister in the back. Wanting to impress my older uncle, I promptly shot her.
After my whoppin' from my dad and his belt, my b.b. gun was put away for an entire year and I got regular lectures from my dad about even pointing it at anybody. My uncle, who was somewhat coddled, as a child of my grandparent's "old age", got no punishment at all.
That sister is now 73 years old and is in hospice care, dying of liver cancer, she still well remembers the b.b. gun incident but gave up on being mad at me a long, long time ago.
Two words; Tetanus!
But that was back in a time when Americans were free, before the federal government decided to pussify the country
and before liberals embarked on their crusade to turn boys into girls.
The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.
-- Leslie Poles Hartley
They now carry virtual pocket knives.
“In grade school in the late 1950s we played mumbley peg at recess. Most of the boys had a knife in their pocket at school.”
In the old movie “Boystown” Mickey Rooney gives a jacknife to a kid about 6 or 7 and no one raises an eyebrow. How society has changed, and not for the better.
We used to play a game (the name escapes me) where you tossed pocket change against the wall and whoever was the closest, got to keep the money. I lost my lunch money on several occasions.
Boy aint that the truth.
Couple of years ago I went to dinner with a buddy of mine with the wives along. We started comparing our pocketknives. After a little while, I noticed some of the other patrons looking at us with a look of horror. I thought “What the hell?”.
I carry a knife and a leatherman everyday and encourage my son to carry a knife as well. His mom encourages the hand sanitizer, but he fights her on that.
Each time this subject comes up in its many forms, I immediately recall an episode of the Andy Griffin show.
This episode was about Opie wanting to win a gift for his father at the carnival shooting gallery. Picture Opie with a loaded .22 semi-auto rifle and strolling in the midway behind him is a mother with a child in hand. This scene was normal then but today they would call out the SWAT Team.
"If you protect a man from folly, you will soon have a nation of fools." -- William Penn
BB guns were the first guns boys received in days past. My boys didn’t shoot humans or animals with them but they did get into trouble for taking potshots at laundry hanging on the line and putting holes in their sisters’ underwear.
How times have changed.
When I was in the 1st grade in Atlanta, during recess I used to play Mumbly-peg with my Case. Nowadays that would get you dosed with Ritalin, suspended, parents jailed and you in the care of Child Protective Services....with a Federal rap sheet, to boot!
We played it all the time when I was a kid...often at recess. Having a pocket knife at school today would probably get a kid arrested and expelled.
WOW! Great quote!
I’ve never heard of L.P. Hartley, so I did a search and found this page of his quotes.
These are a few I like:
To see things as they really were—what an empoverishment!
” He had very little to laugh about, I thought, and yet he laughed. His gaiety had a background of the hospital and the battlefield. I felt he had some inner reserve of strength which no reverse, however serious, would break down.
LOL, this reminds me. We used to play this at school when I was in high school.
Every boy brought their pocket knife everywhere they went, particularly to school. The nanny state would have a stroke. Tops sharpened to split the other kid’s top was fun as well. Can you bring yo yos to school now?
We used to do that in grade school. Every kid had a pocket knife. I guess they don’t allow that anymore. :-)
We played a variation called “stretch.” We’d stand facing each other and take turns throwing a Bowie knife at the ground on either side of the opponent’s feet. If the knife stuck, he had to move his foot where the knife was. Once the knife was stuck in the ground at a point that he couldn’t stretch his foot to, you won.
Dittos. Before school, recess, lunch and after school. All the fellas played. I can remember teachers and staff, on occasion, checking our games out as we played! We used to stone our blade’s tips on our desktops right in class! Today the SWAT teams, crisis counseling, shrinks etc. etc. would be called in. A long, long time ago in a very different America.....I miss that America.
The good old days.Got by first BB gun at 8 and got hit by many a ricochet.
It never even occurred to us that a high school kid with a rifle was a problem we actually had an indoor range in the basement of an elementary school and the little kids used to love the “fireworks” they could hear.
Mumbley peg was an art form from my youth. Long before Jethro Gibbs rule #9 all the boys I knew didn’t leave home without a pocket knife and a bag of marbles. I still have a cigar box full of Aggies, catseyes, toothpaste and Oxbloods. We played marbles and Mumbley peg for “keepsies”.
We also used to carry our shotguns to elementary school on the bus, leave them in the coatroom during class and then walk home after school, locked and loaded for dove hunting.
My son will never know the freedoms or the joys of being a boy I once enjoyed. The kids today play Mario and Pokémon on their tablets. The world has changed.
Last I looked, Dad still keeps his Daisy BB on the back porch for stray cats. (Nobody likes fresh pawprints on a newly washed car or strewn baby rabbit guts after watching them grow all Spring.) As for popping the offender while it’s lazing on top of your car - oops, that Daisy shoots left!
Thanks, BTW, as I hadn’t a clue how mumblety-peg was played!