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Along time ago in a land far far away. Or so it seems these days. Enough of that back to the serious matter at hand. A game whose origin must stretch back to the days before man was civilized. At the least as far back as the 50’s or 60’s, maybe further.
Who came up with this sadistic form of fun is also another of the great mysteries of growing up in Parkchester, and it’s surrounding neighborhoods. This much I think, everyone who is familiar with this game can agree on, It had to have been devised by one of our older brothers or sisters. How do I know this? Because they were always the person that suggested the playing of the game.
My first run at this childhood game was at the Wall in the South. I don’t recall all the faces on that ill-fated day, “oh the humanity”! I am quite sure that I was with my cousin Johnny, strange he pops up a lot in these tales?! or #@$%&##…others included Mary Jane, Tommy, Albee, Patricia, and Patricia, possibly Georgie and Andy
Regardless, this is how the game went. One of the older kids says. “hey lets play hot beans and butter” and all the younger kids say, “Yeah, Yeah, how do we play?” Was Margaret there that day? I think so. Anyway, at this point the rules are spelled out for the uninitiated……..”ok who has a good belt on? great that will do, now the first person, that will be me since me and Tommy are the only ones who have played before, hides the belt…then after it hid, yous guys have to try and find it..if someone is close, I’ll say you’re gettin’ warm, if you start to get further away, I say something like “Johnny’s getting cold”. Now this spot here is base, if you make it here you are safe, Then all us little kids say….”safe from what?”…”Well when someone finds the belt then they get to whip anyone who has not made it to base yet until they do”..”AHHH? OK?” says our little minds.
At that point the rest of the rules were spelled out:
no hitting with the buckle
no hitting above the waist
no hitting in the front
penalties were imposed for infractions
1 lash, 3 lashes, and on to the gauntlet!
Now I may be a paranoid, tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist, but I am pretty sure that at least that first round was rigged and Tommy and Johnny knew that Johnny was going to find that belt. And then the game was on!First round, Tommy hides the belt, Johnny finds it and several of us get a good little whipping. Johnny was great at finding that belt, he would be standing right over it and couldn’t see it until almost everyone had made there way close, and bam! he would pull it out of no where and be on us.
Several rounds and several red welts and arguments about penalties later, after a few tears here or there (mostly here) an event took place that ended the game for that day. Now we all knew that Bronx girls were tough, I had lost a fight or two to several already by this almost grown up age of nine or ten. But, I don’t think any of us had any idea exactly how tough, until Mary Jane got whipped in a fashion that did not apply to the rules. I kinda think she was already upset after Patricia got two big ole welts on her back the round before, that were above the zone deemed legal. Well in a flash as the next swing came at her, she had the belt and was swinging like a Yankee in the World Series. Most all of us got a lashing and the game ended on that round, until next week when we gave it another go. At least that’s the way I remember it happening, you may have a different memory of the day and that’s ok.
So whether you call it hot beans and butter, or hot peas and butter, that’s not important to me or to the story of that day. To me, and I saw it myself in the eyes of the older boys.. I was a little young at the time…, in Parkchester boys love a tough girl, and the girls in our neighborhood, in the neighborhoods around us, the girls in our gang, they were tough.