A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 07, 2005
Potsy
"Potsy" is the New York City term for the game of "hopscotch" (or a variant of this game). "Pot" has been cited since at least 1884 and "potsie" since at least 1897.


(Dictionary of American Regional English)
potsy n
also patsy; also sp pot(t)sie, pottsy; rarely pl: The game of hopscotch; the object used in this game. [Prob pots (at pot n 5) + -ie suff (also -y)] chiefly NYC
1905 Pedagogical Seminary 12.503 NYC, Potsie--a primitive kind of hopscotch.
1928 Amer. Mercury 14.58 NYC, Potsies, as I learned long after,...is the New York version of hopscotch.
1931 Recreation (NY) 24.672, Potsy is an adaptation of Hop Scotch...The "potsy" is a piece of tin, a rock or a puck.
1932 Sun (NY NY) 26 Mar 18/3, As any New Yorker will recognize, the potsy refers to the piece of tin can, doubled and redoubled and stamped flat with the heel, which is kicked from flagstone to flagstone...by the hopping, juvenile player of the game potsy.

Google Books
Games and Songs of American Children
by William Wells Newell
New York: Harper & Brothers
1884
Pg. 188: Hop-Scotch.
In Italy the three last divisions are Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. In New York the last is called Pot.

Chronicling America
4 June 1897, New York (NY) Daily Tribune, "Columbia Seniors at Play," pg. 7, col. 4:
After this the boys were too tired to play potsie, peggy, hopscotch, follow-my-leader and crossing, which would have completed the programme, but contented themselves with congratulating Hess on his victories, and in filling him up with ice cream sodas.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (10) Comments • Monday, March 07, 2005 • Permalink


I played Potsy in Manhattan in the late ‘40s. We often used two linked bobbypins as a potsie. Added a link to your page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopscotch

Posted by Renee  on  10/04  at  11:45 PM

I played potsy (hopscotch) with my neighborhood girlfriends in the 60’s in Queens. We usually scouted around and used rocks (flat ones were the best ones because they didn’t roll around on the hopscotch board).  We drew the hopscotch board with sidewalk chalk usually in someone’s backyard, or even on the sidewalk, and could play for hours. It was a wonderful way to spend time together having fun!

Posted by Kathleen  on  06/29  at  11:50 AM

We played Potsy in Queens, too - Glendale. We used a flat pebble and drew the potsy squares on the sidewalk. There were 8 squares: a double, a single, a double, a single, and a double. We also played Uncle Sam May I Cross Your River, Steal the Bacon, Mother May I, Red Light Green Light 1-2-3, and Fine Fine Super Fine.

Posted by Barbara  on  07/16  at  09:18 PM

I played potsy in Queens in the 50’s.  We used half of a clothespin for the potsy.

Posted by Mary Catherine  on  11/26  at  11:08 AM

I recently came across a Hopscotch course here in a suburb of Rochester, but my memory kept telling me that we did not call this game Hopscotch when I played it in The Bronx, NY in the late 30’s, early 40’s.  Searching my memory I came up with the phrase “potsy” and as this delightful and informative article shows, “Potsy” was indeed one of many altermative names for Hopscotch, and one from NYC at that. But then my memory wondered if potsy isn’t what we called the object we aimed at the various squares, rather than the name of the game itself.  So I was delighted to find in Ref 5 that potsie was both the name of the game AND the name of the object used in the game.  Well, glad my memory is still good for something at age 81.  The potsie BTW was chosen with great care and was preferably a set of keys, as once they landed they sayed put. 6/25/11

Posted by Marilyn R. Loeb  on  06/26  at  12:41 PM

I played potsy with my best friend Carol back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. We lived in Plainview, NY and would spend hours playing. We would have a favorite potsy...either a rock or a bobby pin. We drew the potsy board with chalk on the street. Back then you didn’t have to worry too much about traffic! We also spent lots of time jumping rope, riding our bikes, playing kickball, and stickball, and bouncing a Spaulding ball. There were always lots of kids to play with1

Posted by Gail  on  07/12  at  09:50 PM

We played Potsy in Brooklyn as a variation on Hopscotch. In Potsy, the playing field was a straight row of 5 sidewalk squares. One threw the Potsy into square one and hopped in and while on one foot had to kick the Potsy into the next square. Your turn was over if you missed kicking the Potsy or your other foot touched the ground. On your next turn you had to toss the Potsy from the start line into the square you were up to in order to start. The Potsy was always an old rubber heel that we got from the shoemaker on the corner.

Posted by Kid At Heart  on  09/18  at  11:06 AM

My mom taught us how to play Potsy when I was a kid in the Bronx during the 60s and 70s. We had the whole neighborhood playing - boys included!  When our backyard got black-topped, my dad PAINTED the potsy board on it in bright white paint so that the rain could never wash it away. Some of my best memories are of playing Potsy long into the summer nights.

Posted by Una  on  02/01  at  02:22 PM

We played potsey in Brooklyn in the early ‘60s.  We were lucky enough to have a potsey board built right into the sidewalk.  I have no idea how it got there or who’s idea it was but it provided great playtime for those of us who lived on E. 15th Street between Avenue U and V.

Posted by Rhue2u  on  04/12  at  01:09 PM

I played potsy in Brooklyn in the ‘50s. We had 8 boxes as described above by Barbara. We too found that a set of keys worked best since they were heavy and didn’t bounce. We distinguished potsy from hopscotch in that potsy did not involve hopping.

Posted by Ronan Baron  on  09/10  at  09:35 PM

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