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. Now a Popeye's fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from April 21, 2006
Salugi (or Saloogie)
"Salugi" (or "saluggi" or "saloogie") was a New York children's game of "keep away" that was popular in the 1950s. The origin of the name is unknown.

(Dictionary of American Regional English)
saluggi n Also s(a)loogie, salugie, salugi,{Etym unknown] NYC Cf monkey-in-the-middle
An unorganized game among children in which an article is snatched away from a victim and tossed back and forth among the tormentors; also used as a call in the game.
1975 Ferretti Gr. Amer. Book Sidewalk Games 169, Saluggi, or Saloogie, is another rather simple game that derives from torment. Two or more players simply take something...virtually anything that can be construed as something of a treasure...from another kid and throw it back and forth...while the owner tries desperately to get back his or her property. The only rules are that whoever catches the item must shout, "Saloogie on Chris's knife!,"...or whatever and that the victim must be angry, which is not at all difficult. It is not necessary to choose up for a game of Saloogie, rather, the predators have to decide on a victim, which is not difficult.
1977 NY Times (NY) 6 July 29, It was a game as valid to him and his friends as stoop-ball, kick the can, ring-a-lievio, red rover and salugi were to an earlier generation.

Urban Dictionary
Another name for the game of keep away, commonly played on the streets of NY in the 50s
We played salugi when I was a kid.
by prickly pear Oct 2, 2003

a 'keep away' game in which children throw around an object with the aim of keeping it away from a particular child (often the owner of the object) or from another group of children; keepings off

Brooklyn Slang
Salugi/Saloogi: A game of "keep away" that kids play, whereby one kid's hat is stolen, and other kids continually taunt him by throwing it past him or over his head to someone else. Usually the same kid is picked on all the time. It is a widely-held theory that mayor Rudy Giuliani was often the victim of salugi. (Mr. John Burke wrote us to say that he heard "salugi" used in the 1940's on his block--115th St. between Amsterdam and Morningside in Manhattan. Thanks for your email John!)

Google Books
The Last Angry Man:
A Novel

By Gerald Green
New York, NY: Scribner
Pg. 193:
They had seized the tan derby of one of their number; three others in sharp suits and silk waistcoats were tossing it around in a wild game of salugi.

Google Books
Six Television Plays
By Reginald Rose
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
Pg. 272:
HORACE (Fast) : Did you ever play saloogie?

Google Books
The Fireside Treasury of Modern Humor
By Scott Meredith
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
Pg. 440:
There are always a thousand kids on the block and a hundred games to choose from: stickball, stoopball, skullies, Johnny-on-a-Pony, Kick the Can, Statues, Salugi, Ring-a- Leavio, hundreds of games.

Sports Illustrated
April 20, 1964
Confessions Of A Stoop Ball Champion
Gilbert Rogin
I don't really know how to spell spaldeen, any more than I know how to spell "salugi" or "scelzi." We never had occasion to write any of them down, much of our language being oral, like the tongues of certain primitive tribes before missionaries enlightened them by putting it all down so the Bible could be translated into yet another language. Salugi, by the way, is more a kind of urban torture than a sport. One kid grabs something—say a hat or a glove—belonging to another kid, hereinafter and with good reason referred to as the victim, and cries, "Salugi!" He then tosses it to a third kid who relays it to a fourth, fifth or sixth—any number can play. While they blithely fling it among themselves, the victim tries to reclaim it. No score is kept, since the success of a game of salugi is measured only by the degree of the victim's humiliation. Scelzi, on the other hand, is benign and sedentary, much like marbles, but played with bottle caps.

Google Books
Found a Peanut
By Donald Margulies
New York, NY: Dramatists Play Service
Pg. 59:
"Saloogie!" (pronounced Sa-LOO-jee) is a signal given from one person to a second to be prepared to catch something (like Smolowitz's ball) snatched from an unsuspecting third and to prevent that person from retrieving it.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Friday, April 21, 2006 • Permalink

Regarding salugi: Here is my theory. When you removed the hat from the game’s victim you shouted “salugi.” You relieved him of his hat at the moment you announced a word that is close to the French word soulager, which means “to relieve.” There may be a comparable Italian word, and given the large number of Italians in NYC during my NY childhood of the 1940’s this may explain the name of the game.

Posted by David Wunsch  on  03/04  at  09:16 AM

@last comment

My parents are italian and I believe thats what it means.  Good comment.

Posted by Gas Blog  on  03/02  at  03:38 PM

At Saint Joachim’s Parochial School (grades 1-8 ,taught by the faithful Sisters of St. Joesph Order)in Cedarhurst, Long Island, New York. During the 1960,s (after lunch during recess) school boys (6-8 graders) played Salugi on a street (which was closed-off to thru-traffic.
The game was played with a kick ball.
All classmates would gather together.
The ball would be thrown up-high into the air.
Everyone would try to get hold of the ball as it fell down into their midst.
When someone got possession of the ball all the boys would yell: “Salugi” along with the name of the new ball possessor.
Then a frantic all out effort would be to tackle and pile up on the boy who had possession of the ball. To relieve him of possession of the ball.

The boy in possession of the ball would earnestly attempt to dodge getting caught, and to throw the ball to someone pursuing him. This was the only way to stop being the target of pursuit and capture from his fellow classmates. The attention of everyone was now on the new holder of the ball. Yelling “Salugi” every time the ball changes hands.
Everyone wanted to participate, so the game was always played willing and enthusiastically.
There was greater determination to catch certain classmates then other, so the ball, when held by these select ones, then: “Salugi” was really on.
I do not know when the game was first played at this school. But, I can tell you it was fun!
By the way, this game of Salugi and Kick-Ball was the only two games able to be played in the small area we had for recess. Punishment (by the Sisters) was swift and effective if play got too rough. This was a needed relief and safety-net for all players.

Posted by DeFo  on  06/12  at  10:16 AM

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Posted by achat e-liquide  on  09/12  at  02:11 AM

Allow me to confirm that Salugi was alive and well in Rego Park Queens as late as the mid to late ‘60s in the courtyard of PS 139. I recall that any accoutrement was an acceptable object not just hats, although they were the easiest to pull off of someone. Sometimes a bag, loose book or whatever would be grabbed to the simultaneous yell of “salugi”. What Fun ! :}

Posted by John Amarilios  on  03/15  at  05:45 PM

The priests at Precious Blood (Astoria) would grab the monsignor’s favorite altar boy and toss him around the rectory whilst screaming “Saloogie!”

Posted by Doctor B  on  06/04  at  11:57 PM

As someone tormented by Olympic-level saloogists as a child in the 40’s, I find disgusting all the people who think this game was fun. I can forgive a child for thinking so, but grown men are supposed to turn their backs on sadistic acts like this. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU!!! And I hope someday someone sues you for the sadistic acts of your children.


Posted by Michael Tanner  on  06/05  at  02:44 AM

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