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Marbles Tradition Continues at Melrose

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ROSEBURG, Ore. — Every school has its own rituals and ceremonies, but a tradition at one Roseburg-area elementary is a little unexpected.

When the recess bell rings at Melrose Elementary, especially on a sunny Friday afternoon, kids scramble out of their stuffy classroom.

Some rush for the playground eager for their shot at the monkey bars.

Others are just looking for a level surface.

“They love their marbles,” said John Crouch, Melrose Elementary Principal. “They love to collect them, categorize them and they really love to play.”

Here a marble is more than just a glass ball.

“I have frosties and cats eyes and red roosters,” said Abigail Beale.

“These ones are clearies. These kind are cats eyes,” said Alliyah Steinhoff.

“These are peewees. This is a jumbo,” said Bella Brown.

Don’t forget about an alley, bombsies, mib, or plunking.

These kids have the jargon down pat because marbles are a tradition at Melrose.

“Marble season starts right after spring break. Kids bring their marbles. We have a big assembly. We recognize the histories of marbles at Melrose,” Crouch said.

That history dates back generations for some students.

‘One said, ‘My grandmother had marbles when she went here and she gave me her marbles, so now I use them,” Crouch said.

Kids use them at recess rain or shine with their cases by their side.

“I just got a new case,” Steinhoff said.

Ready for a game at a moment’s notice.

“We play marble poker,” Steinhoff said.

“I like to play boulder poker,” Brown said.

“There’s a game called marble poker,” Crouch said.

“I like to play marble poker sometimes,” Beale said.

“Set three out, and you have to be able to hit them with another marble,” Steinhoff said.

There are even designated marble poker circles around the playground, over which tempers can flare, but rarely does anything get out of hand.

“What I love is the enthusiasm and I love the fact that the kids make this work without problems,” Crouch said.

It is after all just a game. So when the bell rings again, this time signaling a return indoors, hard feelings get packed up along with the multi-colored orbs.

It’s the end of a game even though the ritual at Melrose will continue for years to come.

“The fifth graders, there’s a tradition of them bringing a bag of marbles that they pass on to the kindergartners and any new students at the school. I just think that’s great,” Crouch said.

Melrose actually set the world record for the largest marble tournament back in 2009.

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