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New from the land of Rolley Hole Marbles


RolleyHoleMan
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Hey all, originally I joined for some marbles identification which I will get to later. However I’m from Tennessee and will share something with you all (and hopefully get to posting documents if I can get the PDF to my computer, which may be a while). 
 

I am from East TN but moved to Middle TN to get my Bachelors in wildlife fisheries science, which then got me into working for Tennessee State Parks as an interpretative park ranger. I am seasonal so I have bounced around to a few parks, but the one I will talk about is Standing Stone State Park. 
 

Standing Stone State park is a pretty special place when it comes to many things, but the main topic will be... Marbles! So why is a state park associated with marbles? 
 

Standing Stone State park was founded in 1939 and was a project by the WPA, a FDR era New Deal project aimed at giving jobs to the locals, fixing erosion, and giving a recreation spot for the surrounding counties like Jackson, Overton, Putnam, and Clay county. In Overton, Clay, and Warren county (this one is Kentucky), there’s a regional game known to the locals as “Rolley Hole”. 
 

Rolley Hole is played on a 25x40’ dirt yard with a fine layer of silt, and 3 holes situated in a straight line in the middle of the yard a good distance apart. Two teams of Two people work their way up and down the yard 3 times getting their marbles into the hole while playing offense and defense. It is often described as crochet with marbles with aspects from many different sports. Players each play with a single hand made stone marble made from flint or agate, which is necessary since we shoot with force that will shatter glass marbles. These marbles are pretty special and are often passed down through generations. Making these marbles has changed over the years with the original processes like a bow drill or even a hole under a waterfall being used to roll the marble round. 
 

This is a pretty complicated game but we have some fresh videos on YouTube along with some gameplay that has commentary from players. 
 

We have been covered on various news broadcasts such as ESPN, The Heartland Series, PBS, and CBS news, and have a NEW broadcast coming up next September on CBS for our 40th Rolley Hole. 
 

At Standing Stone we have a yearly tournament for Rolley Hole started by TN State Park naturalist (now park manager) Bobby Fulcher who put in the Rolley Hole yard here at Standing Stone in 1982. His words are along the lines of the locals loved the game, so he put it a yard for public play. Like putting in a basketball court or tennis court. The yard was renamed and dedicated to Bud Garret, an African American blues musician and marble maker from Free Hill, TN. He passed in 1987 on his marbles yard while playing marbles.

Since then Standing Stone has been the host of many marbles related events such as sending a team of marbles players to play in the UK in 1992, in which they won. Later in 1998 they hosted the international marbles event which featured games like British marbles, Cherokee marbles, Ringer marbles, Tennessee Square, Georgia Rolley Hole, and of course Rolley Hole. 
 

Anyways that’s a lot to read. I teach people to play Rolley Hole, Georgia Rolley Hole, Ringer, and Schoolyard marbles. 
 

If there is interest I am working on a digitalizing project where I have been digitalizing photos and videos and will be posting (on YouTube), many of the previously mentioned marbles videos. All were found on a single beat VHS tape and were not known to exist beyond “Yeah we have some videos somewhere”. 
 

All I can say is I’m a bit nuts about marbles despite being no good. 
 

fun facts: 

Standing Stone State Park is the only specific location Charles Shultz mentions besides the thanksgiving episode. It was featured in a few comic strips in the 90s, and then was featured in a TV Movie titled “he’s a bully Charlie Brown”. It is the only Charlie Brown thing I know of where Charlie is good at something and considered not a loser. 
 

take special note of the marble trophy in the episode and it will have our name on it, though it will be dated 1939 (long before the tournaments took place here). 
 

 

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18 minutes ago, RolleyHoleMan said:

Hey all, originally I joined for some marbles identification which I will get to later. However I’m from Tennessee and will share something with you all (and hopefully get to posting documents if I can get the PDF to my computer, which may be a while). 

Welcome RolleyHoleMan,

Everyone here is into what you may bring to the table. Keep us informed and do not be afraid to post some images or links.

I look forward to what you have to offer.

Marble--On!!

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"Welcome to Marble Connection Chris"   :wave2:

          Looking forward to seeing what you have ??

                                             image.png.0707ee4728e5eb26076be37af6c43bda.png

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Yep those are the shots! There’s some comic strips that ran in the 90s somewhere I have to find. Some should be saved to my laptop. 
 

We used to be allowed to make and sell Peanuts shirts with the strips on them and some people do wear them. They used to sell is the rights for a symbolic $1.00, then after Schultz passed they upped the price, then didn’t allow it at all. 
 

In Tompkinsville they sell Dumus Walker shirts as well. 

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Quote

He passed in 1987 on his marbles yard while playing marbles.

This is the way, people!

@RolleyHoleMan, I assume the marble size must be 3/4" or ? Also I'd be interested to learn more about how they are made. Were they always made locally or did the players use the extant German agate marbles that would have been around from the late 19th and early 20th centuries?

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16 minutes ago, bumblebee said:

This is the way, people!

@RolleyHoleMan, I assume the marble size must be 3/4" or ? Also I'd be interested to learn more about how they are made. Were they always made locally or did the players use the extant German agate marbles that would have been around from the late 19th and early 20th centuries?

I believe it’s 3/4”. The Rolley Hole marble isn’t really checked or regulated. It’s an honor system here. Play with something large you may be shamed, however you’re a bigger target. Play with something smaller you will be a harder target, but you won’t have the force. Looking at marbles you can often see some small differences but nothing too much. I did have an issue with kids Rolley Hole because a local decided to try different materials. He was given unknown stones and made one that was a heavy metallic marble with considerable mass. My boss would not let me call out the player as she was a kid, but she was able to shoot opponents far away and the mass of her marble ensured little effect against the hit of opponents. That’s the only dishonesty I’ve seen in Rolley Hole. Since I am new and not local there is also an extra taboo there. This is a regional game and the people here are serious about it, and it’s a game of honor. Players are silent besides teammates whispering directions and both sides saying “good shot”. 
 

Anyways to answer your questions, It may be a possibility German marbles were used but I would say it is unlikely. Most players either made their marbles or knew someone locally who made them. It’s kinda like moms cooking. Nothing beats it, and it’s right there. 
 

This game was also played by the enslaved people of this area and the freed people (during the time of slavery) who had their own community in Free Hill, Tennessee. Their owner would grant freedom and give them a place to live. These people would probably not be getting German marbles. They had areas for making marbles and portable stones with a hole drilled in them they could move under waterfalls along with bow drills. Bud Garret was a decedent of these people and later created a machine known for the best marbles. 

Hopefully this helps some. 


As a fun side note, the current normal price for a Rolley Hole Marble is low end $15.00, and we sell some in the Standing Stone gift shop for that price. There are some fancier ones though which I will show. Sometimes makers polish them real shiny but these are difficult to hold onto. 
 

Here is a photo of mine. I always carry them as I am education based. So when people tell me they’re going to Standing Stone, I’ve got a speech and demonstration ready to go. 3 of mine are flint, one is Agate, and one is Dalmatian Jasper. 
 

The Dalmatian Jasper is the one people love to see, however due to its softness it would not be recommended for gameplay. Since I don’t have the years of experience I can’t shoot with the insane force and accuracy everyone else can, so for teaching the game it does well. When teaching I will have it, a white flint, a yellow flint, and the agate. That way everyone can remember which marble is theirs. 
 

As another side note, many parks do ship merchandise so those interested may be able to get one that way. However the best way to get one is to... Come to the National Rolley Hole tournament! There you can see your marble made before your very eyes and even have a part in its creation. Nothing beats that. 

 

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