Dear Sean,
I was reading the blog of a local upcycling carpentry company here in Cleveland, Ohio. "Piece of Cleveland" salvages lumber from razed buildings and creates new furniture. The former Stanard Elementary School was one. The Stanard site is now a big community garden. Some of those old bricks now grace my garden walkways. It has been rumored that our beloved game of four square was born on that playground. Could you confirm or correct that notion? -Steve 10/3/2010

You know, Steve, we get a lot of people wondering how four square got started - sometimes we get messages from the people who invented it. Like Archie who wrote to us last year:

Wish I could be there to show ya'll how its done, and why we invented 4-square in April, 1956 at the Recreation Workshop/UMC, Leesburg, Florida. (we 4 summer camp cousellors needed a diversion before meals in the long lines at the chow hall, so our solution, after much experimentaion, was 4-square ball, with the "Waiting Line" being the judges!) Contact me if you have questions, pls. Archie H. Columbia, SC

He's not the first to lay such a claim, and I'll bet he's not the last.

This game is so darned simple that it probably shot up in a bunch of places at once. We have our theories. It'll be hard to pin the invention of a playground game on anyone without hard proof and I'm not sure 8 year olds keep great records.

I remember playing in the early 1960's in San Jose, CA. It was a very competitive and popular game on the playground of my elementary school. As I recall there were probably 3-4 squares, from notice to the most competitive. In 1968 I moved to the Central Valley in California where no one played, except the most uncoordinated, girly girls. Not what I was used to. Seems to me we used to have some rules about spinners and corners.

Over the years I have tried to recall the rules. Thank you so much for posting these.

I do remember the playground version was that if you go out, you were out and went to the end of the line, only to wait behind 10 or so kids to wait your turn to challenge the best of the best. Very fond memories.