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Posted on: February 3, 2020

Mayor's Message - February

Syracuse City Est 1935

What do these terms mean to you: boulder, bonker, masher, plumper, popper, shooter, thumper, smasher, taw, bumbo, crock, bumboozer, bowler, tonk, tronk, godfather, tom bowler, fourer, giant, dobber, dobbert, hogger, biggie or toebreaker? Perhaps you’re familiar with knuckling down, ante up, fudging, quitsies, keepsies, elephant stomp, bombies, leaning tops or dead duck. Mibs come with names like: Comet, Steely, Caty’s Eye, Tri-Lite, Black Eyed Pea, Sunburst, Bumblebee, Aggie, Clearie, Purie, Swirl, Watermelon, Girl Scout, Cub Scout, Spiderman, Dragonfly and Indian. Remember Indian, please!

If you know the term “mib”, then you might be a “mibster”! These words applied to marbles and the games played with them. As a grade schoolboy, I loved these games. My father taught me! We played with circles and lines drawn on the ground. We played with holes cut into shoeboxes. We played with shallow holes dug into the ground; my favorite was called Pots, and I loved to play “keepsies”—until I lost! As a small child, I remember my mother teaching me to count using a song she sang and then encouraging me to sing back to her. Perhaps you can sing along:

One little, two little, three little Indians
Four little, five little, six little Indians
Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians
Ten little Indian boys! [repeated backward]

We live in different times, now. I’m unsure whether it’s appropriate today to teach children to count singing “Ten Little Indians”. I recognize times change. But, in my day, I, along with many others, learned to count at Mother’s knee, singing. It’s my history; perhaps it’s yours.


At one point I had the best and largest marble collection on the playground. I placed them in Mason® jars and buried them in our backyard during my “Treasure Island” days! For a season, I counted my marbles daily. My favorite marbles were my Indians. They were a solid color with irregular striping. Actually, as time went on, it was more fun to count than to play with them. I became averse to losing them. My holdings became my treasure.

Every ten years, the US Constitution requires that we count more than marbles, and not just those with Indian heritage. This process began in 1790. In March of this year, the 2020 Census will begin. You will be asked to participate. You may respond in three ways. You may use online services, your phone, or you may respond through the mail. In early summer, non-respondents will be visited in their homes.

It is important that everyone living in the city, in your household at this time, be accounted for. Billions of dollars, many services and representation hinge upon an accurate count of all residents of Syracuse City. You may glean more information about the 2020 Census by going online to: https://2020census.gov/en/what-is-2020-census.html.

The phrase “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is often attributed to W. Edwards Deming. I believe it to be true. Regrettably, I quit counting my marbles. I buried them once and lost the treasure map that I’d created to find them. And therefore, lost my marbles! You may agree.

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