Did people used to play marbles? Really? I don't want to doubt a whole generation, or generations for that matter, but did they actually do that? I tried it as a kid (I think I still have the marble someplace) but wouldn't have really called it a success.
A quick search on the internet does indeed show lots of beautiful marbles. I could see how the different patterns would appeal to someone. They would have appealed to me, but my cheap bag of marbles came from some discount store and they all looked the same. The pictures make them seem marvellous, but that wasn't really my experience.
Another quick search of the internet brings up incredible pictures of kids playing marbles, diagrams of kids playing marbles and more than one oil on canvass painting of kids playing marbles. Granted most of the clothes look like something out of Gangs of New York, or Once Upon a Time in America--but that is probably because nostalgia for those eras is stronger than nostalgia for the 1970's--and we should all take comfort in that.
I also came across a whole pile of websites devoted to the rules of marbles. So, I must conclude, albeit with a touch of incredulousness, that people did in fact play marbles. I will even go so far as to say that a small number of people probably still play marbles today (It wouldn't surprise me if there isn't a Japanese association for this, but I am not going to search for it.)
So what happened? Did it just die away? Did it put up a fight?
I guess things change. That means that someday kids won't play with hockey cards. Who's kidding who, kids don't play with hockey cards anymore. They put them in perfect acid free binders, organized and stacked neatly on shelves in hermetically sealed rooms. Though I never did put them against my spokes I did bash the heck out of them on walls, floors, and any other hard surface. Since I never had Gretzky's rookie card, I am not losing any sleep over it.
What other things are destined to die? The 8-track and the cassette are dead. The Drive-In is almost gone. DVD rental is almost gone. CD's are clinging by a last thread. I suppose one day, even the iPod will disappear. I hope we will always have plastic model car kits--though maybe the material will change. I hope we will always have model trains. I hope we always have RC cars.
As for now, I just lament what is gone.