Pichicuás, Cupertino, Chava Flores, the cinema and the game that the strange land

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In the film Blue Sky it is observed to Hank Marshall (Tommy Lee Jones) taking time out of his tense life as an Army officer to play marbles with his daughter Becky Marshall (Anna Klemp) and thus counteract for an instant the effects of the crisis that they suffer as a family due to Carly’s (Jessica Lange) depression.

The film is from 1994, year when it was strange to see the game of marbles on the screen, that by then it was in extinction within the great cities and some rural regions. But the story is set in the sixties, period in which it served as an entertainment to be practiced even on carpets.

For 2003, in Mexico, the director Carlos Salces premiered Left handed, a film whose plot focuses on the game of marbles, mainly within the framework of the children’s universe. His bet was a modern take on this classic fun that inevitably it goes back to the nostalgia of the great showcase that was for girls and boys who grew up between land or urban areas not yet gentrified.

Such cinematic nods to child’s play that today the strange land goes back to one of the songs that Chava Flores composed and sang to preserve in popular culture how fun marbles are, Pichicuás and Cupertino. He did it through a happy letter that narrates what a challenge is like; the singer-songwriter uses a perfect mix that explains the rules and the slang used by Mexicans during the fifties.

However, behind the joy and folklore that his song transmits and tells, there is a tragedy as motivation. In his book Stories from my neighborhood, Chava Flores details that he pays tribute to Raúl ‘Pichicuás’ Mercado, a friend from his childhood with whom he was going to play marbles in a vacant lot when he left school but who was hit by a speeding car.

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The challenge that Pichicuás and Cupertino dispute in fiction became a testimony of the game that little by little has disappeared in different territories. While in some places it is practically non-existent, states like Chiapas in Mexico and countries like Palestine come to offer images of children entertaining themselves with marbles, reason why his resistance to disappearance is maintained thanks to childhood, or rather to a Pichicuás and a Cupertino with “A line and a hole that they painted on the ground of the lot.”


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