Here's another photo series I found in an old issue of Life Magazine (April 26, 1937). I had to kill some time in the UCSD library this morning, which is why I was looking through old magazines. The photos were titled "South Carolina Negroes Play 'Fireball Dodging'".
Here are the captions for the five photos (complete with the racist language characteristic of the 1930s):
1) A new game invented by the Negroes of South Carolina is called "Fireball Dodging." Balls are made of burlap.
2) The balls are then drenched in kerosene. In preparation for a game several dozen such balls are made.
3) When night comes the burlap balls are set afire. The players spread out in a field and start throwing them.
4) "Fireball Dodging" is played chiefly by field hands on the cotton plantations. The object of the game is to hit someone else and to avoid getting hit yourself.
5) This darkie is losing. "Fireball Dodging" was uncovered by a Universal movie cameraman who made these pictures for a short called "Stranger than Fiction."
These photos were presented as a factual news item, but I have a hard time believing that anyone ever really played "fireball dodging." After all, the potential for incinerating one of your friends seems a little high. I can't find any references to it, except for this one article. My guess is that either the cameraman dreamed up this game, and arranged for some guys to pretend to play it, or the field hands were pulling the wool over the cameraman's eyes.