1 also attrib, also bend-a-bow, bendie-bow, bendy, bendy-go: = bender n 1; hence v phrr run bendy-bows, ~ bendies. [Evidently fanciful expansions of bender n 1; cf bend doughnut n, bendo(e) n, bendudelums n pl] esp sNEng
1896 DN 1.412 NH, Bend-a-bow: thin ice that bends when skated upon. . . bendy, Conn[ecticut]. 1897 Church Weekly 2.185 CN, Bridgeport, Conn.,—Some schoolboys were amusing themselves in the harbour by jumping from one ice cake to another. . . The practice of running “bendies,” as the boys call this dangerous play, is popular here, although many lives have been lost at it. 1920 Motor Truck 11.217 RI, The nearest previous experience to this was encountered by the drivers when as boys they ran “bendies” on the shaky ice. The bridge trembled like a reed in the wind, but failed to crack and vehicle, load and drivers got across whole. 1939 Long Is. Daily Press (Jamaica NY) 7 Feb 10/1, News that the ice on a neighboring pond is unsafe brings a crowd of moppets there to hop up and down on it. They make what we used to call “bendie-bows” and scamper along the undulating ice, thrilled at their narrow escape from a ducking. 1946 Coates Bitter Season 119, In Portland [ME], I fell in love with Veronica, . . but that was all mixed up with other pleasures—running bendies on the ice in the lake in Chestnut Street Park [etc]. 1950 WELS (Soft ice that will bend when you step on it, but will not break) 1 Inf, swWI, Bendy bow ice. 1956 N. Adams Transcript (MA) 25 Jan 6/7, Given, then, a body of water coated with ice in a somewhat elastic state and a small boy—or girl—with a mind for an hour—or maybe two minutes—of research into certain natural laws, and you had all the requisites for a game of bendy-bows. . . The idea was to venture to the middle of the ice surface and there, by means of what amounted to a rhythmic series of knee-bends, set the ice to swaying gently up and down. 1965–70 DARE (QR, near Qu. B33) Inf CT2, Did ya’ ever run bendy-bows on ice? You run out and it bends and bounces back repeatedly; (Qu. B35) Infs CT32, MI65, Bendy-bows; CT4, 17, Bendy-bow; MA17, 55, Bendy-go; CT36, Bendies; CT6, We used to run bendies. 1972 Nashua Telegraph (NH) 17 Jan 4/5, A bendy-bow was one of the most intriguing things a boy could find at this time of year when I was a kid. . . In case the phrase has gone out of print, it means ice resting on top of water which is almost solid enough to hold your weight but not quite.