Grew up in S/W Schuylkill (56th & Paschall ave) We played all the street games listed back in the 50’s and early 60’s. Hide and seek was referred to as “Ring up” wall ball was referred to on some corners as “chink” Loved them all! We also nailed the broken bats, taped the ball playing Hard ball, Buck-Buck, baby in the air and alot of half ball in the summer and “two hand touch” in the winter. Great era and a great time! They actually had “box ball leagues” in the summer at the Mitchell school yard at 56th and kingsessing ave!
I grew up in Summerdale (Oxford Circle) in the early-mid 80s. We played: * wireball * suicide (we called it “sooey”) * pitched quarters * flipped baseball cards * stoop ball (no one called it “step ball”) * Deadbox (not in Summerdale, but played with my * older cousins in Harrowgate) * Wall ball * Hand ball * stick ball * halfies * hose ball (my father grew up in kensington and taught us that) * wiffle ball (regular wiffle ball and padded bat with tennis ball — a lawn chair for the strike zone) * Spring * Freedom * Knock Knock Zoom Zoom * King of the Hill * hide and seek in the back alley/cubie holes * kick the can * foot hockey * 2 hand touch/1 hand touch * steal the bacon * straw races (when someone turned on the fire plug and we’d race drinking straws all the way down the street to the sewer) I can’t count how many pinkies, tennis balls and pimple balls I roofed from the age of 5 to 13!
Another version of the “o’lary” or O’Leary rhyme– One,two, three o”lary My first name is Mary If you think it’s necessary Look it up in the dictionary. We would sing this while bouncing an Indian rubber ball, and we would lift our leg over the ball at the end of each line–ie—o’lary, then Mary etc. When we were going to play tag, or hide and go seek we used to put our “dibs” up–(both hands made into fists) and one person would go around the circle and hit each person’s fist with hers, while we all sang “the song”. This was to determine who was “it” at the start of the tag, or hiding-go seek game. One such song was—“My mother gave your mother a punch in the nose. What colour was the blood? The person who’s fist was last hit—on the word blood–would call out a colour–ie-yellow-and the first person would spell the colour out-hitting each fist as she spelled it. When the final letter was said–ie-‘W”-the song would finish—as—“and you are IT. Funny song for kids to sing eh?? Did anyone ever do this type of song. We had quite a few different ones actually. I grew up in Ottawa, Canada–long time ago.
Johanna, just saw your message…yes: ringaleario was the game I’m referring to as “caw, caw”. It was basically hide and seek with teams, this website has a whole write up on this and Skully…check it out. Mary
I learned to play Ringeleavio while on vacation in the Adirondacks and brought it back to my neighborhood in MIddletown, NJ. We only played Hide and Seek between a few houses, but Ringaleavio took up the whole neighborhood. We only played it at night and I remember being soaked with sweat from all the running.
ollie ollie oxen free Dave Schreiber writes: What’s the meaning and origin of the phrase “ollie ollie oxen free”? I occasionally hear references to it as a phrase spoken by children, but I never used it or heard it when I was growing up (I was born in 1971 and grew up in San Jose, California). Ollie ollie oxen free is one of about a bajillion variants (I know–I counted) of a phrase used in various children’s games. As we have seen, children’s language and folklore hasn’t been as thoroughly studied as one would like, but in this case, researchers have tracked down a huge number of forms. The phrase is used in a variety of children’s chasing games, especially hide-and-(go-)seek. The rough form of this game is that a player (called “it”) gives other players a chance to hide, and then tries to find them. When “it” finds the first hider, he calls out some phrase indicating that the other players are “safe” to return “home,” at which point the person “it” found will succeed him as “it.” The original form of the phrase was something like all in free or all’s out come in free, both standing for something like all who are out can come in free. These phrases got modified to all-ee all-ee (all) in free or all-ee all-ee out(s) in free; the -ee is added, and the all is repeated, for audibility and rhythm. From here the number of variants takes off, and we start seeing folk etymologies in various forms. The most common of these has oxen replacing out(s) in, giving all-ee all-ee oxen free; with the all-ee reinterpreted as the name Ollie, we arrive at your phrase, which, according to the Dictionary of American Regional English, is especially common in California. Norwegian settlement areas have Ole Ole Olsen’s free. For the out(s) in phrase, we also see ocean, oxford, ax in, awk in, and even oops all in. This multiplicity of examples demonstrates the unsurprising fact that young children often have little idea what phrases like this mean, and transmute them into variants that involve more familiar terms, losing the original meaning in the process. It’s difficult to determine early dates for these expressions–most of them weren’t collected until the 1950s and later–but based on recollections of the games, it seems that they were in common use by the 1920s, and probably earlier (home free is found in print in the 1890s, and the game hide-and-seek is at least four centuries old).
Original author: Mitchell D. Hirsch, Ph.D. [e-mail]
I have great memories of marathon hide-and-go-seek games in my neighborhood in southern California. I have a question, perhaps a bit offbeat. I have a passionate interest in languages and terminology, and that prompts me to ask: what is the origin of that strange phrase used in this game to bring all players (for whatever reason) out of their hiding places at once? I’m referring to the one that sounds to my ears like “Allie allie oxen free.” Oxen?? Referring to the animal? Seems unlikely. My best guess is that the meaning is: All _____ are free to come in without becoming “it” or befalling some other “penalty.” But what really goes in the blank and what is its origin?
Original author: Pat Harris (westsidegirl) [e-mail]
On Manhattan’s West Side (65 Street),it was the “slidin’ pon,” hide and go seek was “hine go seek.” Anyone remember iron tag? City kids were independent and seldom bored. There was always something going on. We entertained ourselves.
Trying to find more about Kick the Can. I remember two versions. One a hide and seek type game and the other was called kicked the can running bases in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. It basically was a baseball (or stickball) type game that began when the kicker (the batter) kicked the can and began running towards first. Don’t remember much after that, like how one was tagged out, etc.
I WAS BORN IN THE BRONX AND DELIVERED AT THE OLD LINCOLN HOSPITAL ON JACKSON AND WESTCHESTER AVE IN 1935. AND LIVED ON UNION AVE.BETWEEN 155 AND 156 ST. AS I GOT OLDER (6YRS) THE GUYS ON MY STREET AND THE GUYS ON UNION BETWEEN 156 AND WESTCHESTER AVE.WE WOULD ALWAYS COMPETE AGAINST EACH OTHER MOST OF US WENT PS#52 AND THOSE THAT DIDN’T WENT TO ST.ANSELMS CATHOLIC SCHOOL.WE WERE ALWAYS ON THE STRETS PLAYING STICKBALL, HIDE AND SEEK, RINGALEVIO, COPS AND ROBBERS, PUNCHBALL, FLYING KITS OFF THE ROOFS WITH RAZOR BLADES ON THE KITS TAIL TO CUT THEIR STRING. WE BECAME VERY CLOSE IN ALL THOSE YEARS GROWING UP NO ONE EVER SEEM TO MOVE AWAY. WE WOULD HANG OUT AT A COMMUNITY CENTER CALLED THE MELAROSE HOUSE OR ON THE STREET CORNER AT 156 AND UNION AVE. WE STARTED TO BRAKE UP WHEN WE LEFT FOR THE ARMED SERVICE OR GOT MARRIED. IN OUR TEENS WE FORMED ONE STICKBALL TEAM THE “LANCERS” AND PLAYED GREAT STICKBALL ON THE WEEKENDS FOR MONEY. THE LOCAL BOOK MAKERS AND STORE MERCHANTS WOULD BE THE HEAVY BETTERS. WE PLAYED TEAMS LIKE THE LUCK 7’S, THE NIGHTS THE ROCKETS NAMES I DONT REMEMBER FROM WALES AVE AND LONGWOOD AVE. THOSE WERE GREAT TIMES.