Friday, September 16, 2005

Games without Frontiers

Allie and I were playing a rather one-sided version of Miss Mary Mack the other day. I have no idea what you call a game like this, one of those arms crossing, hand-clapping, chanting kinds of games. I hadn't done Miss Mary Mack since I was a child, but I had no trouble remembering all the words or the hand motions. My version goes like this: "Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in black, black, black, with silver buttons, buttons, buttons, all down her back, back back, backā€¦"

Allie's contribution to this game is to put up her hands and laugh at me while I do all the chanting and hand and arm motions.

It got me thinking about all the other childhood games I used to play. Are any of these games still around, I wonder? Has the change in the dynamics of childhood play (to scheduled playdates and far more limited freedom) affected the types of games that kids play?

I'm also curious about the regionality (hey, I can make up words if I want) of the games I played. Were they limited to a specific geographic area? To just a certain period of time? Jeff, for example, grew up in a town only about 30 minutes away from mine, but he hasn't heard of a lot of the games I played. Which brings up another question -- are some of these gender-specific?

Here are some of the games I played. (Note: I grew up in South Jersey in the seventies.)

Red Rover (I don't know how this game was played; I just remember the catch phrase "Red rover, red rover, come over)
Red Light, Green Light
Mother May I (kind of like a combination of Simon Says and Red Light, Green Light)
Coming Up to Greenville (an aggressive game we played on the school playground, involving taunting, and then physically pulling the person selected to go to Greenville)
Baby in the Air (involved throwing a ball in the air and guessing a color that someone else had thought of )
Jump rope games: Chase the Fox, Blondie and Dagwood, Teddy Bear, Chinese jump rope
Freeze tag
TV tag (truly lame version of tag in which you could not be caught if you squatted and shouted out the name of a TV show. If you were unlucky enough to be It during this game, you'd never catch anyone.)
Jail break (Aggressive version of tag, rife with opportunities for bullying)
Huckle buckle beanstalk (kind of like I Spy plus Hide and Seek)

I am really interested in hearing if anyone else has heard of or played these games. If not, what games did you play as a child? To make this interesting from an anthropological perspective, please also let us know where and when you grew up. And if you normally just lurk here, I'd love to hear from you, too! Really!

Ready, set, play!