Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One child is chosen to be "It"

Yeah, the children's game of "Tag, You're It" has taken on a whole new meaning for this generation thanks to It, aka Pennywise, aka Bob Gray. Have we ever before had a situation in which a harmless, two-letter word has taken on such terrifying connotations? Thanks, Stephen King.

(There was an old Far Side cartoon with the caption "It's 'Them,' gentlemen." A man has opened the door and there's a giant ant on the other side. Obviously, that joke will start to lose its relevance, because future generations will not be familiar with the atomic-age, giant-ants horror movie Them! But I digress.)

So, anyway, it's fun — at least in my warped brain — to examine old books about children's games and overlay modern fictional horrors onto them. And so that brings us to the 1923 staplebound booklet Active Games for Schoolroom and Playground by Lincoln P. Goodhue.1 One of the games listed for first-graders is "Token Tag" (shown at the top of this post), and it has this description:
One child is chosen to be "It," and runs about the room, up and down the aisles, carrying a token (an eraser, book, or some other object). He places his token on any desk he chooses, and is immediately chased by the owner of that desk, who carries the token along and tries to overtake and tag him before he can reach his own seat. If he is caught, the pursuer becomes "It," if not, the game continues until someone succeeds in tagging him.
Deadlights not included. Feel free to use a red balloon as the token, kids!

This dandy 102-page booklet by Mr. Goodhue is packed with other great, nostalgic and sometimes bizarre games. As you can see above, "Poison" is another exciting pastime for the little ones to enjoy. Start teaching them the Game of Thrones methods at an early age!

I could get a bunch of posts out of this book. For now, I'll just leave you with a tantalizing list of some of the other game titles:

  • Prince Tiptoe
  • Flower Twins
  • Where is Your Letter Going?
  • Storming the Castle
  • Bean Race
  • Cross Tag
  • Wood Tag
  • Squat Tag
  • Slap Tag
  • Touch Wood and Whistle
  • The Farmer is Coming
  • Tommy Tiddler's Ground
  • The "Red Lion" Game
  • Squirrels in Trees
  • Forcing the City Gates
  • Bear in the Pit
  • Advancing Statues
  • Chicken Market
  • Postman
  • "Have You Seen My Sheep?"
  • The Apprentice2
  • The Mayor of Kokomo
  • The King of France
  • London Bridge
  • Ring Around a Rosy
  • The Farmer in the Dell
  • Charley Over the Water
  • The Muffin Man
  • Knave in the Garden
  • Baste the Bear
  • Pom Pom Pullaway
  • Brownies and Fairies
  • Prisoner's Base
  • Wolf
  • Ante Over

What games do you want to hear more about? What games did you play in grade school? Float me your thoughts!

1. This is probably Goodhue. The time period is correct and I can't imagine the name is too common.
2. Nope, nope, nope, nope. That's way worse than Pennywise.

1 comment:

  1. I want to refuse to comment on account of the floating pun, but I will play along and say we played a LOT of Red Rover all the way up through high school.