Rhymes & Calls

Is the rainy weather giving you cabin fever? Try a game! This copy of Games and Sports for Young Boys, published in London in 1859, provides its readers with hundreds of outdoor and indoor activities. Some games call for special equipment, while others use props, such as handkerchiefs, that would have been easily at hand. It is inscribed “Robby Haines–from Pa and Ma on his 5th birth day–4 mo. [April] 10, 1862.”

One of my favorite chapters is called “Rhymes & Calls.” It provides its readers with rhymes for counting out participants (our equivalent of “Thirty Horses in a Stable” or “Eenie, Meenie, Miny Mo”) and with jingles for games with players who alternate sides (tug-of-war, see-saw). Here are a few of my favorites:


“One-ery, two-ery ziccary seven;
Hollow bone, crack a bone, ten or eleven;
Spin spon, it must be done;
Twiddledum, twaddledum, twenty-one.
O-U-T, spells out,
A nasty dirty dish-clout;
Out boys out!”


“Tit, tat, toe, my first go;
Three jolly butcher boys all in a row;
Stick one up, stick one down,
Stick one on the old man’s crown.”


“Multiplication is a vexation,
Division is as bad;
The Rule of Three, it puzzles me,
And Practice drives me mad.”