This month’s Twig is all about childhood games, but first, some business. The 30th anniversary of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English is quickly approaching. You’ll hear more about the plans for celebration over the next little while. The English Language Research Centre is planning a Symposium on Newfoundland English to mark the DNE milestone taking place November 9-10 at Memorial University. The Symposium will feature a tour of the ELRC, a Canadian Language Museum exhibit, a day of presentations and talks on Newfoundland English, followed by an evening event and reception. Keep an eye out for more information, coming soon!
In the meantime, this fantastic summer will soon be coming to a close, the kids will be returning to school, and the days will get shorter. Luckily, there’s still some time left to play all kinds of games outside and bask in the magnificent weather that has stuck around all season. This is the second Twig entry on the subject of childhood games. You can read part one here.
There are many variations on this game. One variation involves a short stick – sometimes known as the tiddly stick or puss-stick – that is placed across two rocks or junks of wood. A long stick it used to make the shorter stick airborne as illustrated below. The long stick is then laid across the stones. An opponent then stands where the short stick landed and tries to knock the long stick off the stones by throwing the short stick.Another variation involves one team throwing a stick and another team trying to knock the stick out of the air. A third variation is one where one team projects the stick and the other team has to try and catch it. Not surprisingly, flick the stick is another name for the game. Have you played this game? What are your rules? The citations in the DNEcollection don’t reveal a lot about the scoring. If any of you know how to win, please let us know!
The word blind is big in childhood game terminology. In hide and seek, or barrel over, the seeker is to go blind while counting. Another game, blind-buck-and-davy (also known as blindman’s buff) requires closing one’s eyes. Blind hopscotch sounds dangerous but it’s not clear, from the one DNE word-file from Ramea, how this version of hopscotch is carried out. This word-file also mentions a game called pudsie, which does not appear in the DNE. A friend’s aunt from Ramea says that, for blind hopscotch, “you had to turn around and go through the hopscotch blocks backwards… [and] with pudsie you had to cross your feet when you got to the single block in the center and there was a whole skipping routine”.In a game of jacks, blind bulls is a challenge. Only part of the citation appears in the DNE but the full citation appears below.
Chasing games are always popular when you’re young (and maybe when you’re older too!). The tag-man or it has also been called beaver in Newfoundland. To be safe from the beaver, you need to get to a bounty or a prescribed place, home or base, where you will be safe.
Another word for the safe zone is goolos. This is not the only meaning of goolos though. It can alternatively designate the physical goal or it can be an exclamation of scoring in a game like football. Gools is another name for hockey in parts of Fogo.
In many of these games, you don’t need much equipment. Lazy-stick is an example of such a game. All you need is a stick and two willing participants. The lazy-stick is a test of strength and can be played by adults, so the kids aren’t having all the fun!
Adults might also be interested in the game cat or cat-stick. This is a winter game so you’ll have to wait a few months. Itcan be played on the ice and one variation is similar to tiddly.
If games aren’t what you’re looking for, perhaps you’d like a toy that’s quite simple to make. A chuckle-de-muck, also known as a truckly-muck, trucklemuck or truckly is just that sort of toy and one of the DNE word-files contains an illustration shown below. All you need is a stick, a paint can lid, and a nail for hours of enjoyment. There are other, more complex trucklemucks described in the DNE entry.
So get out there and enjoy what’s left of the summer. Try some of these games or let us know if you’ve got a favourite game not covered here! Finally, does anyone know what “hat ball” is?