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All in together, girls; such fine weather girls …

When we have typical early spring weather — bright, beautiful sunshine with a sharp, clear breeze — it makes me think of the games we used to play at school when the snow was finally gone and the weather started to warm up. One sure sign of spring in our schoolyard was skipping ropes.

The school provided long, heavy, woven cotton ropes that were just right for skipping as a group. The rope would start turning and we’d begin chanting, “All .. all .. all ..” continuing until everyone except the two turners had “jumped in”, and then we began the rhyme.

This is the kind of skipping ropes we used.

All in together, girls, such fine weather, girls;

When we call your birthday, please run out!

January, February, March …

and each person would exit on their birthday. The game lasted until December — or until someone’s foot caught on the rope.

Because the boys played endless games of ball hockey on The Court, a piece of asphalt lined for volleyball and basketball, we girls were allowed to use the wide sidewalk at the front of the school for skipping — territory that was normally off limits.

I had a little brother, his name was tiny Tim, I put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim.

He drank all the water, he ate all the soap, I took him downstairs with a bubble in his throat.

We called for the doctor, we called for the nurse, we called for the lady with the alligator purse.

The ability to skip Double Dutch was really what separated the girls from the women, and I remember my elation at finally being able to jump into those fast double ropes without tripping. Sometimes we turned the Double Dutch ropes inward, which I thought was easier to jump, but I can’t remember what it was called.

We also loved to play games while throwing a red, white, and blue-striped sponge ball at the brick wall and we’d chant the following words, with a throw, action, and catch between each one:

“ordinary, moving, laughing, talking, one hand, the other hand, one foot, the other foot, clap at the front, clap at the back, front-and-back, back-and-front, tweedles, twydles, curtsy, salute-sy, touch the ground, and — deep breath — away she goes!

There were also games of “Donkey”, using a volleyball thrown against the wall, or hopscotch on one of several games painted on the pavement at one end of The Court. Hopscotch players needed sharp eyes though. Slap shots on the boys’ hockey net didn’t always go in!

One game unique to Hillside Public School was called “Stop”. I have no idea how it evolved, but it vaguely resembled baseball and was played on half of the volleyball court, using each of the four corners as bases.

A volleyball was lobbed to the “batter” who hit it with a closed fist, much like a volleyball serve. Like baseball, the player ran around the bases on a hit. But the ball was thrown in, not to a base, but to the catcher who would stand on home plate and yell “Stop!’ when they caught the ball. Any player not on a base was out.

Multiple players were allowed on a base at the same time, and stealing (or “sneaking” as we called it then) was allowed. With enough players on a single base, chains could be made so that a player who decided to “sneak” only had a few feet to run to the next base.

A teacher that we’ve stayed in touch with over the years said that he was never able to teach that game at other schools. They just didn’t get it. I’m not sure what that means exactly. Maybe that unusually good country air just created .. um .. unusual kids.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I lived in an era when every rope, ball, and hockey stick wasn’t a weapon — real or suspected — and that rivalry and hard feelings were usually sorted out by the end of recess. What a gift.


Phyllis writes words: words for stories, and words for books. Phyllis writes words for blogs too.

6 thoughts on “All in together, girls; such fine weather girls …

  1. Oh, such fun! I’d forgotten the words, thank you Phyllis!
    Can you remember the game with girls facing each other elastics around their ankles/knees and the jumper had to jump on and off the elastics? What was the pattern? In, On, Off, Twist, unTwist, back In and Out!

  2. We played a similar game with the elastic rope, but called it Jumpsies. I think we had our own version of that too, although I’ve heard of the one you describe. Who cares. It was all fun and it kept us active, didn’t it?

  3. Another wonderful blast from the past, Phyllis!

    Did you ever slip one of the rubber balls down into the foot of a nylon, then stand like a star fish against the brick wall of the school and thwack the ball over your head, off to each side then down between your legs all while singing one of those rhyming ditties? I can’t remember the chants we used to sing but it was a great game – hours of fun.

    Or – did you ever play Yogi? Where two girls stood about 4 feet apart, legs splayed with a thick nylon band wrapped around their ankles. The other girls would hop in and over the nylon band chanting songs – the object, if I remember correctly, was to complete your chant without tripping on the nylon bands and ending up face first on the pavement.

    No computers. No video games. No X-box. Just a rubber ball, some chalk and a pair of nylon stockings. Ah, the good old days.

    1. There seems to have been many variations on the Yogi / Jumpsies / rubber band chain / thick nylon band game. Maybe each neighbourhood had their own? We never played the game with the ball in the nylon stocking, but it sounds like fun. May have to try it … !!!

  4. Funnily enough Autumn asked me to send skipping ropes to school this week for her and her little friends. The rhyme she came home with was terrible though, ended something like fell down broke his balls – what colour was his blood! She didn’t get too much trouble since she didn’t even know what “balls” were but I quickly changed it to fell down broke his bone – what colour was his cast! Funny how fast grade 1 kids grow up once they are in the yard with the rest of the school population.

  5. I should be in bed but I have been going through the back stories i missed
    What happy stories to go to bed thinking about and I can draw on my own memories as I read yours as well Thanks again for sharing in such a delightful way

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