Not it!

Hot Toddy at Hot Toddy’s Toaster Oven has a great post from Friday about Camp Songs. It instantly transported me back to my childhood and helped me to remember some really great times growing up. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out.

His post led me to recall another childhood memory– one that seemed insignificant back then, but now makes me long for the days when we used to play “Tag” or “Kick the Can” with the neighborhood kids.

The most important part of any neighborhood game was choosing who was “It.” This was done in any number of ways– ranging from the game being played to where you grew up and how you learned the ritual in question.

One way, of course, was to count off “1-2-3 NOT IT!” and whoever was the last person saying “NOT IT!” was, of course, It.

But the best way to choose who was it was to have everyone put one foot in a circle and have someone do a version of the classic “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo.”

“Eeny Meeny Miney Mo” goes as far back as anyone can remember. My mom and dad said the rhyme, and their parents probably said the rhyme. Unfortunately, back in the early days, the rhyme included a racial epithet that I will not repeat here… but when I was a kid, we learned it like this:

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he hollers, let him go
Eeny Meeny Miney Mo.

This one was great for choosing who was “It” and getting it over with. There were others that took care of this as well, such as:

Inka Dink a bottle of ink
The cork fell off and
You
Do
Stink!

But sometimes– especially if there were a lot of kids involved– it was more fun to have some elimination rounds to find out who would be it. So we said one of the many elimination alternatives, such as my favorite…

Engine Engine Number Nine
Going down Chicago Line
If the train runs off the track
Do you want your money back? (Person chosen would say yes or no)
“Y-E-S” spells “YES” and out you go with a dirty, dirty dishrag on your toe!”

Sometimes, just to make things more painful (and to protect yourself from being “Out” if you were doing the rhyme and you could tell it would land on your toe,) you would add the following:

Not because you’re dirty
Not because you’re clean
Just because you kissed a girl (or boy)
Behind a (big fat dirty) magazine!

Other “It-choosing” rhymes included:

Mickey Mouse built a house
How many bricks did he use?
(chosen person would give a number and the rest of the rhyme would conclude as above.)

Or this classic:

Bubble gum, bubble gum
In a dish
How many pieces
Do you wish? (chosen person would give a number and so on…)

And then of course…

My mother socked your mother in the mouth
What color was the blood? (chosen person gave a color, which was spelled out and so on…)

So how did you choose who was “It” for your neighorhood games? And what were some of the games that you played? Let’s enjoy this trip down memory lane together… comment away!

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