Olly, Olly, Oxen Free

After a bit of research, I discovered this is the phrase used to end certain children’s games, like Hide-n-Seek. In my neck of the woods, we’d call out “Ally, ally, in free!” While the entomology of the phrase isn’t certain, there are some interesting suppositions and you can check them out on WIKIPEDIA. I especially like the idea it’s actually German in origin. I don’t know why, it’s just cool.

When I was growing up, the neighborhood gang would gather on warm summer evenings for games of hide-n-seek, tag, Mother-may-I, and June bug fights. June bugs didn’t just come out in June. They hit with the warm weather of May and stuck around until the first freeze. They swarm around lights and in southwest Oklahoma, they were thicker than mosquitoes. They can fly, crawl, and have sticky feet that cling to hair and clothes. You’d peel one off your shirt and hurl it at whoever was closest. This was usually followed by dads bringing out garden hoses and spraying us down, ostensibly to clean off the bug juice. 😀 Those were the days!

voices in my headSo why am I feeling nostalgic? I have no freaking clue. It’s certainly not summertime. I haven’t been to my hometown in…well, way longer than I want to remember. There are no kids or grandkids hanging around to trigger memories. But there I was, in the middle of writing a love scene, and this phrase kept repeating in my head. Gotta love those voices, right? There’s a message in there somewhere, I just have to get quiet enough and listen hard enough to hear it.

I’m taking a four day weekend. While I’m not quite going web-free, I won’t be on line near as much as usual. There’s a reason. A fun reason. One I’ll share next week. I’m not sure I’ll have anything posted for Tuesday, but I’ll be here Wednesday at the latest with an update. In the meantime, Iffy has put away her scissors. She’s advising me to be quiet on the WIP, too. There’s something…missing. I’m going in search of it for the next few days. And maybe, if I’m lucky, when I yell, “Ally, ally, in free!” the missing pieces will appear, fall into place and I won’t be “It” anymore. 😀

So…what was your favorite childhood game? And whose planning a big weekend?

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About Silver James

I like walks on the wild side and coffee. Lots of coffee. Warning: My Muse runs with scissors. Author of two award-winning series--Moonstruck and The Penumbra Papers, Red Dirt Royalty (Harlequin Desire) & other books! Purveyor of magic, mystery, mayhem and romance. Lots and lots of romance.
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6 Responses to Olly, Olly, Oxen Free

  1. Janet says:

    Oh, my, you’ve taken me back this morning, Silver. Yes, we played hide n’ seek, Mother May I, tag and Red Light, Green Light. But we never, ever played June Bugs. We didn’t have June Bugs where I grew up – I’ve only come to know them from living here in Nova Scotia. They are horrible things – and I thank the powers that be that they really are June Bugs – all summer from May to first freeze? UGH!!!

    Ooh, all I’m curious as to what you’re up to this weekend. And good luck finding the missing piece of the puzzle on the WIP. It must be big if Iffy’s put away her scissors!

    • Silver James says:

      I’ll talk about it next week. 🙂 It’s all good. Very good. I’m excited, even though I have a boat load of stuff to accomplish today. Of course, when I don’t really have time to write, Iffy is over there in the corner bouncing like a Jack Russell on speed. Figures, right?!? 🙄

  2. jblynn says:

    I hope you find what you’re looking for and that you have a great weekend.

    Your list reminded me of Simon Says and Freeze Tag. 🙂

  3. bookwyrm217 says:

    We’d play Red light, Green light. Dad would be the only dad out in the street playing ball with us. And water fights with hoses and buckets and anything were usually started by my dad. He was the biggest kid on the street. And we all learned it as Olly, Olly, Oxen Free! Could be because my best friend next doors’ parents were from Germany??? No idea.

    • Silver James says:

      How could I forget Red Light, Green Light?!? And I bet that’s why y’all said oxen! We were too Okiefied. 😉 There was the house on the corner, our house to the west and the preacher’s house to the south. Three hoses and dads not afraid of the nozzles. 😀 Fun times!

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