Play Parties and Games on Kansas Homestead

As I am an old-timer, I want to
tell about old-time play parties. They were enjoyed by young and old and were
our main source of entertainment.

Usually young men or women in the
neighborhood, looking for diversion and entertainment, would hit on the idea of
a party. They would ride a horse or walk to a friend’s house and ask, “How
about a party tomorrow night?” Usually the friend would be agreeable, so
off they would go to other houses until every family around had been invited.
The parties were neighborhood affairs.

Sometimes at a party one of the
guests would volunteer to be the host for the next party and he would issue his
invitation to the group. If a new family moved into the -community, they would
be invited, too.

Most homes were small and more
often than not a bed had to be taken down or a table moved out to make room for
the activities. The games we played were not much different from square dancing
except that we danced to singing instead of fiddle music. We sang as we danced.
None of us minded the rough floors made of native lumber. In the summertime we
often played in the yard.

No one thought of serving
refreshments – well, maybe a pan of apples would be passed around or at
Christmas popcorn balls would be offered.

Most parents played the games with
their children while others told stories or sang songs to the little folks. I
had my father as a partner many times when Mother didn’t care to play.

In most of the games the words of
the song told us what to do and after a few tries the routines were easy and
fun. Here is an example of the calls in a game we knew as Tidy-ho.

“Pass one window, tidy-ho,
pass two windows, tidy-ho,
Pass three windows, tidy-ho, pass
four windows, tidy-ho,
Skip to the center and bow to your
And we’ll all go jingle,

The verse was repeated for each
couple in the game.
Other games I recall were Pig in
the Parlor; Pretty Little Girl in
Georgia; Skip to My Lou, My Darling; Old Dan Tucker; Buffalo Gal, Are You
Coming Out Tonight; Evelina Roll Around; Farmer in the Dell.

The automobile and new forms of
inexpensive entertainment spelled the end of play parties, but many of the
songs have not been forgotten.

Anna Atkinson

Back in 1955 a call
went out from the editors of the then
Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true
pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their
children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers,
all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made
to create a book, and in 1956, the first
Folks title – My Folks Came in a
Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine
other books have since been published in the
My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to
make those stories available to our growing online community.