Monday, May 2, 2011

143 Years Ago, Part VI

Continuing along with this historic series, here are excerpts from the sixth article published by The Southampton Press titled “Southampton Sixty Years Ago,” beginning in December of 1927 and written by Benjamin C. Palmer. (In other words, the series, written in 1927, was describing life in this village circa 1867.) This one focuses on youth amusements.

“A little further back say about 70 years ago, some of the young bloods wanted to dance but there was no place provided for in this straight-laced village….An old lady who owned and lived in Hollyhocks, who had evoluted from the narrowness of the times into times yet to come in a few years, had her kindly heart quickened into a sympathetic response, opened her home and invited the young people there. Then there was trouble. One was a member of the then all powerful Presbyterian Church. The dignified old elders were shocked. She was called before the session accused, refused to repent and was turned out of the church…….Games were the order of the evening…..

We recall two that were popular, “Ring Around,: when all hands formed a circle, if the size of the room permitted, alternating a girl then a boy, till the circle was completed, no wall flowers in those days, everybody took part clasping hands. Then one spare member took the center inside the circle, if the center gamester was a girl, she must slap the hand of some boy, then make a rush to break through the circle, with the boy chasing her with a strong determination to catch her. The clasped hands of the circle often formed too strong a barrier to break through. If she got through she was safe, but if the fellow caught her, oh my, what a fight some of the girls would put up to keep from being kissed, yet we know if they were caught and not soundly kissed (and some of the boys were past masters in the art) why they would have gone home mad, yes mad, all the way through. Then there was another game, “Button, Who’s got the Button,” whose business it was to find out. If they started in on the wrong side of the room, the master cried out “cold,” and as the hunt drew the hunter closer to the one who had the button, the cry was changed to “hot” and so it continued till the button was found hidden away in a shoe or pocket, a belt or any old place where it could be tucked in out of sight. The finder if a boy was permitted to kiss the girl as his reward. Silly – wasn’t it, yes but oh my, the young folks got lots of fun out of these games. There were other games too but these were the most popular, and germs were unheard of in these good old days……

There were no regular outside amusements in those days, but a temperance society was formed with held meetings Thursday evenings in the basement of the old Methodist Church, where the major portion of the young people used to gather more for the companionship than business and they had fun, lots of it.

But the best fun came after the meeting was over, the young fellows lined up outside the door, some of the girls had steady company, they got through the gauntlet safely, but any girl who happened to be along was soon greeted by one or more of the boys with “see you ter hum ter night.” Sometimes the fellows got the mitten, that meant the girl refused to have anyone of them see her “ter hum” themselves…."

I love these accounts and hope you do too. The next, part VII will end the series.

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