Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Playtime at Oaklands

"All-in-for-US-Cavalry" the boys would chant, as they formed a huge chain around the Junior boys' playground during playtime. More and more would join, and once a critical mass was attained, the chain would split up into cowboys and Indians, and play proper would begin. As well as US Cavalry, obviously inspired by what was going on at ABC Minors at the time, there would be "All-in-for-Zulus-and-Welsh" (the 1964 movie Zulu). Note the Anglo-Saxon imperialists vs. Natives theme in both games. Oftentimes the chain of boys, arms around one another's shoulders, would form under the shelter at the side of the playground opposite the school building. Here was a long wooden bench, the boys would stand on the bench stamping their feet in time in a show of play masculine aggression.

Other games played in the playground; the classic British Bulldog ("British Bulldog One Two Three!"), Chain-he, was a game based on tag, where two boys holding hands chased others running around on their own; when tagged, the boy would join the chain, until the entire playground was one long chain trying to catch the last single boys out there. There were also piggy-back fights, with two teams of horses and riders, trying to pull the others down. A sophisticated variation on this was chariot racing (or fights) in which two boys (the horses) would link arms, between them, bending down, a third boy (the chariot), usually big and strong, and a fourth boy (the charioteer) sitting on the back of the 'chariot' boy, who was supported by the two 'horses'. Two or more ensembles like this would smash into one another, the aim being to physically break up the other team.

While the boys were busy in rough-and-tumble, the Junior girls (who shared a playground with the Infants) would also be parading around arms around each others' shoulders, emulating the Tiller Girls and performing high kicks. "Keep your sunny side UP! UP!" they would sing as they danced around the playground together.

These were the 1960s, but the traditions that we children were drawing on were already decades old; each generation learning from the older children that went before.

1 comment:

polandian said...

Chain-he (what a bizarre name that is) was still alive and well in my 70's childhood. Zulus and Welsh was, however, replaced by freeform Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica mayhem. And what about 40-40? What did that mean anyway?