Opie collection of children's games & songs

Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie and an interview with Frances Smith from North Carolina, USA (part 1 of 4)

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  • Subjects

    Children's games; Children's songs

  • Recording date


  • Is part of (Collection)

    Opie collection of children's games and songs

  • Recording locations

    London, England

  • Interviewees

    Smith, Frances (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Opie, Iona (speaker, female)

  • Speakers

    unidentified (children)

  • Abstract

    Part 1 of 4. [00:00:00 - 00:15:40]. This recording, from the American School, London, contains two clapping songs and an interview with a thirty-one year old female speaker, Frances Smith, from Bushy Fork, North Carolina, who describes and discusses with Iona the games that she used to play as a child. The recording starts with two schoolgirls performing the clapping games 'Under the Bram Bush' [00:00:02 - 00:00:23] and 'A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea' [00:00:27 - 00:02:05]. After performing this song, Iona establishes that one of the girls learnt the song while living in Boston, America, and the other while living in Sydney, Australia. The recording then breaks and Iona is now with Frances Smith who grew up in North Carolina and now lives in London. Frances describes the various games she would play with her siblings and parents while growing up in the small town, Bushy Fork. She and her siblings would often play in the pine forests near to her house and would create 'houses' from the trees around them. She explains that they would bend branches together and tie them with string to create a roof and would the hang old light bulbs inside. She recalls that during her childhood 'Westerns' became a popular genre of TV programme and she would watch them and then pretend that these tree-houses were 'saloons'. She would play the role of 'Miss Kitty', the owner of the saloon, and her brothers would 'ride' up to visit her. Iona notes that this type of imaginative play is 'natural for children', specifically those with access to the countryside. One of the young girls who is sat in on the interview remarks: 'I hardly ever go to the country' and so does not play such games [00:02:06 - 00:05:27]. Frances then asks the children with her if they played the game 'May I?' and the girls note that they called it 'Mother May I?' and played it in America and Australia [00:08:55 - 00:10:25]. They then move on to discuss the game 'Fox and the Ribbons' and Frances recalls that she would play this game with her mother and father. The players would have to stand in a ring, with the 'mother' in the middle who would tell the players what colour ribbon they had. The 'fox' would then approach the circle and ask: 'have you got any ribbons today?' and would then proceed to list different colours. If a player's colour was called they would then have to run to a designated base without getting caught by the 'fox'. Iona notes that this game is a 'very, very ancient game' and has many variations [00:10:26 - 00:14:30]. Frances and another unidentified female speaker present then discuss a flag game that they played. Frances explains that this is 'sort of a war game' and involves two teams attempting to steal a flag without being 'caught'. One of the girls listening to the interview remarks that she plays a game like this called 'Steal the Bacon' [00:14:30 - 00:15:04].

  • Description

    Item notes: Recording of children demonstrating songs and discussing playground games with Iona Opie and an interview with Frances Smith from North Carolina, USA. Speakers' notes: Group of London schoolchildren. Interviewee's notes: Frances Smith from North Carolina, USA. Recording notes: Rumble (presumed motor noise) from 00:02-00:09 (approx.) and 15:49 (approx.)-end. Otherwise good throughout.

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