Hi cv5830-ga, (wow that just rolls of the tongue LOL)
I grabbed this as soon as I could, I remember this game from my
childhood in the quiet rural neighborhoods of NY. Here's what I
remember from the game.
One person was the Mother, one person was the Witch, and everyone else
were the children. A subject was picked, band names, actors, actresses
or anything else you could think up. Each "child" picks a name from
the category [ for example: Actors, I will be John Goodman, and
someone else would be Tom Cruise. ], when each child has chosen a
name, the "Mother" sings her song.
"I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe and I won't be back until
Saturday night, I hope that old witch doesn't kidnap my kids tonight."
All the "children" would then hide. Our take on the rules was simple,
it had to be an enclosed area...and fairly dark, like hide and seek,
or ghosts in the graveyard. The "Mother" would tell the "Witch" the
category. The "Mother" would then sit. The "Witch" would begin calling
out subjects from the category, hoping to name one of the names of the
"Children". Once a child's name was called they had to try to run to
the home base before the "Witch" could catch them. If the "Witch"
caught a "Child" they had to go to the "Witch's house".
After the first "Child" is caught, the "Mother" can release a
kidnapped "Child" by getting past the "Witch" and running back to home
base holding hands the whole time. If caught, the "Mother" became the
"Witch", if not they were both free. The last "Child" kidnapped is the
"Witch" the next round.
I searched Google for this same information hoping to bring up a
confirmation of my childhood memories.
Using the search phrase (in quotes) "going downtown to smoke my pipe"
I found some similar requests for the same information.
The first link:
Is a restricted site, which is odd, since even the main page is
restricted. I was however able to view Google's cache of that page.
It states, "You need a witch, a mother, a babysitter and at least two
children. The mother says to the babysitter: "I'm going downtown to
smoke my pipe, and I won't be back until Saturday night. And don't let
that witch take any of my children!"
Then as she walks around the outside of the house (or yard) the witch
comes to the door to "borrow" a cup of sugar. While the babysitter is
getting it, the witch "bribes" a child to come with her and they leave
for the witch's house. The mother comes home and gets mad at the
babysitter, but this doesn't stop her from going out again. Repeat the
same game until all children have been "kidnapped". The babysitter
follows the witch with the last child but also gets kidnapped. The
witch then gives each child a new name, which will be a category (IE
colors, fruits, cereal, etc). The mother comes to the witch's house
and has to guess the new names of her children before they can go
It seems to be a tamer version of the game I played, and being that my
childhood also included wonderful games like "kill the guy with the
ball", I?m not shocked that others may have played tamer games.
our next link leads us to
The oldest and largest free genealogy site/SWEDEN-L Archives
This page has some minor similarities, but is incomplete in its final
answer, it seems you aren't the only one seeking the history of this
I have called an older sister, and an older cousin, and both remember
the game fondly, and apparently, I have started a huge phone chain. I
have gotten 10 or so calls since first reading this question. I truly
appreciate the interesting topic which has brought so many old cousins
Thanks for the fun,
Clarification of Answer by
15 Dec 2003 13:38 PST
"I'm thrilled to get this information."
I am truly glad you asked, you brought up some fantastic memories for
my family and I.
"I wish I could find out more about our version, and the part "and if
you let my muffins burn, I'll spank you blue" or whatever. Maybe that
was the naming which then the witch would use to "kidnap" the
I am still waiting to hear from my older sister, she has six kids and
sometimes they occupy her time a little. It also makes it so difficult
to get her on the phone. LOL. As for the rest of the family, everyone
seems to agree to "Mother" and "Witch" simply exchanged the category,
but it sounds like your rhyme would work as well.
"We don't remember about the witch, but one of my sisters remembers
something about all the "children" lining up and holding out their
hands and someone (the
"witch"? the "mother?") tapping the fingers as if playing a piano."
The only comment I got from my advisory panel of crazy cousins and
relatives is that holding hands was generally considered
"Electricity?" which helped when running back to base. The people
already at home base would extend arms and link hands making a giant
chain, and hopefully grab onto whoever was still stuck running. It
gets a little fuzzy here, some people claim breaking the chain or
"electricity?" would now send anyone not touching someone who is
touching home base scrambling for safety. I remember the long line of
stretched cousins straining to grab you as you ran by and the person
who was it, smashing into the line (very reminiscent of red rover).
"Would it cost me more to find out what some of your other contacts
Normally I would say yes not for the money, but to close the question,
but I hope we can hold out a little longer. I have sent them direct
quotes and questions from your question in hopes that someone will
recognize the piano type motion you mentioned. If you feel I have
answered your question fully, you can close the question and I will
post any further information as comments. If you feel you would like
further clarification please do ask further questions.