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THE PLAY-PARTY IN INDIANA
THE PLAY-PARTY AND ITS ENVIRONMENT.
The play-party is a distinct kind of social entertainment, just as is the card-party or the dance. Yet it is unlike these amusements in extent, for it flourishes only in a certain environment. The conditions in Indiana have recently grown unfavorable and it is only in a few remote districts that the play-party has not been lost and even forgotten.
I shall first give a brief description of the country and settlers of Ripley County, as this is a typical locality in which it survives; next, consider the social significance of this sort of party; then, try to picture it as my parents have known it, and finally as I, myself, have seen it.
The southern half of this county is cut up by swiftly-flowing creeks and high hills, which have served to isolate the different communities and to disconnect the whole district from the outside world. For many years after the opening of the state, settlers did not come to this county in large numbers. The only inducement to laborers was agriculture, and much of the land was rocky and heavily forested, while the clay soil would not produce good crops without careful cultivation. Almost every road led over rocky hills, and for long distances followed the rough, limestone creek-bed, while those on the levels were appropriately called "mud roads."
It is easy to see that the dwellers among these hills would be dependent upon their own resources for amusements. Towns of any size were far apart. In fact, there is, at present, in the southern half of the county, no town of more than seven hundred inhabitants and there are localities here eighteen miles from the nearest railroad line.
Although most of the people came from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky, yet they brought with them, into this new country, the peculiar traditions and customs of the old world;