THE PLAY-PARTY IN INDIANA - online book

Folk-Songs and Games with Descriptive Introduction, Notes, Sheeet music & Lyrics

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The Play-Party in Indiana.                          13
But preparations had also been going on at the farm house. In the "spare-room" the rag carpet had been lifted, not because it was too smooth for the games, but because the rough boots and coarse shoes of the players wore it out. Around this same room, heavy blocks of wood held up long boards, which made a bench for the lookers-on. In the kitchen a roaring fire was kept in the fireplace; here the parents and children were to stay. Usually there were fewer old people than young; yet there were enough men to discuss the prospective crops, the coming election, the slavery question and predestination; and plenty of women there were to pop the corn over the coals, crack the walnuts, wash the winesaps, cut the cakes, and watch the babies.
About dusk the first players arrive. The girls at once retire to the bedroom to slip off their long black calico riding skirts and to leave their heavy wraps. The boys' overcoats and caps, too, are piled on the bed and now all are ready to play. There is no need to wait for ceremony. Thaddeus knows Josie, and Josie knows Hiram. Receiving line and formal introductions are far from the spirit of the play-party. The first four players are not slow in starting the games with the old drinking song, "All Go Down to Rowser's." Others arrive, and in spite of the dim candle-light and the increasing confusion, each boy can easily pick out the favorite girl, in the fairest muslin dress, to be his partner for the next set. A few rounds of "Old Dan Tucker" are immediately succeeded by "Needle's Eye", "Skip-to-My-Lou" and "We're Marching Down to Old Quebec." Several couples silently drop out when "Weevily Wheat" is named as the next, for it is played like the dance Virginia Reel, and offends the more scrupulous consciences. A stanza from a Texas version echoes this feeling,
Take a lady by her hand,
Lead her like a pigeon,
Make her dance the Weevily Wheat,
She loses her religion.2
The hours go quickly and there is always reluctance to stop, for the next game may bring as partner the best player in the crowd, another set may mean a kiss from the girl who is secretly most admired. There is a fascination in the singing, in the rhythmic movement of the dance and in the significant acting, which has no exact parallel in other amusements.
2. This is described below under the game, "Weevily Wheat."
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