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10 The Play-Party in Indiana.
which they have inherited, and give to these song-dances a ring of melody and an unaffected gracefulness of physical movement, which in no way discredit the games of sixty years ago. To the old songs, many new ones have been added, perhaps a number of the earlier ones lost, several have been turned over to the children: but of this we shall have occasion to speak more fully later.
If there is a large crowd, other-games beside the regular play-party dance are often started. One group will form a ring of its own and play without music the old favorite, "Drop the Handkerchief" or "Three Deep." On the other hand, it is not unusual for a select eight of the best players to leave the big ring and dance the progressional, "All Go Down to Rowser's", with its rather difficult figures.
The kind of refreshments depends entirely upon the hostess. Perhaps the most common is a generous supply of watermelons. Ice-cream and cake are often served in the yard and then nuts and candies passed later. There is one family of well-to-do farmers, however, which gives a play-party every year, inviting the guests from three towns, besides including a selected crowd of country people from ten miles away. The regular practice at this home is to serve a hot dinner, though the number they entertain is over one hundred. Nor is this a fashionable, light luncheon. There are two or three kinds of roast meat, several vegetables in season, often four kinds of jelly and preserves, pickles of several sorts, and always a generous supply of ice-cream and cake at the last.
From such a party the boys seldom reach home before three or four o'clock. Yet the lateness of the hour is not allowed to interfere with work the next day. The husky country lad oftentimes merely changes from his Sunday clothes to overalls and goes out to do the feeding, ignoring till the next night his loss of sleep.
Yet, in spite of the fact that the people enjoy it, many things are tending to break down the play-party. One of the most important of these is that it must compete now with other amusements. To be sure, these are few compared with the city. Only in the last year has a moving picture show been established at the county seat, Versailles, and there is no other to the south for twenty-five miles, to the north for five, to the east for seven and to the west for eighteen. Though this comes only two nights a week, yet it draws large crowds, and these are the very people who have given the play-parties. The pool table, too, has recently attracted a few of these country boys.