MY GHOULS 1-2-3!
April 8, 2011 11:18 AM   Subscribe

When you played Hide and Seek as a kid, what did you call the "base" and what rules existed, if any, about the base?

I hope this isn't chatfilter, or surveyfilter, as I am trying to solve a problem of sorts. I'm trying to figure out if my Thing is a strictly New England (or Boston, or Metro Boston) Thing and perhaps where it came from.

Last night I was playing hide and seek with my son (9) and I asked him if he knew about "Ghouls." He looked at me like I had two heads. He'd never heard of Ghouls. I should mention that we live in the same town I grew up in, though in a different neighborhood, in suburban Boston. I just assumed everyone in the universe knew about ghouls.

So I taught him about ghouls and it brought the game to a whole new level. I suspect he will teach all his friends about it.

For those of you who are looking at this thread as if it were written by someone with two heads, here is a summary: "Base" was known as "Ghouls." Yes, ghouls. Not goal, but ghouls. Or gools, I guess. If you were hiding and you could get back to ghouls before the "finder", you would call "My ghouls 1-2-3!" and you would be safe. If, however, the finder found you and he/she could run back to base before you, he would call "YOUR NAME ghouls 1-2-3!" and you would be "it" the next round.

I found this, where a bunch of Boston area people talk about this phenomenon, including the term "Ghouls stickah!", which I had forgotten about and which is basically the pre-FPS, real-life version of the modern day spawn camper.

So, my questions:

If you played Hide and Seek as a kid, was there a "base" that you had to race to in order to be safe or, in the case of the finder, to make people be "it"?

What did you call the base?

Did you have similar rules about racing back to base?

Have you ever heard the term "ghouls" in this context, including "My ghouls 1-2-3!"

Where did you grow up, or where did you live during your prime Hide and Seek years?

Bonus: Am I crazy?
posted by bondcliff to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (74 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Northern California here. No notion of a base or ghouls of any kind. You all started somewhere, so I suppose you can call that the base, but the round ends when the finder, well, finds someone, with no race involved.
posted by zachlipton at 11:24 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Southeastern Michigan native here.

We almost never had a base when we played hide and seek. You simply hid until you were found. I don't remember an instance where no body was not found.. so there were no drawbacks such as a never ending game of hide and seek because you couldn't find the last person.

I do remember playing your variation of hide and seek a handful of times, and I think we just called it "Home" or the place the seeker counted at. We never did about of your ghouls thing, if you reached Home without being caught then you were safe.

I also remember playing a variation where the people who were found became extensions of the seeker and joined the game of finding the hidden ones.
posted by royalsong at 11:25 AM on April 8, 2011


We sometimes played with such a rule. It was called "home" - this was also where "it" counted while other people hid - and the hider had the option to run back to home once found. If the hider got there first I think they said "safe" and if "it" tagged the hider before the hider got home, the hider was the new "it". I don't think there was a goal for "it" to get to home before the hider, just to tag, so it was very hard to get home before "it" tagged you - nigh impossible playing indoors, really.

I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles.
posted by troublesome at 11:26 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


yeeeah, played a version of that (there are a lot of versions of h&s, plenty of which have no home base).

Only the verbage we used in this version was "home" and "Home free 1-2-3". Lived in St. Johns NFLD when I was young enough to play H&S.
posted by edgeways at 11:26 AM on April 8, 2011


right.. "we never did anything like your ghouls thing" I can speak english, I swear.
posted by royalsong at 11:27 AM on April 8, 2011


What you're describing to me sounds like a hybrid of two games we played as kids.

Kick the Can had a home-base that if a "hider" could reach it and kick the can over then the "finder" was it for another turn.

Freeze tag had the home base and the jail. If one of the "taggies" could reach home base than all of the people in jail were free and the "tagger" had to start all over again.

I don't remember there ever being a home-base when I played hide & seek (Southeast 1970's) and I've never heard the term ghouls in this context before.
posted by victoriab at 11:27 AM on April 8, 2011


From southern NJ and while we had a base, we didn't call it anything other than "base".
posted by countess duckula at 11:27 AM on April 8, 2011


First the bonus, yes you're crazy. Being alive covers that.

Anyway, we just had base. Someone would count at the base to a predetermined number (which would sometimes vary due to the use of "snakey snakey down your back" before eachround)and the idea was to get back to the base.

Base had to be reasonably easy to reach for everyone playing. Most of the time this meant something sticking out of or otherwise touching the ground. You got to base before you got tagged and you're safe.

Sometimes we'd say you could leave base just fine, most of the time you had to stay on it.

Never heard it referred to as anything other than base or home or some variation on "that place we counted from." And I lived all over the south east, playing hide and seek with people throughout high school.

Yes, we were crazy too.
posted by theichibun at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2011


Another Southeastern Michigan native here. Never had a base when playing hide and seek. You hid until found.

Hide and seek with a base is a different game - sort of like capture the flag, no?

Hide and Seek has two elements: Hiding and seeking. Adding an element makes it something other than Hide and Seek, by definition.
posted by The World Famous at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2011


In Illinois we had "base" during tag. Where you could touch the tree, or fence, or slide, or whatever the designated 'base' was and be safe from being tagged. I believe there was a time limit on how long you could stay on base.

I have never heard of Ghouls, or the use of a 'base' when playing hide-and-seek.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2011


Grew up in Maine, now live on the North Shore.

Base and Gools were similar. At base, everyone was safe.

"Gools" was called out in the heat of the moment by the person being chased. So, if the person found touched a tree and said, "Gools!" the person finding could not make that person "it" as long as that person stayed at the tree. The person found would still have to make it back to base.

"Gools" was, to use an example, a stepping stone of safety for the person found. Getting to base without getting tagged was the only way to avoid becoming "it" for the next round.
posted by zizzle at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2011


New York here. There was no base in hide and seek. This sounds like you got some kick the can in your hide and seek. Of course we didn't play much hide and seek once we discovered sardines and all its . . . possibilities.
posted by The Bellman at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe we also used a shout of "olly olly oxen free" for something in hide & seek, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

We also played a variation of hide & seek called manhunt which was conducted outside at night in the dark. That's what you got to play when you were a cool "big kid".
posted by countess duckula at 11:29 AM on April 8, 2011


edgeways: "
Only the verbage we used in this version was "home" and "Home free 1-2-3". Lived in St. Johns NFLD when I was young enough to play H&S.
"

Wait, Home Free 1-2-3 is sounding familier...maybe we did have a homebase but I was always too chicken to make a run for it. I really got WAAAY too excited when I played these games. I remember my sister took me to play kick the can in our neighborhood (I was 5 & she was 12 or 13) at dusk one night and I got so excited/terrified that I peed in my pants. Needless to say I kept my trap shut and kept playing...it was awesome (if a bit clammy).
posted by victoriab at 11:32 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm aware that this is a variation of H&S, sort of an advanced version, with elements of other games. We called it Hide and Seek (or Hide and Go Seek) and played it constantly. We never played H&S without these rules.

I'm also pretty sure this is the way my dad played, growing up in East Boston (also Newton and Chelsea) in the 1940s. I could be wrong about that, however. He may have learned it from us.
posted by bondcliff at 11:32 AM on April 8, 2011


I grew up in suburban MA and I did not play this. We would usually play hide-until-found or we'd play Sardines where one person would hide and everyone would seek and you'd hide with the person and the last person to find everyone was the person who was "it" next round. I have vague memories of playing an "olly olly oxen free" version of H&S which I assume had a base, but it definitely wasn't our main game, though it may have been one we played with neighbors.
posted by jessamyn at 11:34 AM on April 8, 2011


Western Pennsylvania, "home" and "all-ye all-ye in free."
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:34 AM on April 8, 2011


countess duckula: "I believe we also used a shout of "olly olly oxen free" for something in hide & seek, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was."

We used that for letting everyone who was still hiding that it was safe for them to come out since the round was over once someone was tagged.
posted by theichibun at 11:34 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just asked my husband who is from Westchester County in NY. He also has never played without a base. It provides the incentive for hiders to do stuff other than just stay hidden in one spot the whole time -- half the fun is sneaking back to base undetected. :-)
posted by countess duckula at 11:34 AM on April 8, 2011


Ex-Nova Scotian here, and just like edgeways in Newfoundland, we ran "Home" before we were found and called out "Home Free". It was possible, especially if you made a much younger child "It", that everyone hiding could run Home Free and the child would have to be It again, and again, and again which was miserable for It, but a wonderful form of torment for the older kids.
posted by angiep at 11:35 AM on April 8, 2011


Grew up in Newton, MA and I always thought the word was "Goals" but yeah, I know what you're talking about. I was also well aware growing up that there were two versions of Hide and Seek (sometime also called "Hide and GO Seek" in my family, and we usually figured out whether we were going to have "goals" in the game before we started playing. Also, what someone up the thread mentioned earlier as well. The goals "base" was where "it" counted as well.
posted by Rewind at 11:36 AM on April 8, 2011


If I recall correctly, this is similar to how we played Ghost in the Graveyard - hide and seek with a base, and then if the ghost ("it") got close to catching you, you could run for base to beat being tagged - basically, anyone at base before the ghost tagged them was safe. Last person at base / first person tagged was next it. I think.
posted by kellygrape at 11:36 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I grew up in Southern Connecticut. I don't remember a base, though I suppose there might have been, but there was definitely no mention of Ghouls. So it's not New England-wide, I don't think.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:37 AM on April 8, 2011


In Florida, we played with a base. You were safe if you got back to the base without being tagged. But there was no race after being tagged: if you got tagged, you were it.
posted by lmindful at 11:44 AM on April 8, 2011


Never head of the ghouls thing, but our whole game revolved around getting back to base before you could be tagged. (This was the 'burbs of Vancouver, Canada.) And when we got home without being tagged, we too yelled "Home Free"; maybe it's a Canadian thing. If you were tagged, you became "it". If you were it and were never able to tag anyone, you were "it" for what seemed like all of eternity.

There is a flaw with this game though, and that when the person who was "it" would just hang around home base and wait for someone to get brave enough to make a run for it, where he'd get picked off just as he was approaching home base. Hoever, this often lead to a wild goose chase where the person trying to get home would turn around and run, "it" would give chase, and everybody else watching this would get home free while "it" was otherwise preoccupied.
posted by cgg at 11:44 AM on April 8, 2011


I played almost exactly as troublesome describes: you hide, and you have to get back to base before you're found and tagged. The person who was it has to physically tag you, by sneaking or chasing. If they fail to tag anybody, the last to base would be it.
posted by slow graffiti at 11:46 AM on April 8, 2011


I had completely forgotten about "gools". We used it the way you did. Northern New Hampshire, late '70s.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:47 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


*forgot, I also grew up in SoCal.
posted by slow graffiti at 11:47 AM on April 8, 2011


I played on my street, which was a cul de sac that had a grassed island in the middle, with a street light in the center.

The light was home. The person who was "it" would count to 100 while everyone else would scatter and hide.

In order to get someone out, the it person had to spot them, call out their name and where they were and then beat them back to home. A hider could save themselves by tagging home without getting spotted, or with getting spotted but beating the it person back to home. Preferably any home tags would be made as loud as possible, which was fairly loud given it was a metal pole.

Moving around was necessary and highly effective. A few of us knew the street so well that we could get to any front yard, by means of back yards and hopping fences. Then from the front yard you'd make your dash home, ideally with the it person search on the other side of the street. The it person really had to stay close to home to prevent people from easily tagging in.

good times! (Definitely no "gools")

Oh, also, the it person could give up by calling (sic) "olly olly oxen free!". I have no idea where that came from.
posted by utsutsu at 11:49 AM on April 8, 2011


I was hide-and-seek age in the early 1970s in Vineyard Haven, MA. We definitely had "ghouls" (even as a bunch of grade school kids, it seemed like we all understood that this was a Yankee corruption of "goal" though).

I can't remember the finer points of the rules at this late date, but I do remember that we were awesome at it.
posted by quarterframer at 11:50 AM on April 8, 2011


oh, hah. olly olly oxen free.
posted by utsutsu at 11:51 AM on April 8, 2011


Minnesota born and raised --- we call this "Moonlight Starlight", and when the game begins, you all shout "Moonlight Starlight hope you see the ghost tonight"

Kick the Can is a different game.
posted by Think_Long at 11:52 AM on April 8, 2011


I played precisely this game, including "My ghouls 1, 2, 3." Shrewsbury, MA let's say 1981. We moved there from Illinois when I was in second grade and it was just one of the many things that had me flummoxed about local language and culture. See also: calling a waterfountain 'bubbla', the term 'wicked nice' not being contradictory, the word 'lavatory' in general, needing to order a frappe to get a milkshake, catholicism, and oh so many more.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:53 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a flaw with this game though, and that when the person who was "it" would just hang around home base and wait for someone to get brave enough to make a run for it, where he'd get picked off just as he was approaching home base.

And that's when everyone would come out of hiding and yell "Ghouls Stickah!" at them, and they'd go "nuh uh!" and everyone would go "Yes suh!" and they'd go "Nuh uh!" and this would go on for a while and eventually mom would open the door and holler at us and we'd do one-potato-two-potato again and someone else would be "it." At least where I grew up, which thanks to this thread I'm starting to feel was on some alternate universe. I bet you people didn't call sunfish "Kivahs" either.
posted by bondcliff at 11:53 AM on April 8, 2011


I agree with kellygrape, this sounds somewhat similar to Ghost in the Graveyard. It's basically group hide and seek where the person who is "it" hides, and (after counting to "midnight") everyone goes looking for them. When someone finds the person who is hiding, they yell "Ghost in the Graveyard" or whatever and the person who is it tries to tag someone before everyone gets back to the base.

The normal Hide and Seek I played did not involve a base. Also most people who grew up in my area did not play Ghost in the Graveyard, it was specific to one group of friends, and I'm not sure who brought it in.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:54 AM on April 8, 2011


All of my H&S playing was done indoors, in the dark, with no racing or chasing. Once someone was found, the round was over and everyone else(usually games were 4 people or less) tried to come out without giving away their spot.
posted by owtytrof at 11:54 AM on April 8, 2011


Born in a Chicago suburb but spent most of my H&S time in central Indiana. We rarely played during the day because Ghosts in the Graveyard (H&S in the dark) was much more fun. We had a base (Matt's basketball goal) where the "it" person counted and where we would try to sneak back to. The "it" person could not simply hang around base. If he or she did that, he or she was mercilessly teased for being a wuss.

The Ghosts would run to hide (another version had us paired in teams; hiding with someone else was always more fun, especially when the teen years hit...), the "it" person would count, and then come find us. If you could get to base without being tagged, you were safe, even if the "it" person saw you first. When someone was tagged, the "it" person called "olly olly oxen free" or "allie allie in come free," depending on the person.

Never heard of Ghouls until now.
posted by cooker girl at 11:57 AM on April 8, 2011


H&S is for raining indoor days. Manhunt (basically like you've described) was for outdoors. And sounding way cooler than H&S which is for little kids. Manhunt can be played through high school. And at night.

Northern NJ
posted by raccoon409 at 12:00 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Born (1978) and raised in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin. We called it ghoul and we liked it.
posted by Twicketface at 12:00 PM on April 8, 2011


Near Portsmouth, NH, in the early 1970s: we called it "ghouls" too, although I never would have remembered this if you hadn't mentioned it. I don't know if we had the same rules but we did call it that too.
posted by theredpen at 12:04 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also Chicago suburbs. Played H&S and Ghosts in the Graveyard, don't remember if we ever used "base" (also called "home") as a variant for hide and seek, but it doesn't sound wrong. I think it was for if you were in your hiding place forrrrrrrrevvvvvvvvvver and were afraid all your friends had moved on to playing Atari without you, without losing face. We yelled "Olly olly oxen free" to tell everyone still hiding to come out safely. Never heard of ghouls.
posted by Mchelly at 12:05 PM on April 8, 2011


Southwest Michigan here. For whatever reason, we called our hide and seek "Halloween". It had to happen at night, and was spread across a zone of about 10-15 acres. We didn't use bases, but you always kept moving. Traveling across high-traffic / well-lit areas as a "hider" gained lots of respect and was always an adrenaline rush. As royalsong mentioned, once you were found you joined to seekers until there was one left. Damn that was fun.
posted by jasondigitized at 12:06 PM on April 8, 2011


Central Oregon. Base was called base and was optional. I believe the hider just had to touch base (and maybe say "safe!" My memory is not strong here), whereas it would have to beat the hider to the base and say "1-2-3 on [hider's first name]".
posted by willpie at 12:07 PM on April 8, 2011


HOLY SHIT YES

I READ THE PART BEFORE THE JUMP AND IMMEDIATELY SAID "GOOLS", SPELLING IT JUST LIKE THAT IN MY MIND

I'm from Southern NH. I don't recall the exact rules we played by, but the phrase "GOOLS 1 2 3" definitely sounds familiar.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:10 PM on April 8, 2011


And as mentioned above, Hide-An-Seek was an indoor game for little kids who hid behind curtains. What I remember was high-adrenaline, in-the-dark, fence-jumping, tree-climbing, full speed commando type sh*t.
posted by jasondigitized at 12:10 PM on April 8, 2011


Danvers, MA - definitely we had "gools", but I don't remember all the hide-and-[go]-seek rules around it. "My-gools-1-2-3" does ring a bell, though.
posted by mskyle at 12:11 PM on April 8, 2011


I am so happy to see this question, as this same thing comes up occassionally with some people around me.

I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago (born '79) and we played "It." We referred to the pre-determined location where one was safe as "gool." (Singular, not plural. Also, though we never drafted a rulebook, I always saw the word in my head spelled with two o's, instead of as the synonym for ghost. Not sure why.)

Most of my cousins grew up in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago <1>
My kids are growing up in the same suburb I did. I can't remember now what they call it, but a mention of gool draws quizzical looks, suggesting that this phenomenon is modified not only by location, but time.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:12 PM on April 8, 2011


Aargh. "...Beverly neighborhood of Chicago less than 10 miles from my home. A mention of "gool" drew constant ribbing, as they referred to it as "home."
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:15 PM on April 8, 2011


Base and Gools were similar. At base, everyone was safe.

"Gools" was called out in the heat of the moment by the person being chased. So, if the person found touched a tree and said, "Gools!" the person finding could not make that person "it" as long as that person stayed at the tree. The person found would still have to make it back to base.

"Gools" was, to use an example, a stepping stone of safety for the person found. Getting to base without getting tagged was the only way to avoid becoming "it" for the next round.


You know, the more I think about it, the more I'm recalling that we played with roughly the rules above, but that the chaser calling "1 2 3" was the duration of time when you couldn't be tagged. So you could get to Gools, you'd be momentarily safe, but immediately upon touching it, the chaser started counting; once the chaser got to 3, you had to take off like a shot again in an attempt to get to Home (which, I think is what we called Base).
posted by Greg Nog at 12:16 PM on April 8, 2011


Central Ma mid to late 60's. We had 'gools' which I always thought of GOAL. The boyd DID have goolies, though...
posted by pentagoet at 12:17 PM on April 8, 2011


UGH... make that goolies, please. Anyhoo, sounds like the Hide and Go Seek I played as a kid, on long summer and early fall evenings.
posted by pentagoet at 12:25 PM on April 8, 2011


Damn. It's boys having goolies, not boyds. I'm going away now.
posted by pentagoet at 12:26 PM on April 8, 2011


I remember that some friend of mine came home from camp or visiting cousins or something and had learned to shout "olly olly oxen-free" when it was safe to come out, and I thought that was incredibly lame. I was the kind of kid who would find an excellent hiding place (I was really small, so I'd curl up behind a sofa cushion, or cache myself in a drawer or cabinet) and stay there for HOURS, and force people to find me. We usually played such that everyone already found kind of loitered around while "it" found the stragglers, and I had zero interest in a version of the game in which people could just shout something and out I'd come.

I love these threads because they provide me with such fantastic opportunities to reflect on my insufferable childhood self.
posted by troublesome at 12:29 PM on April 8, 2011


We sometimes played with such a rule. It was called "home" - this was also where "it" counted while other people hid - and the hider had the option to run back to home once found. If the hider got there first I think they said "safe" and if "it" tagged the hider before the hider got home, the hider was the new "it". I don't think there was a goal for "it" to get to home before the hider, just to tag, so it was very hard to get home before "it" tagged you - nigh impossible playing indoors, really.

I played almost exactly as troublesome describes: you hide, and you have to get back to base before you're found and tagged. The person who was it has to physically tag you, by sneaking or chasing. If they fail to tag anybody, the last to base would be it.


This must be the general SoCal version, because it's what I played as well. Seeker or "it" would count aloud at the "base", usually leaning against it with their eyes covered while everyone else ran and hid. Once the agreed upon number was reached, the seeker would yell "Ready or not, here I come!" and try to find people. To no longer be "it", the seeker would have to physically "tag" someone before they reached base. What constituted "base" would vary depending on location - a playground equipment support, tree, or door would usually work.

I don't know if any of us had figure it out at the time, but a critical strategy point in choosing one's hiding spot would thus be the ability to make a clean break for base without being tagged, so no small places with only one access point or anything, unless you were willing to run for base before actually being found.
posted by LionIndex at 12:29 PM on April 8, 2011


In suburban Detroit, we had a "gool" like yours -- usually a tree that had been designated the safe zone. Actually, the first time I read the word "gaol" I assumed that this was the word we had been yelling, and was quite disappointed to find out that it was really pronounced "jail". We also yelled "olly olly oxen free" as an all-clear.
posted by ourobouros at 12:29 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago.

We always played what we called "Ghosts in the Graveyard". In our version, there was "base" where one "ghost" counted to some arbitrary number while everyone else hid. The "ghost" then went to seek out those who were hiding. If you were found, you were turned into a "ghost" and joined the quest to find the hiders. The goal was to make it to "base" without getting caught. Now I imagine that it was more like "Zombies in the Backyard".

I don't think I've heard of "gool" (or any other of its derivatives), but then again I was always the kid who never knew what has happening.
posted by photovox at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2011


Inner-city Detroit (Cass Corridor) and we all called it "glue." As in "I'm on glue!"

When I lived in suburban Chicago for a while, they all called it "ghoul" ("gool"?) and I thought they were stupid, ignorant, insane, or all three. However, it seems like our neighborhood had bastardized "gool" and not the other way around. But why the hell would it be called either one?

The rules about "home" were just that you were safe if you were able to return without being tagged out. Like kick the can, but with a tree instead, and you didn't have to kick it.
posted by The Deej at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2011


Born in '74, I had "1-2-3 GOOLS!!!" in central Maine.

And Gool Stickah! My word, I had forgotten about that. Nice walk down Memory Lane, thank you!
posted by Grlnxtdr at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2011


For those people outside of New England who used gools, I’m curious if you have roots in New England. Anyone?

FWIW, for your further scrutiny, The Official Rules for Hide and Seek in my neighborhood, ages 8 - 14.

Everybody always agrees on these rules and you must NEVER stray from them. Never.

We would decide to play hide and seek. We did this every night after dinner in the summer and even wore our “ninja” suits, which were basically dark sweatshirts and blue jeans.

Someone would ask “are we playing with gools?” The answer was always “yes.” I don’t know why we bothered asking.

The legal area consisted of my yard and the yards of the two nearest neighbors if they were playing.

“It” would be determined by One-potato-two-potato. We always knew where to stand so the last potato would be Jimmy Belcher’s (not his real name) and he would be “it” first. To this day he hasn’t caught on.

“It” would count to 60, reciting each multiple of ten out loud. The rest would go hide.

When finished counting, “it” would yell “Ready or not, here I come!” (Westwood cousin variation = “Apple, peaches, pumpkin pie, whoever’s not ready, holler I!”) If someone wasn’t ready they would accuse “it” of counting too fast, there would be much yelling, and the round would eventually start over.

Once “it” started looking, he could not hover too closely around gools or the other kids would claim he was a “gools sticker.” Being branded a gools sticker could shame your whole family for generations to come.

If you were hiding and you thought you could make it back to gools before “it”, you could run back, tag gools and yell “My gools 1-2-3.” If you made it you were “safe” for that round and you would not be “it” next round.

If “it” made it back to gools before you and said Your Name + “gools 1-2-3” you would be “out.” The first person this happened to would be “it” next round. Play continues until all hiders are found by “it.”

(Jailbreak variation: If people are already “out”, someone calling their gools can also call “Jailbreak”, in which case everyone at gools is now safe. We played this way occasionally, which is probably considered another game. Perhaps “Jailbreak.”)

Ties were settled by shouting, unless you were Jimmy Belcher in which case you always lost the tie no matter what.

If “it” could not find anyone, or anyone to call gools on, before getting frustrated, he would call out “come out, come out, wherever you are.” They would then be “it” again, unless they accused people of cheating, in which case “it” would be determined by potatoes Unless it was Jimmy Belcher in which case you would lose the argument.

Play continues until mom calls you in to do your homework.

I would like to take this time to publicly apologize to Jimmy Belcher, although he was kind of an asshat to us.
posted by bondcliff at 12:42 PM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thank you THANK YOU for posting this. I've thought *I* was nuts for years.

I grew up in and around Detroit and we DEFINITELY had "Gool" as I thought it was spelled. I've never heard anyone else actually say that they'd heard of this as well.

My recollection is that it was primarily a thing we used during Tag, though maybe in hide-and-go-seek as well. Gool was one area where you could not be tagged to become "it", and if you made it back to Gool, you generally shouted (almost as one word) "you can't tag me I'm on gool".

I also seem to remember something like what zizzle was talking about. That you could make a tree or something gool while in play and you were safe until you left it. But I think in general there was only one non-movable gool, and it's where everyone started from.

of course, when we played hide and go seek, it wasn't enough to find someone, you had to tag them once you did. So I guess it was kind of a hybrid of the two games. If you were found, but managed to make it back to gool, you were OK. If everyone did, the same "it" was "it" again.
posted by indiebass at 12:49 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you played Hide and Seek as a kid, was there a "base" that you had to race to in order to be safe or, in the case of the finder, to make people be "it"?

Yes.

What did you call the base?

I think it was just called "base".

Did you have similar rules about racing back to base?

The only rule I remember is a rule against "guarding", in other words the finder could not go find everyone then dash back to base to strategically corner the hiders. Actual chasing needed to occur. Similarly in other tag based games where there was a "base", people running from the tagger could not congregate around "base" so as to prevent ever getting tagged.

Have you ever heard the term "ghouls" in this context, including "My ghouls 1-2-3!"

No.

Where did you grow up, or where did you live during your prime Hide and Seek years?

Small town southern Louisiana. Culturally Cajun if someone is mapping this to that sort of thing.

Bonus: Am I crazy?

No. Kids make up different rules and social conventions amongst themselves. It's an interesting thing to think about.
posted by Sara C. at 1:05 PM on April 8, 2011


I grew up in Southern NH and Rewind's answer is pretty much exactly what I was going to say.

Generally we called "hide-and-seek" the game without a base, and "hide-and-go-seek-tag" was the one with a base.
posted by Tu13es at 1:12 PM on April 8, 2011


I believe we also used a shout of "olly olly oxen free" for something in hide & seek, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.


Somebody probably responded to this up-thread, but in southeast Michigan in the late 70s, the person who was it could yell "olly olly oxen free" and then everybody would come out of hiding and race for home base, and the last one to get there was the new "it."
posted by not that girl at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2011


We called the game Scarper in our well-to-do-but-dull-as-heck Newton Mearns (Scotland; suburb of Glasgow). It was a mixture of Tig (like Tag, only better) and Hide & Seek. The person who was Het (what's this "It" stuff? You can't say "Tag, you're it!" while lunging with your last breath at the captured runner. "Tig, you're het!", on the other hand, is that sound of a violent exhalation. But I digress.) counted up to 100 from Home while everyone hid. After a yell of "Coming, ready or not!", Het would try to find us. You could make a run to home when you thought that Het was far enough away. I think we had to shout "Home Safe 123!" when we got there.

If you were slow and being chased, you could call "Keys!", stick your thumbs up and stop. Het had to (if agreed at the start of the game) leave you alone until you put your thumbs down or moved from the spot. Calling Keys too often in Scarper was frowned upon, and might get you labelled a jessie.

Het was initially chosen by a slow process of elimination. We'd go "eenie meenie macka racka ray rye dominaca hicka chocka lollipoppa rong pong push you are not het", and the last person left was Het. I really don't know what the Atkins family — posted to Glasgow from deepest Mississippi for a couple of years — made of the game. Somewhere, sometime, I hope that Tim Atkins, now in his forties, remembers these strange Northern words from summer evenings long ago.
posted by scruss at 3:45 PM on April 8, 2011


Central Mass. Yes to gools.
posted by beccaj at 4:47 PM on April 8, 2011


In the Detroit suburbs we called it gool. Some interesting reading on the term, which Wikipedia dates to at least 1870 and pegs to "Northern states." Would be curious to know what folks in other countries call it. (Here's a suggestion that it's called gool in the Caribbean, too.)
posted by oddovid at 5:41 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Southwestern MA (Longmeadow). We played basically identically to the normal variant in the Wiki article, except the person who tagged home (called home base, not gools) shouted "olly olly oxen free" to brag that they made it. Whoever got tagged by "it" became "it", but "it" stayed "it" if they didn't tag anyone before all safe. When someone got tagged, I think we just shouted that the new person was it, and everyone went back to base to start over. We also played kick the can much the same way.
posted by Errant at 6:36 PM on April 8, 2011


We had a version of hide and seek called "Go home stay home", where people had to sneak back to "home" without the kid who was "it" catching them. When you get home you call "Home 123". The rules for it are here.

This was in New Zealand, so I'm not surprised the "ghouls"/"home" thing is different. I'm kind of surprised that the "123" part seems to be so cross-cultural.
posted by lollusc at 8:45 PM on April 8, 2011


Forty forty in the UK.
posted by muteh at 1:55 AM on April 9, 2011


Chicago, early to mid seventies, we called it glue. My mom thought it was hilarious because it was gool. The only Northeast tie that I can figure was that my mom grew up, not too far from the University of Chicago. Perhaps the northeastern influence brought the game terms with the transplanted children of students and professors...dunno.

You just opened the door to a ton of fun childhood memories. Thanks!
posted by zerobyproxy at 4:27 AM on April 9, 2011


Southern California. Yes, we had "gools", and the rules were fairly similar to yours.
Absolutely no connection to New England whatsoever.
posted by msali at 12:51 PM on April 9, 2011


Waaay back in the 60s/70s (suburban Long Island, NY), we had "base". And base could be anything; car, tree, lamppost, railroad ties, etc. We didn't play straight hide & seek much outdoors - that was more of an indoor game. Outdoors was freeze tag, red light/green light. Can't remember any more. We also had "flashlight tag" at night, but no base involved.

Oh, and we could have "electricity". That was when one person was touching the base, and he became part of the base. As did the next person. You could chain out the electricity as far as there were kids. But that had to be called prior to the game.

Also had a call similar to "olly olly oxen free".
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 6:27 AM on April 10, 2011


> Forty forty in the UK.

I was just going to say Forty-Forty as the UK equivalent, except that Forty-Forty usually involved the "it" person having to spot the other players, not actually tag them. Also, in the variations I remember, in order to successful spot the other players, the "it" player had to be touching the home base, which meant there was a lot of sneaking and not much chasing.

If I recall, the chasing version of Forty-Forty was called "Kick the Can" - which is odd, as that seems to have been a name used in the USA as well...

There was also the game called "it" where you chased and tagged another person to transfer the "it-ness" to them. That had a home base, but there wasn't really any winning move in making it home, it was just a safe area where you could avoid being tagged "it".

This would all be in the South, some time in the 1980s.
posted by iivix at 3:59 AM on April 11, 2011


This thread was awesome. Thanks, everyone!

Obviously there is no right answer so best answers in this case are mostly for people who played it the way I did.
posted by bondcliff at 10:05 AM on May 12, 2011


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