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OLD WITCH, WHAT TIME IS IT?

ANY NUMBER CAN PLAY, THE MORE THE BETTER. ONE PERSON PLAYS THE
PART OF THE WITCH, AND SHE STANDS FAR AWAY FROM THE REST OF THE
PLAYERS, WITH HER BACK TURNED AWAY FROM THEM. THE FIRST PLAYER SAYS
TO THE WITCH, "OLD WITCH, WHAT TIME IS IT?" THE WITCH RESPONDS WITH
A TIME ON THE HOUR, SUCH AS 1, 2, OR ANYWHERE TO 12 O'CLOCK, AND THE
PERSON TAKES THAT MANY STEPS. EACH PLAYER DOES THIS IN TURN, AND
THEY KEEP REPEATING UNTIL A POINT WHERE THE WITCH BELIEVES ONE OF
THEM IS CLOSE TO HER. WHEN THAT PERSON AGAIN ASKS HER "OLD WITCH,
WHAT TIME IS IT," SHE SAYS (OR USUALLY YELLS) "TWELVE O'CLOCK MID-
NIGHT" AND TURNS AROUND RUNNING, TRYING TO CATCH THE PERSON. IF SHE
SUCCEEDS BEFORE THE PERSON REACHES THE STARTING POINT WHICH SERVES
AS BASE, THAT PERSON BECOMES THE WITCH FOR THE NEXT GAME. IF SHE
FAILS TO CATCH THE PERSON, SHE REMAINS THE WITCH. IN ADDITION, IF
THE PLAYER GETS CLOSE ENOUGH TO THE WITCH TO TOUCH HER WHEN SHE IS
STILL TURNED AROUND, HE MAY DO SO, AND SHE WILL STAY THE WITCH FOR
THE NEXT GAME. (IN MY WORDS)

Submitter comment: THE GAME DESCRIBED ABOVE IS THE "CORE" GAME, BUT THERE ARE MANY
VARIATIONS. IN ONE THE WITCH MAY SAY SOMETHING SUCH AS "13 O'CLOCK"
OR EVEN "100 O'CLOCK." ALSO, THE GAME MAY INCLUDE DIRECTIONS ON WHAT
TYPE OF STEPS TO TAKE: AFTER THE WITCH GIVES THE TIME, SHE TELLS YOU
TO TAKE REGULAR, GIANT, BABY, OR SARSAPARILLA STEPS. THE SARSAPA-
RILLA STEP IS MADE BY TURNING COMPLETE CIRCULAR REVOLUTIONS WHILE AT
THE SAME TIME ADVANCING.
BEFORE A GAME YOU USUALLY STATE WHICH VARIANTS YOU WILL BE USING,
UNLESS IT IS UNDERSTOOD THAT IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD, YOU USE THE SAME
VARIANTS ALL THE TIME.
WHEN YOU PLAY WITHOUT THE VARIANT WHICH DICTATES THE STEP SIZE
TO TAKE, STRATEGY CAN BE EMPLOYED. A PERSON MAY TAKE HUGE STEPS,
TRYING TO GET UP TO THE WITCH SOON SO THAT HE CAN TAP HER ON THE
BACK. OR HE MAY TAKE TINY STEPS SO THAT HE NEVER GETS TOO FAR AWAY
FROM THE BASE, THEREFORE AVOIDING BEING CAUGHT.
THE WITCH CAN USE STRATEGY ALSO, BY OCCASIONALLY SAYING "12
O'CLOCK NOONTIME," TRYING TO FOOL THE PERSON INTO THINKING SHE SAID
"12 O'CLOCK MIDNIGHT:" IF THE PERSON RUNS BEFORE HE REALIZES THIS,
HE IS AUTOMATICALLY MADE THE WITCH. THIS MAY WORK IN REVERSE AT
TIMES, BECAUSE THE PLAYER MAY THINK FOR A MOMENT THAT THE WITCH HAS
SAID "12 O'CLOCK NOONTIME" WHEN ACTUALLY SHE HAS SAID "12 O'CLOCK
MIDNIGHT" AND HE MIGHT STAND STILL FOR THAT MOMENT, GIVING THE WITCH
EXTRA TIME TO CATCH HIM.

Where learned: OHIO ; MASSILLON

Subject headings: Favorites
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Racing Chasing Fighting

Date learned: 09-00-1973

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