Saturday, May 2, 2009

Before We Lived in Castles We Played "Andy Andy Over"

When we drive into the city (which is not a large city, only 83,000 population) I am always amazed at the size of today's new homes. They look like castles with three stories plus basement and I hesitate to even guess their square footage. I wonder to myself, "Who does the cleaning/dusting/vacuuming in those huge homes?" Even though we have carpet in only two small rooms, vacuuming is not my favorite task of the week. I can't imagine having the job of cleaning a mansion. (At which point I concede these people must hire someone to come in and do such a menial task.)

My aunt and uncle lived almost their entire married live in a 660 square foot house. They moved from Nebraska to Iowa some time prior to 1945. Soon after, my uncle purchased a chicken house and moved it onto a lot in town. Then he renovated it inside and out and made a tidy little home where he and Antony Overhis wife raised three children. My aunt was a wonderful homemaker who could sew, cook, clean, garden. She kept their little home spotless. They were a God-fearing (or God-loving, whichever you prefer for both are true) couple who lived a simple life. They lived there until they both passed away a number of years ago.

As children my brothers and I often visited their home and always felt welcome. They didn't put up with any nonsense, though, and sharply reprimanded my brother when he threw rocks high into the air for their dog to catch and fetch. (His poor teeth!) And Aunt forbade another brother to play the victrola after he kept dragging his fingers on the records, causing the record to play slower and slower and lower and lower.

Outdoors, in the cool of the evening, when the adults were busy indoors visiting, we played Antony Over with cousins. I used to call it Andy Over but Antony Over is the more original name. The Dictionary of American Regional English mentions the game as being played in the Appalachian area in the late 1800s and being possibly of Scots origin. Players gathered on opposite sides of the house. One person would yell "Antony Over" (or Andy Andy Over) as he tossed a rubber ball over the roof of the house. On the other side the team members would try to catch the ball. If they failed, they yelled "Pigtail" and would themselves toss the ball over the roof, again yelling "Andy Andy Over." If those on the far side caught the ball in the air before it bounced they would speed around to the other side of the house and try to catch a player before the members of that team ran to the far side of the house. I don't remember the rules exactly, but that is the gist of it.

Recently I found this game mentioned in an old book that I am reading. One British bookseller says this about the book: "S.R. Crockett's The Stickit Minister and Some Common Men, published in 1893, was among the best-selling works of fiction of the decade. Set mostly in Galloway, in the south west of Scotland, these spirited tales offer an entertaining blend of wry humour, subtle pathos and social observation, told in energetic prose and vigorous Scots (Scots dialect)." So there you have it...the game was played in Scotland and in all probability was brought to the Appalachians by Scots immigrants.

I don't think anybody living in today's castle-like homes will be playing Antony Over. They'd have a difficult time tossing a rubber ball high enough to clear the peak. But then, I'm not certain anyone ten years younger than I will have even heard of the game.

Andy Andy Over! Pigtail!


Laurie M. said...

Have you ever seen a picture of my house on my blog? It was built in 1905 and is not unlike the one in your picture. It's been added on to at least once and has the smallest bedrooms I've ever seen in a home. We had to remove our bedroom door and put in a folding door because there wasn't enough room to open it all the way with a bed in there! I don't think the closets are original either, but it's hard to tell. Anyway, I used to live in a house almost double the size, one of those cookie-cutter homes. I wouldn't want to go back. This is so cute and cozy, even though it needs quite a bit of interior decorating yet. I think it's a perfect grandma house. I hope I still get to live in it when I'm a grandma, but that's the Lord's business, not mine.

Thanks for sharing such a sweet story.

Renna said...

We used to play that game as kids in Oklahoma, but we said something else. The words are escaping my memory. Drat. I wish I had someone I could ask. I'm thinking maybe we said "annie, annie, over". It might be that it was supposed to be "andy", and in our Oklahoman way of talking, it came out as "annie". ;-)

Sheri said...

Nice story Pat. Brings back memories.
I think I know what city you speak of. We used to drive over and shop now and then when I was growing up in NW Iowa. If it's the one I'm thinking of it had a restaurant called the "The Tavern" that served the best loose meat sandwich in the free world. Once in a while I dream about eating them :)
Hope your doing well.

cinnamongirl93 said...

You are so right about the castles that are constructed. My motto is the bigger the house the more to clean. That's not for me! I live in a little house on the prairie built in 1859. My house has walls that are almost a foot thick. I'll take that over a castle any day.

yiddle said...

i miss that house. they had the BEST attic to play in. lots of old kitchen gadgets and marbles and all kinds of interesting stuff. and uncle never got mad at us for sharpening apples all over his pedal-powered grinding stone in the yard. and all the bikes he made we got to play on! bicycles built for 2, for 3 even. now when i visit town and drive by it looks so much smaller than it used to be.

Michelle said...

I am so in agreement with you about large homes...and I've come to this conclusion...the people that live in those large homes, more than likely, need two incomes to pay for it. And so, more than likely, they can afford to PAY someone to clean all 5000 or so sq. ft.

Our home is 960 sq ft and I can barely keep up with that!

I'm glad to hear that chemo is being kind to are very brave and God is very good.