Posted by Bob on November 02, 1999
In Reply to: Olly olly oxen free posted by Gary Martin on November 02, 1999
: : I am trying to learn about the history/derivation of "Olly Olly oxen free!" which in America we use -- or used to use when I was a child (I'm now 50) -- to culminate a children's game -- was it Hide and Seek?
: : There is an intriguing batch of posted messages from Sheffield Hallam University which come up as a list when I search, but I have not been able to access their content.
: : If you could give me a synopsis or otherwise-obtained understanding re. "Olly Olly oxen free" I'd be grateful.
: Those unavailable messages were from this discussion
: group (this server runs from Sheffield Hallam Univ).
: I deleted a batch of messages a month or so ago -
: the ones you were looking for are probably still
: indexed in a search engine somewhere.
: Anyway - I can't help much with your query, apart
: from saying that the phrase my friends and I used
: for this was 'erky, one, two, three'. The last time
: I played hide and seek was some years ago, in
: the English Black Country (an industrial region
: near the celestial city of Birmingham).
: Apparently, olly, olly... is widely known in the
: US, but I've never met anyone in England that
: has heard it used.
A lot of the variants are, clearly, regional. I've heard the easy to understand "home free all" and also something that ended with "all come free" which might relate to oxen free. Katherine Hepburn made a movie entitled "Olly Olly Oxen Free" in 1978, by the way.