Hide and Seek

Reverend Charles Newton Wood
b. 1869, Greentop; d. 1915, Novelty

In 1911, Rev. Wood celebrated fifteen years of continuous service with the Methodist Church in the Kirksville district by publishing a collection of his poetry, Wayside Musings. The first -- and best -- of the verses in the volume describes poignantly a familiar childhood game. The poem recalls -- presumably accurately -- the formulae of the game as it was played around Greentop in the 1870s. Rev. Wood would die suddenly four years later, days short of his 48th birthday, leaving behind a widow and six children between the ages of three and sixteen. The widow was a strong woman, however, who put herself through the District Normal School (now Truman State University) in order to obtain the teaching certificate that allowed her to see all six of her children through after her. Each of them went on to careers in teaching and ministry.

The poem is offered as a primary document of childlore, and a secondary document in the uses of folklore. And it's got its charms.

"Bushel o' wheat, bushel o' rye"--
     Have I dreamed those days or passed them by?
It seems to me as I think them o'er,
    I can still hear the feet on the old barn floor
And a clear-voiced urchin blithely cry:
    "Bushel o' wheat, bushel o' rye--
All 'taint hid holler 'I'!"

Slanting sun on a summer day,
    Mow piled high with the scented hay,
Red rose flashing on childhood's cheek--
    Now for a game of "hide and seek;"
Count a hundred as off we hie--
    "Bushel o' wheat, bushel o' rye--
All 'taint hid holler 'I'!"

Tucked in the manger, up in the mow,
    Hid in the rail-pile--you can't tell how,
Under the pig-shed, behind the door--
    Seeking a place never thought of before;
Hearts beating happily as swift feet fly--
    "Bushel o' wheat, bushel o' rye--
All 'taint hid holler 'I'!"

'I' and 'I' -- how very slow!
    Black-eyed Jennie and careful Joe
Want to be well hid--wise indeed!
    Ten more counted with anxious speed,
Then comes the test of foot and eye
    As "All 'taint hid holler 'I'!
All eyes open!" rises high.

Bright eyes watch for each well-known face--
    "One, two, three, for Annie and Grace!"--
"One, two, three for Willie and Joe--
    Behind the gran'ry--I saw you--oh
You're there I know; you can't fool me!"
    Swift and sly with "one, two, three!"
Jennie and Joe have 'got home free.'

Say, do you know I'd give this farm
    To feel again sweet childhood's charm?
Just to toss this high-flown wisdom away
    For 'hide and seek' on a summer day?
Of those in the golden days gone by,
    Who played with me in the haymow high,
    Wonder how many could answer 'I'?
 
 

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