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On Tue, 29 Mar 2005 14:09:42 -0500, Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>
> Poster:       "Mark J. Reed" <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject:      Re: etymology question
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> On Tue, Mar 29, 2005 at 07:43:50PM +0100, Joe wrote:
> > We just shouted 'Found you!'.  After the person who was 'it' finished
> > counting, they shouted 'Ready or not, here I come!'.  I think the latter
> > was somewhat traditional.
>
> The latter is certainly traditional.  But "Ollie, Ollie, oxen free!" is
> not called when It *finds* someone; on the contrary, it's used when It
> gives up.  It signals to everyone still hiding that It concedes this
> round of the game, and it's time to start a new one, presumably with a
> different It.
>
> -Mark
>

When I was a kid, growing up here, near Monterey in California, we
used to say "Ready or not, here I come". I don't remember using
"Ollie, ollie oxen free!" until later when we heard another kid use
it. That was a great game, but I used to giggle too easily and was
often caught. Sometimes people would make a desperate break for
homebase, which was futile if the person who was it was quick and hung
around it, rather than going out to look for those hiding.