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Gary Shannon wrote:
> --- Joe <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > Gary Shannon wrote:
> <snip>
> > >
> > >As a kid in Michigan in the late 1940's we did not
> > say
> > >"oxen free", but "all's in free".
> > >
> > >
> >
> > Hmm.  Makes the 'German borrowing' idea more likely
> > - 'alle sind frei'?
>
> That was my impression.  Also, my hometown in Michigan
> had a very large Dutch population, and an annual
> Holland Tulip Festival. So it might have come to my
> neighborhood German -> Dutch -> English.
>
It's beginning to sound reasonable.  In the 19C Germans were a substantial
portion of the immigrant population. Up until WW I (when they were abolished
in a fit of hyper-patriotism), there were ancillary German-language schools
for the children of immigrants (in the Midwest, at least).  My mother (b.
1903) went to one, IIRC, in South Dakota (her father was Swiss-German); even
during WW II she occasionally expressed pro-German sentiments.  And in first
grade in school (1940) I recall we had a
"London-Bridge-is-falling-down"-type game at recess, to the tune/words of
"Ach, Du lieber Augustin". (The school was connected to a Lutheran college,
but I doubt that had anything to do with it.)

Even so, I don't remember shouting "olly olly oxen free" when playing tag,
but then, it's been a while.

A chant I do remember-- you tried to throw a ball over the roof of a house
(preferably 2-story), shouting "[&ni &ni aj ov@r\]" (annie annie I over?) to
alert the catcher on the other side. (At least, the "over" makes sense)