Appalachia Games

Drop The Handkerchief

Drop the handkerchief

Drop the Handkerchief is a game I remember playing in the gym of the old Martins Creek School. The game is very similar to Tap Hand or Duck Duck Goose.

Everyone stands or sits in a large circle. One person is picked to be ‘it’ and given a handkerchief. The it person walks around the outside of the circle and picks someone to drop the handkerchief behind. The people in the circle are told not to turn around to see who’s going to get picked-but of course the people on the sides can see whats happening on the other side-and their faces always alert you when the handkerchief has been dropped.

Once the handkerchief is dropped, the it person takes off running with the handkerchief person running in hot pursuit-both people try to get back to the empty spot in the circle before the other does. The game continues as such-with the person left out of the circle becoming the handkerchief dropper.


Not many people carry around a handkerchief these days-of course the game could be played with something else just as well.

In today’s ‘green’ world it looks like handkerchiefs would make a comeback-who knows maybe they are. I know at least one gentleman-one of Pap’s best friends who still uses a handkerchief. There are probably other friends of Pap’s who still use them-but I only know the one gentleman I’m thinking of does for sure. Pap sometimes carries one and sometimes doesn’t.

While googling around about handkerchiefs I discovered a few interesting tidbits:

  • The Art of Manliness: this site tells all the reasons men should get back into the habit of carrying a handkerchief.
  • Etsy: you can find a gazillion vintage handkerchiefs.

Did you ever play Drop the Handkerchief? Do you carry a handkerchief on a regular basis or know someone who does?


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    May 3, 2022 at 10:44 am

    My husband has carried one as long as I can remember, never uses it. Sits along side his keys and wallet. Remember when a gentleman would offer his handkerchief to a lady in tears? I have a few ladies handkerchiefs I have collected at yard sales that I thought were so pretty.

  • Reply
    Jeffrey R. Hardin
    May 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    We played this often whilst living up on Kings Mountain NC…
    Had forgotten all about this game…Just a fun article thank ya…I still can’t get over the great selection of music here and wanted to leave one of my own for y’all.
    My grandmother, Momma Dot, use to hum and sing this song and wanted to share it with you folks, being it gets your kicker started…
    wayfaring stranger

  • Reply
    Lauren Koch
    May 6, 2013 at 9:38 am

    I remember playing duck, duck, goose but I don’t remember using a hanky. This sounds fun. I was wondering if y’all ever played Button, Button, Who’s got the Button?

  • Reply
    RB Redmond
    May 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I don’t remember playing this game, but might have. Bro Tom carries a handkerchief, a bandana one. I remember having the most beautiful embroidered ones as a child. And online, I saw a baby quilt someone had made out of the old embroidered handkerchiefs that was very beautiful.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 2, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    I had plum forgot about all the preachers who kept a handkerchief in their hand as they paced back and forth in front of the pulpit. They used it to wipe the sweat off their brow. They used it to wipe the froth, the foam, the slobbers, whatever that stuff was that came out of the corners of their mouths when they preached. I was glad to see a preacher with a hanky because the ones without, used the back of their hand instead, then after the service wanted to shake my hand.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    May 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    My Dad, Father-in-law and husband all were hankerchief carriers…I try to get my husband to use tissue but nope..too sissy he says plus it wads up in his jeans..???
    Let me tell you about my husbands first job just before we were married. I was so proud…??? He got a job as a bank teller. Like many banks there were tons of girls around. We were to be married on a Friday. On Thur as usual my husband donned his suite with the little fake hankerchief in the left front pocket. Back in the day and maybe today, these were usually white folded attached to a piece of cardboard tucked in the pocket neatly with just the tips showing. Another hankerchief was carried in the pants pocket if needed. When my husband took off his suit jacket to go to lunch, some misciefvious girls put powder in the fold of that fake hankerchief…Just before closing or as it was…One of the girls asked to see his hankerchief a second. He said he didn’t have one the there was fake as he pulled it out to show her…Real perfumey powder went everywhere, all over his suit, all over his face, hands and pants…You know how hard it is to brush white powder off a black suit…When he came by to pick me up at my work, when I got in the car it smelled of women…What is that I said…He went on to tell me and at first I was kinda mad, because the suit would have to be cleaned and then thought it was very funny as a joke to me and to him…All was forgiven, I had to because the girls gave him a grooms shower so to speak and sent the gifts home to give me from them…
    Thanks Tipper,
    For the memory of the fake hankerchief joke that I hadn’t thought of in years…

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm


  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    May 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    We sang the song – “A tisket a tasket a green and yellow basket. I wrote a letter to my mom and on the way I dropped it, I dropped it. On the way I dropped it.” We’d keep saying “I dropped it, I dropped it” until the person dropped the hanky.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I think I remember that game being
    fun to play. I still don’t carry
    a handkerchief and pollen has never
    been an issue for me.
    But one of my favorite Gospel
    Singers, Vestal Goodman always had
    that Signature Handkerchief as she
    I knew a lot of men who use to
    carry a handkerchief, most were
    of the Greatest Generation from

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Yes, we played drop the handkerchief and yes, I know someone who carries one still. My husband.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 10:27 am

    I have never played the handkerchief game. When at school years ago we just played baseball all the time. No, never produced any professional players but, we loved to play.
    I have a special keepsake handkerchief that was with me at some of the most memorable times in my life. I only put it in my suit pocket on special occasions.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Facial Tissues are supposed to be more sanitary since they are disposable – but they just don’t have the charm of a nice handkerchief.
    I learned to embroidery on kitchen towels and on my Granddad’s, Grandpa’s, Dad’s, and Uncle’s Sunday handkerchiefs – Monograms mostly and occasionally a simple design. Grandma tried to teach me to crochet a nice edge on the ladies (Granny, Grandma, Aunts, Mom’s) handkerchiefs, but I wasn’t very good at it. (My sickly sister and I were the only children in the 4 generations present – no cousins in Texas then.)
    I have a collection of Grandma’s hankies – they are lovely – and bring back many fond memories. When Grandma died, something didn’t look right about the way she was laid out in the coffin. We put a hankie with a fine crocheted edge and an embroidered rose in the corner in her hand and everything was fine.

  • Reply
    jane childers
    May 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

    my grandma kept her change tied up in one end of her handkerchief.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Yes we played “Drop The Hankerchief” at my country school and “Mr May I” which all I remember is the name, guess I could google it, huh? And lots of other old timey grade school games. What fun to look back to the year 1935, my first year in a 2 room grade school two miles from our farm. Now you know I am definitely a senior citizen.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 9:50 am

    I usually have a handkerchief in my pocket, either a bandana in a coat pocket or a cut-down-smaller bandana in the pocket of my dungarees. Tissues don’t really work for me…they always seem to be either shredded beyond usefulness or covered in bits of hay, etc.
    I was really pleased to find a little shop that carried bandanas that are Made in the USA, when I was in Maine a few years back, picking up goats. I also picked up a supply of bandanas 🙂
    (By the way, Tipper, I linked to you from my blog a few days ago, when I posted a picture of yellow bells!)

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

    My granny always carried a handkerchief. I have a picture of her sitting by a coffin with the ever-present handkerchief in her hand.
    We played Drop The Handkerchief in school, but don’t think we called it that.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    May 2, 2013 at 8:44 am

    I remember playing the game of Drop the Handkerchief but hadn’t thought of it in years. Thanks for the reminder. I used to carry a handkerchief all the time but haven’t in years.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I am a handkerchief person. I always carry one with me. I have a very small collection of very old ones that my mother-in-law had in her drawer. I cherish them and take them out to look at some of the handwork. We used to use a handkerchief when we played a tisket, a tasket…..

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 2, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I remember Drop the Hankerchief. I’ve been surprised to remember several of these games. If you had asked me what children s games I played I probably would have told you none, but that’s not true.
    I don’t know if we could ever get back to hankerchief’s for men and women. We are such a throw away society.
    I’ve known some men who carried a hankerchief but none that I know now.

  • Reply
    sheryl Paul
    May 2, 2013 at 8:12 am

    only carried on the church, never used it though, it was somehow part of dressing up to go. The game is so familiar, but I don’t think we ever used a handkerchief

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 2, 2013 at 7:56 am

    I never carried a handkerchief. The only use I ever found for them was to disguise me when I went to rob the bank. And even then, when the chase was on, it would slip down and reveal my identity.
    I do remember my parents carrying them. Not so much for the usual purposes but as an emergency bandage or to fold up to a point and get something out of an eye. I’ve seen them tied up in a bundle with flower or vegetable seeds inside.
    I remember Mommy saying someone’s baby that was so small that a silver dollar would cover it’s face and they had to diaper it with a handkerchief.
    A handkerchief also makes a good truce flag when you are tired of guarding the fort and it’s getting dark and your brother won’t stop pummeling you with snowballs.

  • Reply
    May 2, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I carry one. I very rarely use it for myself. My wife will ask for it pretty often and our daughter constantly needed it when she was little.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    May 2, 2013 at 7:01 am

    I carry a handkerchief all the time, but normally use Kleenexes. With all the pollen in the air right now, they’re sure enough needful.

  • Leave a Reply