Games About Love

old fashioned games spin the bottle, post office, barber,

Did you ever play Spin the Bottle or any of the other games designed to instigate contact between the opposite sexes? Oh the embarrassing yet exciting games of middle school-at least that’s how I remember them.

I was in about 8th grade when one of my friends had a boy/girl birthday party-up till then all the b-day parties I had been to were all girl affairs.

Her mother made fondue-which most of us didn’t know how to eat! And she had us take one shoe off and give it to her. She placed them in a big pile-one pile for the boys-one for the girls. Then we took turns picking a shoe. The shoe you picked = the person you were going to dance with-me and my friend almost died from embarrassment.

As backward as I was-I never got up the nerve to play spin the bottle. Taking a chance on kissing someone I thought was gross in front of the rest of my friends wasn’t something I was ever going to do.

Looking through The Frank C. Brown Collection North Carolina Folklore I found a few other courtship games-sometimes called play party games.


A boy and a girl stand at one side of the room. Another boy and girl catch hands and skip around them singing the first verse. The first boy responds with the second. The second couple sings the third and the first boy sings the fourth. At the end he asks “How about Mr. (one of the boys playing the game). The chosen boy comes up and takes the girl, and the singing dialogue is continued until all the girls but one are paired off. Then this last girl and the first boy clasp hands and raise them as in “London Bridge.” The couples dance through singing:

Come under, come under
My honey, my dove, my turtle dove;
Come under, come under
My dear, oh dear.

We’ll take you both our prisoners,
My honey, my love, my turtle dove;
We’ll take you both our prisoners,
My dear, oh dear.

Then hug her tight and kiss her twice,
My honey, my love, my turtle dove;
Then hug her tight and kiss her twice,
My dear, oh dear.

The last couple caught proceeds as directed in the last verse, and “go ahead.” The game goes on until each couple has been caught then the leaders dance under the clasped hands of all the other couples and are captured by the last. Then they too kiss each other and the game ends.


Old Sister Phoebe contributed by Maude Minish Sutton who obtained it from Bob Huskins a banjo picker from Mitchell. c. 1927.

Old Sister Phoebe, how happy are we
As we go ’round and ’round the juniper tree!
We’ll tie our heads up to keep them all warm,
And two or three kisses won’t do us no harm.
Old Sister Phoebe!

Here comes a poor widow a-marching around
And all of my daughters are married but one,
So rise up, my daughter, and kiss your true love.
Old Sister Phoebe!

This kissing game is a favorite among young people in the remote parts of the Blue Ridge. Bob (the informant) was a very picturesque person, and he sang this song to a rollicking, jiggy tune.


Flower in the Garden contributed by Maude Minish Sutton c. 1927. Collected in Big Ivy (Madison County).

There’s a flower in the garden for you, young man;
There’s a flower in the garden for you,
There’s a flower in the garden, pick it if you can;
Be sure not to choose a false-hearted one.

The boy in the center of the circle selects a girl, and those in the ring sing:

You got her at a bargain, my young man;
You got her at a bargain, I tell you,
But you promised for to wed her six months ago;
So we hold you to your bargain, you rascal you.

The couple kiss and the girl remains in the center. The second verse is the same except for a change from man and her to maid and him.


If you remember  any games like the ones above from your childhood I’d love to hear about them-so please leave me a comment!


*Source: The Frank C. Brown Collection Of North Carolina Folklore.


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  • Reply
    February 21, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I remember Spin the Bottle and Shoe Pile, but I don’t remember any kissing going on during them. Course, I only remember one boy I wanted to kiss back then, and we were already going steady anyway, so maybe we didn’t want to trade off with anyone in those games.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Yes, I remember spin the bottle; it was a forbidden game when I was in elementary school and high school. I like the shoe idea; it sort of broke the ice I would think. I was very shy about dating and stuff, so I really didn’t date until college.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    February 17, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Oh the memories you have awakened. Another special memory was when a bashful boy was asked to dance at a Sadie Hawkins Day Dance by one of the prettiest girls there, I was embarresed but how could I refuse, this helped bring me out of my shell and I still appreciate her gift. The best part was that my first cousin had a crush on this girl and he and I were always competing, he has never danced with her even though fifty years has passed so that makes me the winner.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    February 17, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Ienjoyed this post. I remember playing “spin-the-bottle” and was so glad the boy I won was a good friend…so we just went behind the door and laughed and made like we had a great big “smooch”!
    We poked our heads around the door and eyes were bugging out of their heads as we came strutting back toward the group!
    We did a dance like the second one, in our culture dance semester for gym…no one got to kiss…it was more for the music, moving down the lane to get caught by another couple. I can’t remember how it went exactly..I didn’t think it was such fun..
    PS…The spring peepers have been peeping here for a week or more and the chorus frogs are tuning up…Yes, even with the cold weather…
    Love to all…Tip

  • Reply
    February 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Was always too shy to play those games but I did think about it alot. I must have been about fourty five before I got to kiss a girl. No, not really but it took me longer than the other boys. But, I’ll tell you one thing, the first time I did I was totally ready to get married right there on the spot!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I liked that Spin the Bottle game,
    especially when those two pretty
    sisters that lived not too far from me got involved. They were
    a few years older than me, but
    that made it better. One time I
    overheard one of them talking about me, saying I was a good kisser and had those dreamy blue
    eyes…well, as you can imagine,
    I was instantly in Love…Ken

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 16, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Never played spin the bottle or any of the other games. I was far too shy and reserved.
    I like the picture. It is filled with the promise of love.

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