Appalachia Games

Pretty Girl Station

Angie and Tipper - Martins Creek Elementary School

Angie and Tipper – Martins Creek Elementary SchoolΒ 

Pretty Girl Station is a game I remember playing in the grassy fields that lay below old Martins Creek School. We called the game Bum Bum Bum. The game has many variations and seems to have differed depending on the region a person is from. I’ll share the way I played it as a child and if the game went a different way where you lived, please leave a comment and tell us about it.

The game begins with a group of kids dividing themselves into teams. Each team makes a long line. The lines face each other-leaving a good distance between each other.

Each group huddles up-and decides on an occupation which they want to portray. A line is picked to go first before hand-then the line chosen marches towards the other while singing: Bum bum bum here we come all the way from Washington.

The marching singing line stops short just in front of the other line. The other line yells out a series of questions and the marching singing line answers:

Where’re you from?
Pretty Girl Station

What your occupation?
Doing things.

Well get to work!

The marching singing group begins to act out their chosen occupation- sorta like the game of charades. The other line tries to figure out what they are doing by yelling out guesses. If the right guess is screamed out-the marching singing group takes off running with the guessing group giving chase. The marching singing group tries to make it back to their side of the field without being caught-if a person is caught-they must join the other group.

The game continues with each side taking turns acting out a chosen occupation.

I have such fond memories of this game-thinking of it always makes me smile. It makes me think of teachers who have long since retired like Ms. Reeves, Ms. Carringer, Ms. Brenda, and Ms. Sult; of elementary school classmates playing in the sunshine with a breeze blowing through the grass that already needs cutting again.

Did you ever play Bum Bum Bum or did you call it Pretty Girl Station?

Tipper

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

 

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44 Comments

  • Reply
    Rita
    November 29, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    I was born in 1945 in Charlotte NC, and the neighborhood kids were already playing “Bum-bum-bum” by the time I was old enough to take part. My mother told me it was from the days of the Great Depression, when “bums” were riding the rails and otherwise going around looking for work of any kind they could get. Our chant was pretty much the same: Bum-bum-bum, here I come! — Where you from? — Pretty Girl (or Boy, we weren’t particular) Station. — What’s your occupation? — Most any old thing! — Get to work!
    Thanks for the reminder of those days, when we played outdoors with a gazillion other neighbor kids till our moms started calling us to supper. I can see the draw of today’s flashy-techie-toys, but I’ve got to say there’s nothing like playing simple games barefoot in the good, clean dirt.

    • Reply
      Thomas Terry
      February 20, 2019 at 9:23 am

      We played it at Appomattox Elementary School in the late 50s and early 60s. Boys and girls played it together, same rules, a little difference in the chant.

  • Reply
    AnitaLaPlant
    August 1, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Bum bum bum
    Here we come
    All the way from Washington
    Where are you from?
    Pretty Girl ( Pretty Boy) station.
    What’s your occupation?
    Almost any old thing.
    Well, get to work and do it right.
    Pantomime your chosen occupation (no talking and no props) until the opposing team guesses correctly, then dash back to your side without being caught and taken by the opposing team.

  • Reply
    Darlene Debty
    March 3, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Yep! We played Bum, Bum, Bum in the same place your girls did. Loved it! Thanks for the reminder. In case you didn’t know, my class of 1979 raised the money to pay for that sign the girls are standing beside of. That would include your brother, Steve and cousin, Gail πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Nik
    February 20, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    We played this in North Carolina when I was in elementary school, 1955-1960. Our chant went like this:
    Bum, bum, bum, here we come,
    Where you from,
    Pretty girl station,
    What’s you occupation,
    Most any ole thing,
    Get to work!

  • Reply
    Vanessa
    January 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Here is what we said in rural North Georgia in the early 70s:
    Bum, Bum, Bum
    Here we come
    Beatin our drums
    And throwin our thumbs (reference to hitchhiking).
    Where ya from?
    Pretty Girl Station
    What’s your occupation?
    Most anything
    Then wash your hands
    And get to work (act out your job).
    The women’s liberation movement (beatin our drums) and times of early 70s show in this version.

  • Reply
    Shelia Dulz
    November 5, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    I was just thinking about this game and searched for it on a whim. I am from Cullman County, Alabama. We played “Bum, Bum, Bum” all through elementary school at West Point. For me, that would have been from 1966 until 1972. A teacher taught it to us on the playground. We were divided into two teams facing each other in two lines and went through the marching to the rhyme/acting out a trade–action–charades/chase home when they guessed parts just as described here, but our rhyme was a little different.
    We chanted:
    Bum, bum, bum,
    Here we come,
    Blowing our bugles and beating our drums.
    (Where you from?)
    New Orleans.
    (What’s your trade?)
    Sweet lemonade.
    (Get to work and get it made.)
    The “Bum, bum, bum” line was our drum beat as we marched toward the other line. I loved the game, but never would have recognized it by “Pretty Girl Station.” We were girls and boys playing together and called it “Bum, Bum, Bum.”

    • Reply
      Brenda Wheeler
      March 15, 2019 at 3:16 pm

      I’m from Anderson, AL and this is the exact way we played it too! πŸ™‚

    • Reply
      Joan Anderson
      February 11, 2020 at 12:39 pm

      We were taught a very racist line in answer to “what’s your occupation”. I remember the games vividly and not at all fondly.

  • Reply
    Melissa
    September 10, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Yay!! I’ve been trying to remember this game. I played this at a friends birthday party for the first time in Mocksville, NC around 1970. I called her and we tried to remember details. I wanted to share with My GA’s (Girls’s in Action) at First Baptist Church. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Jean
    August 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    We played this in Easley, SC in the 1950’s!

  • Reply
    Keith Jones
    July 18, 2016 at 8:00 am

    We must have been less imaginative over in GA mountains, we just played Red Rover and Fox and Hounds.

  • Reply
    Fay Nell Pitts
    July 17, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    It is so funny at what all I have forgotten as time marches on. We called this game “Bum, bum, bum, here we come,” playing it at home and at school. Kids now-a days don’t know what fun they have missed out on. Thanks for the reminder of the olden days!!

  • Reply
    Tipper
    June 2, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Amy
    Thank you for the comment! So neat that you remember the game too : ) I hope you have a great day and I hope you drop back by the Blind Pig often!

  • Reply
    Amy Cochran
    May 31, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Oh my goodness! I have searched for this game online many times and this is the first time I’ve ever gotten any results. My mom taught us this game when we were kids in the 80’s. One of my fondest memories of us kids playing together. We lived in a small town, and we had to come up with something to do besides run through cotton fields, ride bikes and climb trees. I never really understood some of the chant and what it was actually saying…but I do remember we said, Bum, Bum, Bum, here we come, chewing on a mouth full of bubble gum, What’s you’re trade…Sweet Lemonaide, where’re you from (then picked a state), well get to work or get away!!…then we would act out whatever we had chosen…dentist, cowboy, astronaut, gymnast…you name it! Lol Then run for our lives to base when the other team guessed it before they tagged us. Such great memories. I’m so glad to finally get some Google search results back and to hear your version of the game. I’m 38 now with two kids of my own andIm going to teach them how to play! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Amy Cochran
    May 31, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Oh and we did ask “Where’re you from” and always just picked a state….then said “Well get to work or get away!” I guess bc we were bums?! Idk πŸ™‚ Anyways, it was a fun game!

  • Reply
    Amy Cochran
    May 31, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Oh my goodness! I have searched for this game online many times and this is the first time I’ve ever gotten any results. My mom taught us this game when we were kids in the 80’s. One of my fondest memories of us kids playing together. We lived in a small town, and we had to come up with something to do besides run through cotton fields, ride bikes and climb trees. I never really understood some of the chant and what it was actually saying…but I do remember we said, Bum, Bum, Bum, here we come, chewing on a mouth full of bubble gum, What’s you’re trade…Sweet Lemonaide, we’ll get to work or get away…then we would act out whatever we had chosen…dentist, cowboy, astronaut, gymnast…you name it! Lol Then run for our lives to base when the other team guessed it before they tagged us. Such great memories. I’m so glad to finally get some Google search results back and to hear your version of the game. I’m 38 now with two kids of my own andIm going to teach them how to play! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Hazel R Carr
    September 5, 2015 at 9:11 am

    In eastern North Carolina we also played Pretty Girls Station…..same actions as others have stated, but we said – teams facing each other –
    Team 1:Bum, bum, bum here we come.
    Team 2:Where are you from?
    Team 1: Pretty Girl Station
    Team 2:What’s your trade
    Team 1:Hot Lemonade
    Team 2: Get to work
    then team 1 acted (like charades) and if someone on team 2 guessed it correctly, team 1 would start running home. If anyone was caught, that person had to be on team 2.

  • Reply
    Kathy Hudson
    August 21, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    We played this game as children in Gaston County,NC. We called it “Bum, Bum, Bum” and we would recite, “Bum, Bum, Bum, Here we come…All the way from Washington.” The other team would ask “Where are you from?” and we’d answer…”Pretty Girl Station.”(while acting prissy and patting our “hairstyles” and wiggling our hips) The other team would ask…”What’s your occupation?” and we would answer…”Most any ole thing.” The other team would say…”Well get to work and do it right!” We would then act out whatever our “occupation” was while the other team would ask us questions and try to guess what that occupation was. When they guessed correctly, we would high-tail it back to our side. If you got tagged you had to go over to the other team and work with them acting out their occupation. Those were the days when children used their imaginations playing games outdoors and had so much fun while doing it. Thanks for reminding us all of a simpler time in life.

  • Reply
    Jessica Moss Howells
    June 29, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Yep. Played it in Durham, NC, around 1961 or so when I was 4 at a little nursery school across the street on Roxboro Rd. We called it Pretty Girl Station (and sometimes Bum, Bum, Bum).

  • Reply
    Debbi Jarvis
    March 31, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    New to your blog, but seeing Pretty Girl Station reminded me of another game my mother taught me: Red Rover. Two teams lined up opposite each other a good distance apart. The “receiving” team would link arms and their captain yell, “Rover, Red Rover, send Susie (or whoever) right over.” Then Susie on the other team would size up the opposition and run toward the receiving team, trying to break through the arms of two of the players. If she succeeded, she got to take a player of her choice back with her to her team. If she failed, she had to stay on that team. Of course her original team could call her back, and she wouldn’t try very hard to break through if she wanted to get back on her old team! Ah the good old days… I’m a third grade teacher now and wouldn’t dare try this with my class. I’d never hear the end of the whining and parents complaining!

  • Reply
    Elsie
    November 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Many thanks,
    However I am encountering problems with your
    RSS. I don’t know why I can’t join it. Is there anybody getting identical RSS problems?
    Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond?
    Thanx!!

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    April 24, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I used to play this game at school and it was so much fun!

  • Reply
    Charline
    April 23, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    My Mother would say this a lot, and I thought she was reciting an old rhyme! It was a little different from your version. She may have described the game to us, but I’ve never played it.

  • Reply
    RB Redmond
    April 23, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    I don’t recall ever playing a game remotely like that.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Tipper
    April 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Ken-LOL-no actually Im the number 10 : )

  • Reply
    Tipper
    April 23, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Rebecca-look at the bottom of the email or notice you get for each new post. There will be an unsubscribe link there-I think all you do is click it and then you’re unsubscribed. Safe travels!!

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    April 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Oh yes, I remember playing this game. We called it Pretty Girl Station and said whats your occupation. Barbara Gantt

  • Reply
    Ken
    April 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Tipper,
    In the above picture, ain’t the
    pretty little girl (#4) that’s
    standing pigeon toed…You? It’s
    nice to reflect back to the days
    of our youth, brings back many
    memories from an innocent time.
    …Ken

  • Reply
    Ken
    April 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Tipper,
    I remember playing that game when
    I was in grammer or primary school and it was lots of fun. We played
    it at Social events too, like at
    Church when we had ‘dinner on the
    ground’…Kem

  • Reply
    Mama Crow
    April 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Tipper,
    Mama and I have been trying to riddle out Bum, Bum, Bum, and Pretty Girl Station for TWO years, and here you are laying it out for us plain as day. I learned it at Berryhill School in first grade (51 yeaa ago) and Mama plalyed it at school up Hanging Dog. Thank you so much for being our own personal Wikipedia. love, Mama Crow

  • Reply
    NCMountainwoman
    April 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Oh yes, we played this all the time. Except that we answered “What’s your occupation?” with “Any old thing.” I haven’t thought of the game is years and don’t think my own children ever played it.

  • Reply
    Tipper
    April 23, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Nina-after reading your comment-I think those are the things we said too: most any ole thing and well get to work and show us something good : )

  • Reply
    Ethel
    April 23, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I’ve never heard of this game, but it sure does sound like fun!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 23, 2013 at 11:10 am

    ooops — that was Pretty Girl Station!!! My keyboard skips things πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    April 23, 2013 at 11:09 am

    we said: “bum, bum, bum where you from.” “Pretty Station” “What’s your trade?” “Sweet Lemonade” “Then go to work and show your motion.”

  • Reply
    Rebecca Brooks
    April 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Tipper,
    I love reading your blog everyday. I played Bum, Bum, Bum in Hickory. However, I need to unsubscribe to your blog while I am traveling. I can’t find an unsubscribe link. Can you help me? I plan on resubscribing when I return.
    Thanks, Rebecca Brooks

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    April 23, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Tipper,
    I have done some pondering and a little backards thunking on this one. I cannot ever remember playing this game. Only charades!
    I wonder if it was particular to the area, started by a teacher.
    When you started the paragraph with the comment about Pretty Girl Station, my mind went directly to my nieces long ago Barbie doll head and the pink hair makeup station. It had a mirrow, a dryer, curling iron, big rollers, makeup colors, etc. I guess could be a learning tool, to pretty up different hair styles, make-up that could be wiped off..etc.
    Thanks Tipper, I would love to see a picture of your Crissy!
    I am hoping to find one (cheap) one day at a yard sale. Why, I don’t know..I’m mostly out of the antigue business, I’m too old for dolls, my Granddaughters are getting to old for dolls…I think it is just the thrill of the hunt!

  • Reply
    dolores
    April 23, 2013 at 8:29 am

    No, I never played nor have I heard about this game. It sounds rather interesting, almost like Charades.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    April 23, 2013 at 8:07 am

    We knew the game as Bum, Bum, Bum at Black Mountain Primary. I had forgotten it until reading your words. Mrs. Whitaker, beloved teacher, introduced the game to my first grade class. Despite its reference to pretty girl station, the game appealed to girls and boys alike. Mrs. Whitaker taught so much more than reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. She inspired students to a life of sharing, kindness, and love for others. Our town lost her last year, but her memory lives on in the lives she touched.

  • Reply
    Nina Chastain
    April 23, 2013 at 8:00 am

    We called it Bum, Bum, Bum , too. These memories almost makes you wish you were a kid again, ha. However , we didn’t say “from Washington.” When asked “what’s your occupation” the answer was ” most any ole thing”, then the other side would say ” Well, get to work and show us something. Good Memories and those games didn’t cost anything. Thanks, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Darlene Kimsey
    April 23, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Even your big brother, Steve played Bum, Bum, Bum with us at Martins Creek. I say Bum Bum Bum at least once a week as I go down the hall to my daughter’s room. Another favorite that we played was Red Rover.

  • Reply
    D C Porcine
    April 23, 2013 at 7:16 am

    We called it Bum Bum Bum. When we got to the part about where we were from the boys said Pretty Boy Station. I would hesitate to describe myself thusly in this day and time.
    Not all the bums left Washington. In fact there is more than a plenty left there. They are as prolific as bunnies in a briar patch.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 23, 2013 at 7:10 am

    This is a new one to me, but it sounds like so much fun~!

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