Appalachia Games

Whoopy Hide

Hide n seek game

Hide n seek would have to come in as the number one game played by kids-or at least in the top five. I never heard the game called anything other than hide n seek until some of you Blind Pig readers referred to the game as whoppy hide. My Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has this to say about the game:

whoppy hide noun

A variant form hoopie hide.
B The children’s game hide and seek. Same as hide and whoop.
1939 Walker Mtneer Looks 7 And the game called “Hoopie-Hide” in Tuckaleechee is just plain “Hide-and-Seek” in Happy Valley. 1966-67 DARE (Burnsville NC, Gatlinburg TN, Maryville TN). 1973 GSMNP-74:25 We’d call it whoopyhide, but [they] call it hide and seek now. 1973 GSMNP-79:10 We’d use the big boulders that they’d scrape from the roads, beside the roads as our hiding places when we’d play whoopyhide. 1980 Smokies Heritage 224 Us boys liked the running games best, like “base,” “whoopee-hide,” and tag. 1996 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell, Jones, Ledford, Norris, Oliver).
[perh from the caller’s cry when beginning to search for those hiding]


Just a few days ago B. Ruth shared how she played hide n seek when she was a kid:

Tipper, We counted potatoes to see who would be “it”…with four following the third potato. As each member fell out the last one was “it”. We picked a home place! This game was generally played between dusk and 11 o’clock on a summer night while all the adults were sitting around talking. We got a big juice can or bean can and placed it at the home base, usually a scrap of wood or a tree. Then we would count potatoes again to see who would get to “kick the can”. When the can was kicked the “It” had to run and get it and bring it back to home base while we all scattered to hide…”It” would start looking for us and yell out if “it” saw one of us by name, or tagging one of us before we could run in to “kick the can” again. Which would start the game again to the despair of the “IT”. I only remember once or twice slipping in behind the “It” and getting a kick of the can before getting tagged. This game would wear you out…plus hiding in the dark could be creepy at times. Sometimes it was played with a stick and called “hit the can” which was more dangerous! We also did the Eenie Meenie one too, to pick the “It” person. Sometimes we would pick teams…I guess we just made up our own rules as we went along. The worst part was a lot of us had pet dogs and they would always give away where you were hiding….


The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore shares an old variation of hide n seek where a rhyme was called out just before the hunting started:

Bushel of wheat bushel of rye All not hid holler I

Then if no one answered the call:

Bushel of wheat bushel of clover
All not hid can’t hide over
All eyes open Here I come 


When I was kid, we counted potatoes to figure out who would be ‘it’. Then we chose a base, lots of times it was the back step of Mamaw and Papaw’s house (Uncle Henry’s house in later years) or a car parked in the yard. Whoever was it hid their head on base and counted loudly to a predetermined number while everyone else hid. Once the it person had counted they’d usually shout “Ready or not-Here I come!” and the game would commence. In our game if you made it back to base you were safe. My strategy was always the same try to hide in a spot that made it easy to sneak back to base while the seeker was out finding the other hiders. If the person who was it did find you in your hiding place you still had a chance to beat them back to base, but if the it person tagged you before you could get back to base then you were it for the next game.

Hide n seek was one of Chatter and Chitter’s favorite games when they were little. They wanted to play in the house and they wanted to play the game over and over even though the little rats always hid in the same places!

One day they were begging me to play with them and I finally gave in saying “Alright but no one hide in the hall closet or behind the bathroom door try to find a new place to hide.” I volunteered to be it first. I set in the living room with my eyes closed, counted, and then yelled I was coming to find them. As I started down the hallway I glanced into the foyer and seen a big lump under the rug Chatter had indeed found her a new place to hide: under the rug in the foyer. I laughed until I cried and she was so little she never did understand why I thought it was so funny, but she does now.

If your version of hide n seek or whoopy hide varied from the ones above please tell us about it. And if you have an interesting memory about a game of hide n seek share that too!



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  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    April 10, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I loved playing this after dark.. Guess that’s why so many of us got

  • Reply
    April 9, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Still not sure where the “whoopy” came from. Did someone yell “whoopy”??? If so, why’d they yell that instead of just yelling “Ready or not, here I come” like we did?
    Anyway when we played, usually the oldest was “it” first and then the one they found first were “it” the next time. We tried with running back to home base and tagging, but with that, someone always got hurt or hit, and cried, and that brought mom out usually to smack someone, so making the one found first “it” worked better for us.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    April 9, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Yep Ed, I remember sending someone over but still remember yelling send the ball over (the house, too) I’d say we made up rhymes that fit the games we played as well…or adapted the rhymes to other games to fit one we were playing.
    Ethel, it was you that sent the note about olley, olley oxen free.
    However, Sharon your comment stuck in my mind as well…
    I guess we all remember “Red Light, Green Light” and Mother, may I…and one of my very favorite ball games was “rolley-bat” What a hard time hitting the bat if the ground was bumpy with grass clumps…
    Thanks Tipper,
    I do believe Ed is right about Red Rover….now if anyone can remember the rhyme for the ball that’s thrown or rolled over the house to the person on the other side….Mom hated to hear that bumping sound and after about an hour would tell us to switch games that we were going to damage the roof shingles!
    Thanks Tipper again….

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I always thought Red Rover was when the children joined hands and called out someone’s name. The person who’s name was called had to run and try to break through the chain of kids. The weakest looking link didn’t always work. Red Rover, Red Rover send Tipper right over!

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    April 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    and Sharon…wow, I forgot about “olly olly oxen free”..I did remember “ready or not, here I come”, if you weren’t hid by the end of the number count and the “ready yell” you were usually caught.
    I am having such fun playin’ this game and tryin’ to remember more games we played.
    Does anyone totally remember how “Red Rover, Red Rover” was played. I got the “Red rover, red rover, throw (or roll) the ball over. We would watch in an attempt to catch it as it came over the house. But, seems like I remember something about catching the ball and running around to the other side and tagging the person…All help in remembering the rules to this game would be appreciated.
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    We called it Whoopy Hide back in
    the day. Sometimes you got to hide
    with a pretty girl. That’s when you got some of the best smoochin’
    and who cared if you got caught!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Our games of hide and seek (I’ve never heard it called Whoopy Hide, but that’s just fun!) were way less organized. I don’t recall how we chose the first It, but the next It was the first to be caught! The only rules were that after counting to twenty It had to say, “Ready or not, here I come!” and “Olly, olly, oxen free!” when they gave up. Then it was safe to come out.
    I used to play hide and seek in the house with my daughter too, and when she got a little older she taught our dog to seek her!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Was gonna say something earlier but due to my short attention span, I couldn’t hold on to the thought. The picture was great! I noticed something about the little girl in that picture; bet others did too. I have been told by people that should know that long slender fingers (as those in the picture) is a strong indicator that those possessing that trait are usually very talented as well as artistic. From what I’ve seen from your daughters I think they were right. Just sayin’!

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    April 8, 2013 at 10:52 am

    My grandmother always called “hide and seek” “Whoopy-hide”…”You kids go outside to play “whoopy-hide”! We didn’t like to because there wasn’t good places to hide in the daylight!
    The game we played was called
    “Kick-the-Can”! I asked my husband if he remembered and of course he did. He said sometimes the whole neighborhood would be over to the field to play. Usually only if parents were visiting..the others had to walk home before dark or just after dark.
    Thanks Tipper,
    I got another one about ball…

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Now I remember how we used the one potato, etc. It was for Hide and Seek. I have not heard Whoppy Hide. New term for me! It was always good fun; we never hid under a rug, however. Recently, I played the game with my granddaughter – the dog cheated. He would stand right next to the person hiding. We had such good laughs over it. Next time we will have to put the dog in a room by itself.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 9:32 am

    We called it hide and go seek and the rules were the same as yours. My granddaughters love to play the game and like Chitter and Chatter they usually hide in the same places.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I think we called it hide and go seek, too. I have been “it” many times while my girls hid inside. They would be in plain view while I pretended I couldn’t find them. The youngest would always jump out and try to scare me.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am

    That is a precious picture. You have beautiful children!
    I played hide and seek, just as you described it.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 8:24 am

    We played that game all the time. Hide and go seek was what we called it. However, sometimes the kids could be a little mischievous. One of their tricks was (and it happened to me once) they would let you go hide and then quietly go home and let you stay in the woods till you finally realized they weren’t ever coming to find you! LOL

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    April 8, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Back to counting ‘taters’… one more detail I recall is when the counter landed on her own fist after recting
    “1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato 4,
    5 potato, 6 potato, 7 potatp or,”
    she would tuck her fist behind her back and use her chin as the stand -in tater for the next go round of counting. Many decisions were made in this way.
    As for hide & seek,the kid who was “it” turned to face a tree with eyes closed and counted to an agreed upon number while we all hid. “It” would have to tag the hiders before they could run back to tag the tree where they were declared “in free.” The first to be tagged was the next “it.” If more hiders were still out there after the tag, “it” would call, “olley, olley oxen free!” then all would show up at the tree and atart a new game.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Ed-I think we may have called it hide n go seek now that you’ve mentioned it : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    speshull ed
    April 8, 2013 at 7:17 am

    whin i uz jist a littlin we plaid hoopie hide awl the tim til one tim we wuz playn an mi littlist bruther went two hide an nobidy ever fount hem. we thank the wild hogs mita caried him off. that wuz along tima go but weer stila lookin fur hem. i thank heed be bout fitty five yeers old now.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 8, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Hide & seek for us too. I never heard the other terms at all. It was my favorite game, but i ALWAYS got found.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 8, 2013 at 7:01 am

    We played the game the same as you but we called it hide and go seek. Mommy always called it hoopee hide.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 6:18 am

    “Ready or Not, Here I Come!”. (Just realized, that’s been the motto of my life 🙂

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