Childhood Game

Ringolevio 123

In this game, two teams are formed and the teammates would spread out around the neighborhood. You would form two teams and people would spread out around the neighborhood. The point was to search for members of the opposite team. One team was the catcher team and the other was the prey. If you spot another person on the opposite team, you would have to catch and hold him or her and say, “Ringolevio 123-123-123.” If the prey was able to get away before then, he or she wouldn’t be captured, but if the catcher held him or her long enough to say the phrase, he or she was captured.

My dad said the faster guys would run toward the catchers, who would grab them, but the guys would break through—so the same people would always win. Because of this, you would always try to get them on your team.

My dad learned this game in Brooklyn, New York. It could be played anywhere, in the streets, for example. Usually, there were 8-10 people per team, usually ranging form 8 years-old to early teens. When asked his reaction to the game, my dad said it was a lot of fun and one of his favorite games.

Personally, I think this game combines both Hide-and-Seek and Tag—two of my generation’s favorite games. Once again, it appears childhood games tend to spread across distance and generations. Either this, or the same kinds of games just naturally appeal to children.

When I looked up Ringolevio on the Internet, Wikipedia stated that it originated during the Great Depression in New York, which makes sense given my dad’s age and location. Apparently, it is also known as Relievio in Boston, Canada, and Ireland.

Annotation: Grogan, Emmett. Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps. New York: Citadel: 1990, 334