Stella Stella Olla

Informant is a University student from Canada, and claimed to have a fuzzy memory of her childhood, and thus did not remember everything about the game. But she offered what she did know, and was intrigued by the similarities between the two games, but said she preferred her version, simply because of nostalgia. We were seated with the Informant’s friend, who was from the United States (possibly Northern California) and knew the version called “Down by the Banks” though she did not offer the rest of the rhyme she knew, as she got distracted by another conversation.

Informant: Pausing, thinking. Like playground games?

Author: Can I give you an example? Yeah, like playground games!

Informant: Yeah, an example would help.

Author: Okay, I know when I was a kid would would play this game called “Down By The Banks of the Hanky Panky” and like, every time I talk to people about it they give me a different rhyme for it, but when I was a kid, it would go, and you would all sit in a circle, like this [crossed leg with hands out facing the sky and wrists rested on knees] and you would slap the other person’s hand, in a circle, the next person’s hand, until you were down to two people, and you’d like [demonstrates pushing hands back and forth]

Informant: Oh, we called that “Stella Stella Olla”

Author: Tell me about “Stella Stella Olla” that’s awesome.

Informant: It… [singing] “Stella Stella Olla clap clap clap” I don’t even know the words, just like sounds, like [rocking head back and forth] “Asha Cheeka Cheeka Asha Cheeka Cheeka, Below, Below, Below, Below, Below, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5” and on the five it was the person who

Author: Who got slapped and they were out?

Informant: Yeah

Author: Oh okay, cool. And then how would you… So you would sit in a circle and everything or. Or how would you play it?

Informant: Yeah and you would [holding hands out] Can. Can I get like. Two people’s hands here?

Author: Yeah. [Other party and Author place hands in Informant’s hands.]

Other Party: [Big Laugh, then singing] Down by the Banks of the…

Informant: And like. No like this. [Places downward facing hand of Other Party upward] And then you would [slaps Other Party’s hand] “Stella Stella Olla” [Clapping to each word, lazily.] And you would like pass it around, and go.

Author: No, no yeah, I gotcha, I gotcha. Okay, cool.

Informant: And then the last one would be like this. [Performs a clapping gesture as though it were a pair of hands, slapping one hand to the center (a fist), and then the other hand, and continuing this pattern up and down.] 1,2, 3, 4, 5.

Author: Okay. Cool. And if it was just two people, this…

Informant: Yeah.

Author: Okay, gotcha. That’s really cool.

Informant: Mmhmm.

Author: For us it was like [performs separate version] so that’s like, very, very similar.

Informant: The rhythms are the same, but the words and melodies are like.

Author: Right, right.

It’s interesting to me how this clapping game is translated from group to group, as the general clapping motions stay relatively the same, while depending on the group, the melody or rhythm will change. I am not sure what this says about each group, but it is interesting that the motions stay consistent, while the song almost always changes fairly significantly.