Tag Archives: handkerchief

Handkerchief Game

Everyone, children for this game, sits within a circle, someone goes around holding a handkerchief and everyone chants,
丢,丢,丢手绢. 小小的朋友请你不要打电话快点快点抓住他

Diū, diū, diū shǒujuàn. Xiǎo xiǎo de péngyǒu qǐng nǐ bùyào dǎ diànhuà kuài diǎn kuài diǎn zhuā zhù tā

“Throw throw throw the handkerchief. Little little friends, please can you not call the phone, hurry hurry catch him”

After this, the person outside changes with the person who they were at when the song ended and the new person is handed the handkerchief and the cycle begins anew.

S is an older Chinese immigrant who migrated to the US over 20 years ago. He still has very close contact with relatives in China and regularly participates in Chinese cultural practices.

Context: I interviewed S about Chinese cultural customs and beliefs. This is a children’s game. As such, is typically played by children.

This is a children’s game. Similar children’s games are played in the US as well. Duck duck goose is a very similar concept where children are in a circle and one person must choose who in the circle must get out. The main difference is the power to choose is held within the chooser in duck duck goose while the power is held within the song, making it equal. This is interesting to me because S was born after the Chinese Communist Party rose to power in China. This was during the Cultural Revolution, so many themes of equality were present throughout society. This more equal power sharing could be a result of the Communist Revolution.

A Handkerchief in Time

Kropp was a secret geek in high school. He thoroughly enjoyed sports, rap, and women but had a soft spot for cartoons. He says he would secretly want to be a superhero if he had the chance – “a dope superhero” at that. He is currently a USC student studying environmental science, is enrolled in the NROTC program and loves to skateboard. He has very close ties with his extended family. He hopes to one day commission into the navy as an officer.

Concerning his family, my friend has a large one. He has family crawling up and down the New England coast. One of our ROTC events requires us to dress up – the Ball. Both men and women put on their best outfits and dance the night away. At the event I saw that he was wearing a very old rustic handkerchief. It was a light blue with a dark silk blue border. But there were small stains and wear on the handkerchief. I asked him why he was wearing such an old dirty handkerchief.

“What…this is frikin dope. My grand-daddy gave this to me. So excuse…you!” he pointed. So I was curious and began digging. There is quite a story to this. His grandfather was in the Italian Army just after World War II came to an end. He met this beautiful Italian woman at a pier on one of his weekends on leave (break from military training). They talked for hours and hours. And of course, fell in love. After dating for a while, she had decided that she needed to move to America, that Europe was no longer somewhere she could withstand being. It was time she went to the free country. As he dropped her off to say good bye at the station, she gave him her handkerchief and said that if he was ever in America, to come find her. After the War ended he joined her in America and they had three-children, one of which is Kropps mother. Kropp heard this story from his grandfather. When he was growing up he would ask him to tell it over and over again. His grandfather would pull out his pipe and his old military uniform and retell the story – changing one small thing everytime.

“I’m giving this to my son one day…yah know, if I have kids or some sh**” Kropp said at the ball.

Analysis: Not only is this a beautiful story, with great depth and character, but it has moved someone two generations out of its relevance. Kropp took the real happenings of a couple and decided that it was something worth looking forward too. And now he values this timeless item. Maybe one day, he’ll have a story to add to the handkerchief.