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Black Tom

Two parallel lines are drawn on the ground with a space of from thirty to fifty feet between them. All of the players except one stand beyond one of these lines. In the middle territory between the lines the one player who is chosen to be It takes his place, and cries “Black Tom! Black Tom! Black Tom!” repeating the words three times as here given; whereupon the other players must all rush across to the opposite line, being chased by the center player, who catches any that he may. Any one so caught joins him thereafter in chasing the others.

The particular characteristic of this game lies in the fact that the center player, instead of saying “Black Tom,” may trick or tantalize the runners by crying out “Yellow Tom,” or “Blue Tom,” or “Red Tom,” or anything else that he chooses. Any player who starts to run upon such a false alarm is considered captive and must join the players in the center. This is also true for any player who starts before the third repetition of “Black Tom.”

Another way of giving a false alarm is for any one of the center players except the original It to give the signal for running. Any runner starting in response to such a signal from any of the chasers, except the original It, thereby becomes captive and must join the players in the center.

The first one to be caught is center player, or It, for the next game.

The game as here given is played in Brooklyn, N.Y. The same game is played in the South under the title of “Ham, ham, chicken, ham, bacon!” the word “bacon” being the signal for the run, any player starting without hearing it having to join the center players.
Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie Hubbell Bancroft

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