There are segments of sociology, observed possibly best on Cape Breton Island, that need to be recorded if no longer studied. The game of “Lee Hawkers” is this type of section; a not unusual summertime night cry of “1-2-3 Lee Hawkers” heard from the woods surrounding the New Waterford neighborhood of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This recreation of modified cover-and-are seeking regarding groups become a part of teen years in the mid-Nineteen Sixties. Lee Hawkers was an innovative conceal-and-searching for recreation played in the unique suburban place of New Waterford referred to as River Ryan/Scotchtown.
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The River Ryan/Scotchtown region was, and nonetheless is today, a residential network. Unlike these days lower back then the neighborhoods have been greater extensively interlaced with forests and fields. Throughout the 1960s, summer season days might see teenaged boys playing baseball, pitching horseshoes, building forts inside the woods, shooting exercise rounds with BB weapons, or biking out of the city to Kilkenny Lake for a swim. But what might those commonly testosterone-driven males do for night time-time amusing? What mischief could they locate cloaked inside the darkness of sultry summer season nights?
The mischief arose while the child’s game of Hide-and-Seek morphed right into a greater adult oriented recreation regarding teams, a ‘jail’ and few, however particular, regulations of engagement around being captured and being freed from prison. The best recollection is this after darkish sport changed into in the beginning a male handiest sport. Two teams of male teenagers would take turns being the captured (Hiders) or the captors (Seekers). To start, in a clearing, a field or in someone’s dust driveway, the use of a tree branch or the heel of a participant’s boot or sneaker, a huge circle (6-8 ft in diameter) would be roughly marked inside the sun-baked floor. This might emerge as the jail into which the captured Hiders might be thrown by way of the Seekers.
To seize or catch a hiding member of the opposing team, the Seekers could start their hunt inside the dark wooded regions for any Hiders. It’s dark. It’s the wooded area. Seekers may want to bounce out at a Hider… So usually the hunt become executed in pairs of Seekers. But why the call Lee Hawkers? Read on… As soon as a Hider changed into isolated, in line with the unique guidelines of are seeking for and capture, a Seeker might be required to spit (yes a hawker!) on the Hider, pound them on the again whilst yelling “1-2-three Lee Hawkers”. This marked the Hider as a “seize” or “captured”. The Seekers might lead the captured Hider back to jail (the circle) for secure keeping. The “Lee” (short for leeward) in “Lee Hawkers” become an obvious warning that you must spit, or hawk, inside the direction of the wind to avoid getting hit with your very own spit (ugh!). And so this spitting, or hawking – the “1-2-3 Lee Hawkers” seize sequence – would be repeated until all of the Hiders had been stuck and in jail. Once all of the Hiders were captured, the groups might switch roles – Seekers could grow to be Hiders and Hiders would grow to be Seekers. Hide. Catch. Jail. Switch. Were that the game changed into so simplistic. The recreation became an extra complex and an entire lot more dynamic because jailed Hiders will be free of “prison”. Say what!
The jail was guarded via a couple Seekers. These Guard Seekers remained on high alert to save you Hider teammates from releasing their jailed friends. If an uncaptured Hider ran through the jail then all jailed Hiders had been now technically freed from prison, free to run back into the wooded area and disguise all over again. How ought to the Seekers prevent these repeated breakouts?
The trick changed into to catch those rogue Hider breakout experts before they ran through the jail. By the usage of the equal size 1-2-3 series (hawking, back pounding, yelling “1-2-three Lee Hawkers”) it’d not only stop a breakout strive but additionally bring about a sparkling Hider seize. “Off to jail with ya!” At this factor in the evolution of Lee Hawkers you’ve got a youngster male-dominated, hawkin’ ‘n hittin’, after dark, conceal ‘n seek recreation. A bit messy, rather primitive, but notably harmless.
Enter the youngster women. They want to play. Co-ed Lee Hawkers. This had new possibilities, new promise. Hmmm, a notion. An idea that met an age-vintage purpose – have a few a laugh at the same time as you find a mate. Just like the Stag Line (see the Ezine article: “The “Stag Line” – A Cape Breton Dance Hall Etiquette (Part of Cape Breton Social Heritage)”), Lee Hawkers seems to have developed from an excuse for a dating game wrapped in the guise of crew sports activities. Or become Lee Hawkers a primitive form of the game now known as Paint Ball? Could Paint Ball splats of coloration have replaced the spit, or hawker, within the culturally ancient Cape Breton recreation of Lee Hawkers? Or turned into this sport referred to as Lee Hawkers clearly a ruse with the aid of teenage boys to play with the girls? Surely those are questions requiring similarly dialogue.
The ladies were in the game. But first the spitin’ and hawkin’ needed to cross! And so it did. Lee Hawkers have become an extra gentile recreation for the mixed sexes. Catching a Hider now involved only “rapping” (gently pounding) a female Hider at the lower back at the same time as yelling “1-2-3 Lee Hawkers”. Since the brand new guidelines eliminated hawking, Hiders to be captured would no longer run to keep away from the ‘Guber’. Instead, Hiders could resist capture by the Seeker with the aid of lying on their again to prevent from being rapped. Based on the size/energy ratio of Seeker-to-Hider, the try(s) to turn and “returned rap” could come to be pretty an extended tussle. Sometimes it might require the efforts of two or extra Seekers to flip and rap a capability captured Hider.
Now let your imaginations fill inside the blanks here. Imagine what took place whilst the Hider changed into a lady, the Seeker became a male. Hider – female. Seeker – male. Tussle. If the Seeker turned into a male, and he observed a lady Hider, he would in no way call for help from his Seeker teammates. This is the part where subtle changes in the ‘unwritten’ guidelines came into effect whilst the ladies joined the game. The attempt became usually one-of-a-kind in those woman-to-male capture encounters. There turned into an unstated adjustment in the game policies and a somewhat neutralizing of male brute force. The male Seeker might tussle lightly with the woman Hider till she will be flipped or rolled off her again, and the male seekers became able to faucet her back blended with the cry “1-2-three Lee Hawkers”. It was extremely good the duration of time it took for one sturdy teenager male to carry out a simple forty-five to 90-degree roll of a lady to advantage get entry to her lower back. It needs to that unexplainable physics of women!
Like the game of Lee Hawkers so is going courting, and so is going, love. The brute strength in hormone-pushed games is neutralized. It will become gentler. It emotes the chemistry of sexual appeal. And so is going lifestyles.
Lee Hawkers turned into one of these Sixties Cape Breton (or at the least a Scotchtown – River Ryan) phenomena that, possibly just like the Stag Line, turned into a relationship sports ritual wrapped in the guise of crew sports. Or maybe it changed into the precursor to modern-day Paint Ball. Whatever it became, it sure became memorable!