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Thursday, October 27, 2022




I stumbled across this old post from 2014, brought back memories from lots of folks back then.

A lot of my readers seem to like nostalgia posts.  Well, that is not exactly true, but the ones who do like them always leave fun comments on stuff from their childhood, and I enjoy reading those comments.  I was thinking back to stuff we did “In the day” and I recalled Flashlight Tag.

Flashlight Tag was not really tag; it was part tag and mostly hide-n-seek.  I think we only played it at around age 11 or 12, the year when parents gave us a little slack at night, and before girls started affecting strange emotions.


It was generally played with a fairly large group of kids, one with a flashlight, and six or eight hiding.  Everyone wore dark clothes, so hiding in the dark was pretty easy.  I think that is what made the game fun, hiding basically in the open and often only yards away from the flashlight seeker.


I think there was a home base involved, and counting and hiding.   If you were caught in the light and identified, you were it and the hiding started over again.   If you made it to home base you were safe, but I don’t remember if there was an “Alli-alli-in-free” save as in regular hide and seek..

(Also Olly Olly Oxen Free)* 


The funny thing about kids and games is years later when my own were around eleven or twelve I was asked if it was alright for them to play out after dark.   I asked what were they going to do outside at night and was told, “Flashlight Tag!”


Same name, same game, same rules.  I never told them of this game. I never mentioned rules or anything.  How was it still called the same thing.  It wasn’t called “Midnight Tag,” it wasn’t called “Night time hide-n-seek,” it wasn’t called “Dodge the Flashlight.”  It was still called “Flashlight Tag.” 


Was this game carried on from 12-year-old to 11-year-old, year after year for 30 years, or are 12-year-olds so similar that they naturally invent the same game and call it the same name?


Whatever, this game is probably not played today.  Apparently, it is not safe for 12-year-olds to be out at night, and electronic toys have probably made our old games obsolete.


Computers and modern electronics are really cool.


So was Flashlight Tag.  


*The origin of the phrase is unknown. The Dictionary of American Regional English says the phrase may be derived from all ye, all ye outs in freeall the outs in free, or possibly ”calling all the outs in free”; in other words, all who are out may come in without penalty.[2] Others speculate the phrase may be a corruption of a hypothetical and ungrammatical German phrase alle, alle, auch sind frei (all, all, also are free).[1]


  1. We didn't play flashlight tag though it sounds fun. Kick the can was our after dinner game of choice. Sadly think you are right about where kids are today when it gets dark. Some don't even go out in the day time but they have strong wrists and thumbs from playing video games.
    "Olly Olly Oxen Free" really brought back memories. How interesting we never questioned that totally odd term. It was just the key that ended that game and all could come in free.

  2. I always wondered what “olly olly oxen free” meant. Sounds German so I’m with the 2nd definition.

    I don’t recall playing flashlight tag. We played hide and seek a lot and it always resulted with the youngest in the group crying.

    Sometimes I miss the carefree days of childhood. Now days, kids are too stressed out from all the adult fears, to have any fun. Sad times for the young generation. 😢

    1. You're right, the youngest always did end up crying...I forgot about that. Funny observation.

  3. My kids called it "ghost in the graveyard," quite apropos for this time of year.

  4. I don't remember what we called it, maybe just hide and seek still, but with torches. I remember olly olly oxen free. It's a shame kids these days are inside with screens and I wonder how many of them actually can't make real friends and hold conversations because they never have. Even in schools, everyone has their phone during lunch and recess.

  5. My neighborhood did not play flashlight tag. Only Kick the Can, but it was always done at night. We had to come home at 9:00, to wash our bare feet and go to bed. Watching the audience questions on The Carol Burnett Show was allowed first.

    A daylight game was Annie Annie Over, two teams tossing a ball over a house roof, and running around the house to keep from being hit with a caught ball. We only played it with cousins at my grandma's house in the country.

  6. We had statue maker, ghosts in the graveyard, and a few with names that now would be considered politically incorrect. One involved everyone jumping on top of everyone else and tickling the group until somebody peed their pants...or cried..usually the youngest on the bottom. Seeing it written down here it sounds pretty bad actually. At the time it seemed fun!