This is a call and response game. Here's how you start: The first player holds out the fist with the thumb up and the 2nd player says…


At the end, the players have to keep a straight face for as long a time as possible. The game ends when some one finally breaks into a laugh and receives a hard smack from the first player, or ten pinches, or both, according to the formula used in the game.

Alternate Ending:

After: Question: "Where's the rope?"...
Answer: Knife cut it.
Question: Where's the knife?
Answer: Hammer broke it.
Question: Where's the hammer?
Answer: Behind the door cracking nuts.

Same as above at the end. Each player tries to keep a serious face. Whoever smiles first gets kissed or slapped!

Charles W. Stotler wrote:

The version in my family was slightly different and it went like this:

Q: Whose little round hole is this?
A: Mine.
Q: Whatcha got in it?
A: Bread and butter and cheese.
Q: Where's my share?
A: The cat got it.
Q: Where's the cat?
A: In the cupboard.
Q: Where's the cupboard?
A: The fire burned it.
Q: Where's the fire?
A: The water quenched it.
Q: Where's the water?
A: The ox drank it.
Q: Where's the ox?
A: The butcher killed it.
Q:Where's the butcher?
A: The rope hanged him.
Q: Where's the rope?
A: The knife cut it.
Q: Where's the knife?
A: The hammer broke it.
Q: Where's the hammer?
A: Behind there cellar door cracking nuts!

Then, in unison: A is for Apple, P is for Pear, the first one who speaks gets boxed on the ears.

Usually the sudden silence would provoke a bark from our dog…….

Rena Pollock wrote, "Wow, I am amazed to find this game mentioned on the web at last! It's one of the obscure folk pieces I remember growing up in a family who settled in Oklahoma after coming from Appalachia, and before that Wales. My great-grandmother Pearl taught it to her kids and they passed it down. The version on your site is what I remember, but with a great deal of spookiness and a variation on the ending.

Where's the cat?
Dead and buried behind the old church door. If anyone laughs, or smiles, or shows their teeth ... they get a little wooden box with ten nails in it.

(At first I thought our version was much tamer than getting slapped or pinched, but then I realized that we might have been talking about a coffin!)

Thanks for the memories :)

Trisha wrote:

"Hello! I happened to do a search for this game because my dad taught it to me as a kid and I was wondering where it came from. The version in my family was called 'Top Knot' and it went like this:

To Play: The first person makes a fist with their thumb sticking up. The second person makes a fist on top of the first person's by connecting to the first person's thumb that was sticking up (to start making a tower). Then the first person takes their other hand and makes a fist connecting it to the second person's thumb and the second person puts their last fist on the top of the tower. So the four fists are connected in one tower and the person with the fist on top is the "top knot". Then the person underneath the "Top Knot" starts the question and answer part of the game...

1: What's that?
2: Top knot.
1: Get it off or I'll knock it off.

Person 2 either removes fist or Person 1 knocks it off. Then, when only one fist remains, they tuck their thumb inside their fist (as if they have something inside it) and the question/answer starts as follows:

1. What's in there?
2. Butter and cheese.
1. Where's my share?
2. The cat took it.
1. Where's the cat?
2. Dog chased it.
1. Where's the dog?
2. Wolf tore him up.
1. Where's the wolf?
2. In the woods.
1. Where's the woods?
2. Fire burned it.
1. Where's the fire?
2. Water quenched it.
1. Where's the water?
2. Ox drank it.
1. Where's the ox?
2. Butcher killed it.
1. Where's the butcher?
2. Rope hung him.
1. Where's the rope?
2. Knife cut it.
1. Where's the knife?
2. Hammer broke it.
1. Where's the hammer?
2. Down behind the mill door cracking walnuts.

Whoever speaks first gets their nose pulled.

My dad's family is of Scottish heritage and lived in the Indiana, PA area for many generations before moving to Youngstown, OH in the 1950's or thereabouts.

Thank you for putting this out there! I always wondered if anyone else had ever heard of this game or if it was just my family!"

Trisha (Cameron) Kusiowski

Ron & Marji wrote:

"The version I learned from my aunt who grew up in the sandhills of Nebraska goes much the same as the question/answer portion until you get to the end with the hammer.

Question: "Where's the hammer?"
Answer: "Behind the door cracking nuts. I get the meat and you get the shucks. The first person to speak out loud gets a box with 5 red nails."

Nobody wanted the box as that was a euphemism for being slapped. The 5 red nails were fingernails. The slapping was never done, just threatened though.

-Ron & Marji Illingworth"


There are variations of this game, please email me to share your version.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Charles Stotler for sharing his family's version! Thanks to Rena Pollock for sharing her version! Thanks to Ron & Marji Illingworth for sharing a version from Nebraska.