Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pulling the Goose

The old Dutch pioneers who settled our village would have been delighted with an icy, snowy holiday season. Avid skaters as they were, they could be found on the lower, wider part of Second River skating figures, speed skating, playing colf on skates or just pushing Grandma along the icy way in one of those popular, highly decorated boat-like push-sleds. There would be booths set up with wooden benches and tables where a sort of eggnog made from brandy, egg yolks, sugar and cream was served or, another popular beverage made with steaming warm milk, aniseed and maple syrup.

Another amusement, but not for the faint-of-heart, was the racing of horse and sleighs along what would one day be Washington Avenue. There have been rumors that wagers were placed on these races although no confirming evidence can be found, possibly because horse racing was banned in most of the Dutch colonies, not that that ever stopped anyone. And then there was a game called "Pulling the Goose". Pulling the Goose was a year-round game, played on the river in boats in Summer and on skates in Winter. Here is an excerpt from our book "A Dutch Christmas in Old Second River 1697", that describes the game -

"A popular pastime, though outlawed in New Amsterdam and either forbidden or frowned upon elsewhere in the colonies, but practiced everywhere, was called ‘pulling the goose’. An unfortunate bird would have it’s head heavily greased and be hung by it’s feet across the stream or, any available icy lane would do. Skaters would rush past, grabbing at the greasy head. The winner was he who could pull the goose free. His prize was generally the goose. Those who failed would often find themselves in a most uncomplimentary posture on the ice and be subjected to the laughter of the others."

In this old engraving, we see a summertime version of the game called “Pulling the Goose”
Here at The Village of Second River Blog, we wish for all of our readers a spectacular holiday season filled with everything that delights you. And, may the coming year be the best you have ever had.

Try out the new feature we have added to the Blog. Over in the right side frame is a "Word of the Day in Italian" where you can learn the language a word or phrase at a time, just in case you are planning a trip to Rome. There is a full sized graphic version of it on our website at the bottom of the Home page. There, you can click on the large speaker icon and the word will be pronounced correctly. Click on the small speaker icon and the sample sentence using the word will be spoken. This is an experimental feature, let us know if you like it and we will keep it. Don't forget our new eMail address for the Blog is .