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lots and lots of research materials

American Murder Ballads and Their Stories, by Olive (Olive?! All this time I assumed the author was a man!) Woolley Burt. (c) 1958, Oxford Univ. Press.

Just fascinating, and I'm only dipping in. It has Omie Wise in the first chapter.

A Treasury of New England Folklore: Stories, Ballads, and Traditions of Yankee Folk, ed. B. A. Botkin (c) 1947

Dense w/stuff. Tis LONG. How about this rhyme, apparently from Westport, Massachusetts

A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly

It also has counting-out songs and jump rope songs, which I love, like:

Last night and the night before
Twenty-four robbers came to my door.
When I went down to let them in,
They knocked me down with the rolling pin.
Ten ran east and ten rand west
And four jumped over the cuckoo's nest.

Folklore in the English & Scottish Ballads, by Lowry Charles Wimberly, a 1965 Dover reprint of a University of Chicago publication from 1928. ... YUMMY!

Women in the Medieval English Countryside: Gender and Household in Brigstock Before the Plague, by Judith M. Bennett (c) 1987, Oxford Univ. Press

Medieval Households, by David Herlihy (c) 1985, Harvard Univ. Press

Does anyone remember any jump rope songs or clapping songs from their own childhood? I remember these:

Cinderella, dressed in yella,
Went downstairs to kiss her fella,
By mistake her girdle busted
How many people were disgusted?
<--at this point you're doing the jumprope super fast

Or its variant

Cinderella, dressed in yella
Went downstairs to kiss her fella
By mistake she kissed a snake
How many doctors did it take?
ONE, TWO (etc.)


( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
Take a look at http://mudcat.org.
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
Marvelous! I don't think I've ever been to the homepage before, but I know I've turned up sub-pages in searches sometimes; I think most recently when I was looking for information about "Sovay Sovay"

Jun. 13th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Does anyone remember any jump rope songs or clapping songs from their own childhood?

I discovered in May that the catalogue of playground songs I started keeping in elementary school—I don't know how far back it goes, but the file was last updated in 1993—still exists on my computer. Skipping songs, clapping songs, lullabies, insults, a fight song for a college I never attended, parodies, popular songs, the rhyme for counting crows; some annotated, some I have no idea where they came from. I'll gladly post a couple if you're interested.

Miss Mary Mack all dressed in black
With silver buttons all down her back:
She cannot read, she cannot write,
But she can smoke her father's pipe.
She asked her mother for fifty cents
To see the elephant jump over the fence.
He jumped so high, he reached the sky,
And didn't come back till the Fourth of July.
She asked her mother for fifty more
To see the elephant jump over the door.
He jumped so low, he stubbed his toe,
And that was the end of the elephant show.
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, do! How great that you kept it.

We had Mary Mack too, but minus the part about reading and writing. Did you have the Miss Lucy and the Steamboat one? (hand clapping song)

Miss Lucy had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell
Miss Lucy went to heaven and the steamboat went to
Hello operator, get me number 9; if you disconnect me, I'll kick your fat
Behind the frigerator, there was a piece of glass,
Miss Lucy sat upon it and she cut her little
Ask me no more questions
Tell me no more lies,
The boys are in the girls' room, zipping down their
Flies are in the country
Bees are in the park
The boys and girls are kissing in the
D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, dark!

I know my kids had an extended version of that; I should get them to tell me the additional lyrics.

Do you know the Opie's book of nursery rhymes? That collected bunches.

Anyway, yes, please, more!
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
I know my kids had an extended version of that; I should get them to tell me the additional lyrics.

We learned—

Miss Lucy had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell;
Miss Lucy went to heaven and the steamboat went to
Hello operator, please give me Number Nine
And if you disconnect me I will chop off your
Behind the 'frigerator, there was a piece of glass,
Miss Lucy slipped upon it and she broke her little
Ask me no more questions, tell me no more lies,
The boys are in the girls' room, zipping up their
Flies are in a meadow, bees are in the park,
Miss Lucy and her boyfriend were kissing in the D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K,
Dark is like a movie, movie's like a show,
Ask me no more questions 'cause I've told you all I know
I know my ma, I know I know my pa,
I know I know my sister with the eighteen-acre bra!

(Line breaks and punctuation as they appear in the file; I figure after fifteen years, it would be a little silly to rearrange them.)
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
That was it! Yeah, the part about "dark is like a movie," etc., we didn't have. That's an innovation that dates from at least your time and has been preserved in my kids' time :D

The eighteen-acre bra is a great touch :-P
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
I remember something similar to this, but there was no Miss Lucy, or a steamboat with a bell. I want to say it was two people, but I do remember from the second line:

one went to heaven, the other went to
hello, operator, give me number nine,
and if you don't connect me, I'll kick your fat
behind the 'frigerator, there was a piece of glass,
and when I sat upon it, I cut my little
ask me no more questions,
I'll tell you no more lies,
the boys are in the bathroom, zipping up their
flies are in the country,
bees are in the park,
your sister and her boyfriend were kissing in the
D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K (and this part would continue, the clapping getting faster and faster, until somebody messed up)
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
w00t variations! I love this :-D
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:00 pm (UTC)
We always did it as Miss Suzie.


Miss Suzie had a steamboat,
the steamboat had a bell *toot toot*
Miss Suzie went to heaven and the steamboat went to
Hello operator, please give me number nine,
and if you disconnect me I will chop off your
behind the fridgerator, there was a piece of glass
Miss Suzie sat upon it and it went right up her
Ask me no more questions,
Tell me no more lies.
The boys are in the bathroom,
Zipping up their
Flies are in the meadow
The Bees are in the Park.
Miss Suzie and her boyfriend
Are kissing in the D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, dark dark dark.

There were a couple other extensions to the ending that I don't remember very well.
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Two of the more popular clapping songs when I was growing up (late '70s, early '80s) were "Miss Mary Mack" and this little gem:

My name is Ell-eye, Ell-eye
Jiko-lie, Jiko-lie
Pom Pom Beauty.
Don't drink whiskey.
Can't stand boys,
with a few exceptions--
Japanese, Chinese,
Indian Chief!
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's one I hadn't heard! Great!

Did you have this counting out song:

Engine engine number 9, going down Kentucky line
If the train goes off the track, do you want your money back?
Y-E-S spells yes [or N-O spells no] and my mother says
you are not it.
(repeat until done)

Jun. 13th, 2008 05:55 pm (UTC)
I remember the second line, but the rest doesn't sound familiar. Also, our version of "Cinderella" went like so:

Cinderella, dressed in yella
went downstairs to kiss her fella.
Made a mistake and kissed a snake,
how many doctors did it take?
ONE, TWO (etc.)
Jun. 13th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
Your version is what we had too--I was mistaken. Yours makes more sense, too (wonder why I was thinking of stitches?) I'm going to fix my entry.
Jun. 13th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
We had the Cinderella one with the snake.

I dont recall counting songs as much, though we did count!
Jun. 13th, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
I'd love to find some variants that were demonstrably newer--ones that, say, made reference to something like the space shuttle or something...or, on the other hand, it would be fun to see how many ones that we have now are really unchanged from quite a long time ago.

"Silver buttons all down her back," for instance, could be really old. If something has trains in it, obviously it has to come from a time with trains. The one we were talking about that has a refrigerator in it obviously has to date from after refrigerators were common, and so on.
Jun. 13th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, oh! I jumped rope to a version of the robbers. But all I can remember is

Late last night and the night before
Twenty-four robbers came a-knockin' at my door.

I don't know any clapping songs and don't remember ever playing a clapping game with a song. Maybe not common in the Pacific Northwest? But jump rope rhymes, yes yes yes.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
I like the rhythm of your version :-)

Jun. 13th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
Hmm.... I remember lots actually.

Choosing songs:

Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish.
How many pieces do you wish?
*person chooses a number*
One, two... etc.

One potato, two potato,
Three potato, four.
Five potato, six potato, seven potato more.

And with that one you hit fists... If yours was the last, your fist split into two potatoes that would then be eliminated if hit again.

Eenie, Meanie, Mineie, Moe.
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers let him go.
My mother told me to pick this one right over here.

With variations to the last line to help you pick the one you wanted.

Hmm... I think I'll probably put jump rope songs and hand songs in seperate entries.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
We had those ones too, when I was little. I'm trying to remember the one my kids used to do in England... if it comes to me, I'll add it.
Jun. 14th, 2008 01:38 am (UTC)
The kids at my camp last summer used to do another that I can only remember snippets of:

Tarzan, monkey man,
swinging from a rubber band,
fell *forgets the words*
What color was his blood?
*spell out the color*
Jul. 29th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
Tarzan Song
In My Camp The Kids Taught Me This Song.

Tarzan Monkey Man
Swinging From A Rubber Band
Fell Down Bust His Head
What Color Was His Blood When He Woke Up
In The Middle Of The Night Time?
(Choose Color And Spell It Out)
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
Jump rope songs:

I learned these almost entirely from my mother, so they're from the north shore area of Massachusetts, circa 1960s.

When I grow up I'm going to marry
Tinker, Tailor, Cowboy, Sailor,
Rich man, Poor man, Beggar Man, Thief!
Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief! *repeats jobs as needed*

That one as my favorite.

Strawberry Shortcake,
Cream on top,
How many boyfriends have you got?
One, Two.... etc.

We also did something called the ten steps of jump rope:
One was Under the moon (run under a moving jump rope)
Two was Over the moon (run in, jump over, run out)
Three was Run in, jump three times, run out.
Four is:
Bluebells, cockleshells,
Eve-y, Ivy, Over

(The tune to this one is universal baby chant, aka sol, mi, sol, mi, sol sol mi la, sol, mi, and is done by swaying the rope back and forth while the person in the middle jumped back and forth, with the rope actually going over your head on the word over. You then jump four times and jump out.)
Five is Pepper (really fast turning rope).
After six it started to get confusing because pepper's such a hard one to do... The mother says "six was hop on one foot six times".
We don't remember seven, eight, nine, and ten. I think we used to do seven was turn around, eight touch the ground, etc. etc. The trick was to make them harder, and you had to run in, do the trick the correct number of times, and then run out.

Teddy Bear was another good one too.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)
Your mom is probably about 10 years older than I am :-)

I remember the teddy bear one:

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground
Teddy bear, teddy bear, climb up the stairs
Teddy bear, teddy bear, say your prayers

I forget what came after that. That one's in the New England book, but instead of "teddy bear," it has "butterfly"--same syllables and emphasis, but different word.

I remember the bluebells one too :-)

Jun. 14th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
The version I learned was

Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around
Teddy bear, teddy bear, touch the ground
Teddy bear, teddy bear, tie your shoe
Teddy bear, teddy bear, that will do.

Teddy bear, teddy bear, go upstairs
Teddy bear, teddy bear, say your prayers
Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn out the light
Teddy bear, teddy bear, say good night.

I'm guessing that the newer version probably came out around the 1900s, when the teddy bear was invented. There are a lot of songs that use a similar rhythm and melody... Three note songs are the basics of learning how to rote sing. :)
Jun. 14th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
I was thinking the same thing about the teddy bear. What do you mean by three-not songs?** I confess for this teddy bear one, we chanted it rather than sang it?

**Is it like "Hot Cross Buns"?
Jun. 14th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
Hmm... If you're at all familiar with solfege, the tune to Teddy Bear is "Sol sol mi, sol sol mi, sol la sol mi. Fa fa re, fa fa re, fa sol fa re, sol sol mi, sol sol mi, sol la sol mi, fa fa re, fa fa re, sol mi do." Sol la and mi are the three easiest pitches for young children to differentiate (also known as universal baby chant; think "nyah nyah...") so a lot of really early songs that children learn are based around those pitches. Of course, because I'm talking about it, I'm having a brain fart about other ones, but there are reams and reams of them. Slightly more complex songs add do, then re (creating pentatonic songs), then fa and ti. Hot cross buns would be a good example of a simple song in this style, although it's more pentatonic than anything else (mi re do instead of sol la mi with an ending on do).

Generally, if you're coming up with a melody for a chant, it'll tend to sound similar to universal baby chant, or pentatonic scales, with occasional passing tones to smooth out the melody. Easy to improvise on, and easy to harmonize, at least for our western trained ears.
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)
I remember that one, too!
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
Hand games:

I went to a Chinese restaurant to buy a loaf of bread, bread, bread.
The waiter brought it up to me, and this is what he said said said:
My name is P, I, piccolo,
Piccolo P I.
Had a baby named him Davy.
Sitting the backseat drinking Gravy.
Shave and a hair cut... Chow Mein!

Almost positive I have some of those words wrong, but there were lots of variations to that one.

Double double this this.
Double double that that.
Double this, Double that.
Double double this, that.

Where double= hitting the edge of both fists together
this =clapping hands together
that =clapping the backs of hands together

Down by the banks of the hanky panky
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky.
With a hip hop.
With a ding ding diddle and a little ding dow.

Next one's an actual song to the tune of Allouette:
Aggravation, Rehabilitation.
Aggravation. This is how it goes.

First you take a garden hose,
Then you stick in up your nose.
Turn it on,
Have some fun


Next you take a bowling ball,
Then you roll it down the hall.
Into dad, Make him mad.


(One last verse about putting a bag around your head, now you're dead.... I don't remember)


That one had surprisingly complex hand movements to it too.

Couple of others that I only half remember.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
Those hand ones are excellent! I didn't know any of those!

The only one I really remember other than the Mary Mack ones is

Say say oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Slide down my rainbow
[but we often said "rain barrel," which doesn't make sense]
Into my cellar door
And we'll be jolly friends
For evermore, one, two, three four

Edited at 2008-06-13 11:05 pm (UTC)
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
We used to do an "evil" variation.

See See my enemy,
Come out and fight with me
And bring knives three
Climb up my poison tree
Slide down my razor blade
Into my dungeon door
Where we'll be jolly enemies
For evermore, more more.
One, Two, Three, Four four four.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
We had an evil version too; I wonder if I can remember it:

Say say oh enemy
Come out and fight with me
And bring your bb gun
And we will have some fun

....but I don't remember what comes next.

I think there was something about "bleed to death"

We had lots of evil versions of patriotic songs too, like "God bless my underwear" instead of "God bless America.
Jun. 14th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC)
Hee! I sing that one in my head every time we play that song in band.... It's so overdone in my opinion.

The boy scouts in particular seem to be fiendishly talented at coming up with gross/lewd/violent parodies of songs. My father, an eagle scout, used to sing them to my brother and me when we were kids. The girl scouts didn't seem to be quite as into them unfortunately.
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
Finally, a circle game that pretty much all the Girl Scouts in Connecticut Trails council (at least that I've met) have learned is "I'm going to Kentucky." I've heard several different variations, but the one that my service unit (town) always did went like this:

We're going to Kentucky.
We're going to the fair
To see the senoritas
With flowers in their hair.

Oh shake it baby, shake it.
Shake it if you can.
Shake it like a milkshake,
And drink it if you can.

Oh rumble to the bottom.
Rumble to the top.
And turn around and turn around
Until we make you stop.
S-T-O-P spells stop!

Played with girls holding hands in the circle, one girl in the middle. First verse the circle turns clockwise. Second verse circle stops and girl acts out the described actions. At turn around and turn around the middle girl closes eyes and points a finger until she stops, at which point the girl pointed at goes into the middle. We used to do giant games of this on the playground with at least 20 or 30 girls.... Boys almost never joined in. It seemed to spread, like I said, through the Girl Scouts.
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
I think Girl Scouts has done a lot to preserve old children's songs and games. teenybuffalo was telling me some that she had learned in Girl Scouts too.
Jun. 14th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
Girl scouts and summer camps are the two spots where I really got into learning folk/silly songs for the sake and fun of them. It's actually where I learned so many hand games, as well as tons of camp songs (many of them actually folk children's songs in disguise). Probably one of the biggest reasons why I got into singing from such an early age; I ate all those songs up as fast as I heard them, and with enough jogging of my memory, I can probably sing most of them almost verbatim to how I heard them as a kid. Although I notice that I'm having a harder time recalling all of them than I used to unfortunately.... I think after this summer I definitely want to find a traditional camp to work at instead of the one I do now. The kids there don't seem to appreciate my singing to them, to their detriment I feel.
Jun. 14th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
Definitely go to a camp where they're interested in learning those tunes!

I learned a bunch from my mother and a bunch from records we had: We had a Smithsonian lullabye album put together by Pete Seeger; it had traditional lullabies mainly from English-speaking areas, but a couple in other languages too (one in an East Indian language and one in Hebrew, as I recall). Then another was the children's record I mentioned in the post about the Warner collection, Sam Hinton's "Whoever Shall Have Some Good Peanuts." I learned a lot that way.

When I had my first kid, my sister-in-law sent me a cassette tape of traditional English children's songs, and in Japan I learned some of those, too--again, from cassette tapes or "minna no uta" ("everybody's songs") on TV rather than from actual people.

Learning them from live people is best, though--it's great that you learned them that way and are passing them on, too.
Jun. 14th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
Yeah... I lucked out, in that the camps that I went to and staffed at prior to this one all have active traditions of singing camp songs either at campfires or during daily large group sessions. It's one of the few places I can think of where this actually happened, and I'm pretty sure that there are camps with even better traditions than that.

One of the things that amazed and somewhat bothered me the most about my general music class in college was how I knew a lot of the songs taught to us... But in different versions. It showed too. Where most of the other students tended to gravitate more towards the pedagogies that taught using instruments, I very much leaned towards the folk music/rote song tradition, to the extent that I try to collect old song books so that I can learn new children's songs (I haven't done this in far too long...). In fact, I should really take my first certification course in Kodaly (that tradition) if I ever get a position in elementary ed.
Jun. 14th, 2008 12:07 pm (UTC)
That brought back playground memories of many years ago! Being a kid was so much fun.
Jun. 14th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
I love how kids just pick these things up, and they transmit, generation to generation.
Jun. 14th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC)
Clapping song I remember
My name is Eli Eli!
Chicken-li chicken-li!
Pom-pom beauty!
Don't like whiskey!
Indian Chief!

I have NO idea where it comes from.

That murder ballad book sounds sooooo delicious! I wish I had a library card!
Jun. 14th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Clapping song I remember
seajules knows a version of that one too. Yeah, the murder ballad book is fun, and dated, itself, which makes reading it all the more interesting.
Jun. 15th, 2008 06:38 am (UTC)
A clapping game, although I seem to remember jumping rope to it on occasion. It's neither spoken nor sung, but something in between.

Oh, Mary Mack (Mack, Mack)
All dressed in black (black, black)
With silver buttons (buttons, buttons)
All down her back (back, back)
She asked her mother (mother, mother)
For fifteen cents (cents, cents)
To see the elephant (elephant, elephant)
Jump over the fence (fence, fence)
He jumped so high (high, high)
He reached the sky (sky, sky)
And didn't come back (back, back)
Till the Fourth of July (ly, ly).
Jun. 15th, 2008 06:41 am (UTC)
I used to have a cassette tape called Wee Sing Silly Songs...I loved that thing, and I can still remember probably 90% of the songs on that cassette.

Nobody loves me
Everybody hates me
Guess I'll go eat worms
Down goes the first one
Down goes the second one
Oh! how they wiggle and squirm
Up comes the first one
Up comes the second one
Oh! how they wiggle and squirm
Nobody loves me
Everybody hates me
Guess I'll go eat worms

Heh. Weird what the mind holds on to.
Jun. 15th, 2008 03:37 pm (UTC)
Those Wee Sing cassettes were great--we had those too (not when I was a kid, but I had them for my own kids, and refreshed my memory on lots of songs!)
Jun. 15th, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, I had fun with that one too. I think we only did it as hand clapping, though :-)
( 45 comments — Leave a comment )

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