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Rhymes with ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay.
January 13, 2010 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Playground Jungle: The "folk process" in the subversive songs, rhymes, stories and jokes you told when the teacher wasn't around. Visit the whole (growing) collection via the index of first lines.
posted by nebulawindphone (101 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her father forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her mother forty one.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:31 AM on January 13, 2010


This is awesome in at least two ways:

1) Finding out about this stuff
2) The expanding subjects on which I can become a pedant (e.g. "since we are south of the Mason-Dixon line, I actually may speak but I do owe you a coke")
posted by DU at 10:32 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, see, this is why I never bought into the whole "think of the children/children are innocent" thing -- because, seriously, I remember BEING a kid and I remember all the knock-knock jokes about guts and hineys and all that.

Kids need a mischief outlet. No, scratch that -- people need a mischief outlet. We all need to be a little naughty sometimes. Kids are no different.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on January 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


A seemingly Vermont specific second verse to "I see London, I see France, I see someone's underpants."

"Not too big, not too small, just the size of Montreal".
posted by idiopath at 10:39 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always been interested in that weird little subculture of kid knowledge. My five-year-old niece can sing "Jingle Bells, Batman smells, / Robin laid an egg," the same way I did decades ago, but surely no adult taught it to her. I like the idea that I learned it from a contemporary, and in turn passed it on to another, from one kindergartener to the next for generations.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:40 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa, I just remembered a Beatles parody my brother and his friends sang a lot --

"We all live in a yellow submarine,
A purple tangerine,
A PLAYBOY magazine...."

I haven't a clue where they got it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on January 13, 2010


This is the one I remember my friend Christian teaching me at swim practice one day.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:45 AM on January 13, 2010


I always said it as "I see London, I see France, I see so-and-so's underpants," not realizing there was a variation that went "I see London, I see France, I see the queen's underpants." So the line "I ain't never seen no queen in her danged undies" from Lebowski always bewildered me.

The odd thing is that the Coen Brother and I grew up maybe 15 blocks from each other and about a decade apart. Who knew there could be so much regional variation in such a small area?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:45 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


This runs very counter to the experience of my childhood. I have yet to see my name as the preferred punchline to any of these jokes.
posted by nickjadlowe at 10:46 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reading these and seeing how tame they are compared to what I remember is making me realize that my grade school playground was filled with dirty, dirty perverts.
posted by invitapriore at 10:47 AM on January 13, 2010


There's a place in France
where the naked ladies dance
there's a hole in the wall
where the man can see it all


I heard at least three variations of this in my school alone. The above plus:

There's a place in France where the ladies wear no pants

and

There's a place in France where [kid's name] pulls his pants
and there's a hole in the wall, so the girls can feel it all

posted by drjimmy11 at 10:48 AM on January 13, 2010


These things are like distilled alienation from my childhood.
posted by lumensimus at 10:53 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I recall:

Born on a tabletop in Tenessee
Shot his maw with a .43
Shot his paw with a .44
And now he's after his mother-in-law!
Davy, Davy Crocket, king of the wild frontier
posted by tommasz at 10:55 AM on January 13, 2010


(Also, all of these are 20 times better if you read them in the voice of Nelson Muntz or Jimbo Jones.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:55 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sadly lacking any Miss Lucy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:59 AM on January 13, 2010


Reading these and seeing how tame they are compared to what I remember

One of the research problems that plagues children's folklorists is the fact that kids are reluctant informants. Kids know that adults don't approve of most of their nastier, meaner, dirtier content, and won't share it easily - they don't want to embarass themselves or appear impolite or get in trouble. It's actually one of the hardest cultures for a scholar to penetrate; very insular, and protective of its own knowledge.


I've always been interested in that weird little subculture of kid knowledge. My five-year-old niece can sing "Jingle Bells, Batman smells, / Robin laid an egg," the same way I did decades ago, but surely no adult taught it to her.


It was an experience I had as a kid quite similar to that that actually made me interested in studying folklore. I had learned the "Miss Susie" rhyme in grade school from some friends. I brought it home and sang it for my mom - and was utterly astounded when she finished it. "How did you learn that?" I remember asking her - I thought it was something that my friends had made up - and she said "From other kids on the playground." "But who taught it to them?" I pursued. "Other kids that knew it before them, I guess," she replied. Suddenly the whole chain of informal cultural knowldedge transfer through peer groups became visible before my eyes. I've never forgotten that and still find it magical.
posted by Miko at 11:01 AM on January 13, 2010 [9 favorites]


Who knew there could be so much regional variation in such a small area?

The blog author grew up about 20 miles and less than a decade from me and I see some variation as well. Probably it isn't so much regional variation as it is pedigree. You don't have to hear something like this (especially as a kid) a lot of times before you memorize it and it's not like you'll be studying it in school over and over. You are going to learn it from That One Kid who learned it from His Brother who learned it from A Cousin and so forth. You could be neighbors but say "I see London, I see France" differently because you got it from different sources. Like an Erdos Number of playground rhyme.
posted by DU at 11:02 AM on January 13, 2010


Oddly enough this got stuck in my head while doing housework the other day.

Lots of great memories from reading these, for instance this suddenly reminded me of my neighbor getting a week's worth of detention for foolishly singing the alternate lyrics while preparing for the Christmas pageant, the cheeap thrill of finding one of these in the ancient textbooks my school forced us to put grocery bag book covers on, and our regional flavor of this involved the local legend of the Bell Witch.

Now I have a handy list of things I need to teach my nephew to continue the folk lineage (and annoy my sister).
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:05 AM on January 13, 2010


Mary had a little lamb
His fleece was black as coal
And every time he jumped the fence
You could see his little asshole.
posted by phoque at 11:10 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, wow, Light as a feather.

Heh; in college, I was involved in this weird improv/ensemble play creation class (I can't even BEGIN to explain what this class was about, it involved a lot of giving us different scenarios and enacting them out in different styles), and one of the assignments was to come up with a little scenelet that illustrated something good about Americana.

One of the groups came up with a tribute to "Slumber Parties." The scenelet couldn't have been more than about four or five minutes tops, but they did every single last one of the rituals that I'd grown up with at slumber parties myself -- Light As A Feather, truth or dare, calling up boys, synchronized dancing to the GREASE soundtrack, the whole nine yards.

But the best part was the reaction from all the other students in the room. Every single last one of the girls watching squealed in glee and recognition as they did each different thing, and we were in hysterics by the end. And all the guys were completely wide-eyed by the end of the presentation, and turned to all of us and asked, "is THAT what you guys were doing at all those slumber parties? Holy crap!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:13 AM on January 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing - look under Miss Susie.

I am so glad someone's doing this, I've wanted to for years. Very cool.
posted by magdalenstreetladies at 11:15 AM on January 13, 2010


Milk, milk, lemonade...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:16 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid the supposed height of hilarity was a joke about a kid inexplicably named Deeper, and there was a variant with a kid named Pompano. They were pretty much the same joke with slightly different details:

There was a boy named Deeper/Pompano blah blah blah. His dad was the principal of the elementary school/he had a treehouse and apparently a lot of cookies.

One day he tried to get the teacher/some girl from the neighborhood to take off her shirt. Teacher/Girl did not want to take off her shirt.

Deeper/Pompano said, "I'll tell my dad"/"I'll give you a cookie," so Teacher/Girl relented.

Then Deeper/Pompano tried to get Teacher/Girl to take off her skirt. Teacher/Girl did not want to do that, either.

"I'll tell my dad"/"I'll give you a cookie." Okay.

Then this exchange goes on for a good five minutes while Teacher/Girl is threatened/bribed into taking off all seventy layers of whatever she's wearing and then either doing the sex or sticking a pencil in her urethra or some other disgusting activity that demonstrates that eight-year-olds have absolutely no grasp of how sex actually works.

And then once whatever non-consensual gross-out act is in progress, the dad walks into the classroom/treehouse and yells "Deeper!"/"Pompano!" in shock.

Deeper/Pompano replies, "I'm trying! I'm trying!"

And then his mom walks in and yells the boy's name. The response is the same.

And then this part of the joke goes on for five minutes as apparently everyone in the kid's family including the baby and both grandparents were just passing by in the area and all individually decided to stop in the classroom/treehouse, each about fifteen seconds apart from the other, and pretty much all they do is stand in the doorway with the rest of the shocked family and yell the kid's name.

And finally at the end the damn kid yells a response that's a pun on his name/how vigorously he was doing sex, as if you didn't already see that coming from the very first sentence or from the other hundred times you've heard the exact same joke from the kids in your class.

And then, I can only assume, Deeper/Pompano goes to juvie for a good long time while his parents are left wondering how they could have raised such a cruel abusive kid (perhaps it was the unlimited access to cookies?), and the whole rest of the witnesses receive the therapy they now desperately need as well as lessons in how to intervene when they see someone being threatened or assaulted, and then the kids who told/heard the joke in the first place eventually grow up and realize it was actually a pretty horrifying and sexist joke if you think about it, though of course no one knew that in third grade, and then one of those now-adults re-tells it in a long comment on the internet in reply to a blog post about various kids' dirty jokes/songs and halfway through writing gets a little offended and depressed by it, when the intended point was just man, kids have a really stupid sense of humor and their comedic timing is shit. The End.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:19 AM on January 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've always been interested in that weird little subculture of kid knowledge. My five-year-old niece can sing "Jingle Bells, Batman smells, / Robin laid an egg," the same way I did decades ago, but surely no adult taught it to her.

True story: I actually taught my kids the timeless "Batman smells" version of Jingle Bells when they were very little. When my oldest son was just 3 1/2, he had pneumonia and had to go to the hospital on Christmas Eve night*. I spent the night with him there, laying awake worrying about his fever, watching out for the I.V. line, helping him get to the bathroom, listening to his ragged breathing and just praying the antibiotics would work.

When we woke up Christmas morning he was feeling so much better we were both all smiles, and we turned on the TV. the Batman cartoons (the good ones with Batman and Joker and his girlfriend Harlequin) were on with their Christmas episode, and the Joker gleefully sang, "Jingle Bells, Batman smells", etc. as he played some trick on Batman.

My son looked at me wide-eyed and said, "Mom, they STOLE YOUR SONG!"

*I know, it broke my heart too.
posted by misha at 11:19 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Never laugh when the hearse goes by,
For you may be the next to die.
They wrap you up in a big white sheet
And drop you down about eleven foot deep.

The worms crawl in.
The worms crawl out.
The worms play pea-knuckle on your spout.

____________________


Great green globs of greasy grimy gopher guts,
Mutilated-monkey meat,
Dirty little birdies' feet.
Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts,
And I forgot my spoon. SHUCKS!
posted by swlabr at 11:20 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


And then once whatever non-consensual gross-out act is in progress, the dad walks into the classroom/treehouse and yells "Deeper!"/"Pompano!" in shock.

I learned this exact same story in Liverpool in the early 1960's, but the girl's name was Shagerada. On discovery by her father, in flagrante delicto, the protagonist's punchline was "I'm trying my best but I can't shag any harder."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:24 AM on January 13, 2010


I see London, I see France, I see someone's underpants,
Not too big, not too small, just the size of Montreal a cannonball!
posted by marxchivist at 11:25 AM on January 13, 2010


P.S. This post and this thread are awesome.
posted by marxchivist at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2010


This is a pretty great resource. One thing I'm wondered about for a long time was this cheerful, raucous song we used to sing about the Titanic when I went to summer camp. The only lines I remember are:

It was sad, so sad
It was sad, so sad
It was sad that the great ship should die (dive?)
to the bottom of the-
Husbands and wives
Little children lost their lives
It was sad that the great ship should die.

Googling around, I discovered this song dates back to the time of the ship's sinking. This was sung in a happy, upbeat, full-throated tone, usually on the bus to or from some place. Why it was sung so happily, I never knew.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:29 AM on January 13, 2010


The worms crawlgo in.
The worms crawlgo out.
The worms play pea-knuckle on your spout.
They eat your guts and they spit them out.
And then you decaaaaaayyyyyy


This is one that I heard a single time from a single person. They may have even sung "crawl" and I heard "go". Lineage, not region.
posted by DU at 11:31 AM on January 13, 2010


The worms play pea-knuckle on your spout.

I think they were playing "pinocle," but sure. Why not pea-knuckle?

I always heard the last two lines of the "worms go in" song as "There's one little worm that's not too shy, he's up your nose and out your eye."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:35 AM on January 13, 2010


swlabr, the word you're looking for is Pinochle.
posted by lumensimus at 11:35 AM on January 13, 2010


My mother and your mother were hanging up clothes,
My mother punched your mother right in the nose.
What color was the blood?


Children's counting games are also really interesting.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:40 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


My eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school
We have tortured every teacher, we have broken every rule
We are marching to the office now to shoot the principal
Our truth is marching on

Glory, glory hallelujah
Teacher hit me with a ruler
Met her at the door with a loaded 44
And there ain't no teacher no more
posted by matildaben at 11:44 AM on January 13, 2010


this cheerful, raucous song we used to sing about the Titanic when I went to summer camp

I also sang this at camp; the verses I remember go:

They built the ship Titanic to sail the ocean blue
And they thought they had a ship that the water'd ne'er go through
But God's almighty hand said the ship would never land
Oh it was sad when the great ship went down

[Chorus]
Oh it was sad (so sad)
Oh it was sad (too bad)
Oh it was sad when the great ship went down

To the bottom of the [Here you split and some people sing one part and some sing the other]
seeeeeeeeeeeeeea / Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives

Oh it was sad when the great ship went down

They sailed away from England and were almost to the shore
When the rich refused to mingle with the poor
So they sent them down below and they were the first to go
Oh it was sad when the great ship went down

[Chorus, sung rousingly two or three times]
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:47 AM on January 13, 2010


I had no idea that Titanic song had a class struggle message.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:50 AM on January 13, 2010


The version of the hearse song that I learned from my aunt (!):

Never laugh when a hearse goes by
For you may be the next to die
They wrap you up in a bloody sheet
And throw you down about sixty feet

The first few days seem okay
But then the worms come out to play
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
They play pinochle on your spout
posted by spacewaitress at 11:51 AM on January 13, 2010


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: Sadly lacking any Miss Lucy.
She's subsumed by Susie and Tiny Tim. Miss Lucy was the first I looked for, too.

This is a delightful site.
posted by knile at 11:51 AM on January 13, 2010


Somehow one line of nonsense poetry chanted by girls playing clapping games on my 5th-grade elementary school playground at recess has stayed with me all these years, and now is the name of a recurring character in the stories I tell my 4-year-old daughter: Bo-Bo Ski Otten-Otten. Anybody know that one? What does it mean?
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 11:52 AM on January 13, 2010


To the bottom of the [Here you split and some people sing one part and some sing the other]
seeeeeeeeeeeeeea / Husbands Uncles and wives aunts, little children lost their lives pants


FTFY

Bo-Bo Ski Otten-Otten. Anybody know that one? What does it mean?

Bo-bo ski wotten-totten.
Eh eh, eh eh (boom boom boom).
Minne-minne-wah-wah, bo-bo ski wotten,
bo-bo ski wotten FREEZE.

At least, that's how it went in Ann Arbor MI in the mid-80s. I don't think it means anything.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:57 AM on January 13, 2010


This folklorist is loving this - thank you!
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:58 AM on January 13, 2010


That one I learned as:

Flee
Flee fly
Flee fly flow
Vista
Coomalada coomalada coomalada vista
Oh, no no no no no vista
Eenie meenie desameenie oowah, chowalah meenie exemeenie solameenie oowah chowat.
Big bad billy-goatin' bo bo be deetin' dahtin' chshhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Man I went to a psychotic summer camp.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:59 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I taught my kids the "beans, beans, the musical fruit" song this winter. How could I not? They need to get something from me that's stupid and fun and light-hearted, in between all the homework and manners and stuff. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:01 PM on January 13, 2010


"Met her at the door with a loaded 44
And there ain't no teacher no more"


We used to sing that too Matldaben. We thought it was hysterical but damn, that gives me the creeps now.
posted by Kloryne at 12:01 PM on January 13, 2010


I'll never forget the look of joy on my little cousin's face when she learned "This Is The Song That Doesn't End".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:01 PM on January 13, 2010


Never laugh when the hearse goes by,
For you may be the next to die.


I actually learned a much longer version of this one from Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories series. When I think about it, most of the urban legends and creepy rhymes I know came from those books. not my peers.
posted by lexicakes at 12:03 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The worms go in
the worms go out
the worms play pinochle on your snout
your stomach turns a slimy green
and pus shoots out like whipping cream
(spoken) and me without a spoon"

At least that's how my mother taught us.
posted by yesster at 12:11 PM on January 13, 2010


Harry Roberts is our friend,
Is our friend, is our friend,
Harry Roberts is our friend,
He kills coppers.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:12 PM on January 13, 2010


P.S.: You know what has always bothered me? In "The Song That Doesn't End", they say, "Some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue singing it forever", which doesn't make a damn bit of sense since it BEGINS, "This is the song that doesn't end". How could they not have known? The best thing of which I can think is that they didn't speak English, and it seems like an awfully cruel joke to play on someone who doesn't know your language.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:14 PM on January 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Nothing like a good 19th Century Fart Joke:

I think, I think,
I fin' a stink,
it's comin' from Y-O-U!

Any word on "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms?"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:16 PM on January 13, 2010


I think, I think,
I fin' a stink,
it's comin' from Y-O-U!


My favorite part from that link was that whoever was it would get tickled or something until they said "peas!"

That's a whole other thing -- in 19th Century Scotland it was "peas", then here in this country I heard it was "Uncle". What's the "I give up" word these days?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:18 PM on January 13, 2010


and pus shoots out like whipping cream
(spoken) and me without a spoon


My nana (born and went through elementary school in Germany) would often exclaim "Blood and gore all over the floor and me without a spoon!" at any kind of minor disaster. I think she picked up when she taught middle school, but it's still weird that she had so many kid-sayings up her sleeve when she spent her entire childhood in Germany.

(She was also the main person to taunt me with the worm song. Which, again, I think you have to learn it from a kid at some point.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:19 PM on January 13, 2010


Kindergarten, garbage
First grade, tots
Second grade, angels
Third grade, snots
Fourth grade, peaches
Fifth grade, plums
And all the rest are dirty bums.

shutesbury, mass. circa 1983
posted by Spatch at 12:19 PM on January 13, 2010


To the bottom of the [Here you split and some people sing one part and some sing the other]
seeeeeeeeeeeeeea / Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives


And then at the end, you change it to:

Uncles and Aunts, little bitty children lost their pants

Camplore is another big subset area of folklore. Camps are incredibly rich grounds for the development and dissemination of lore, because everyone's going there together, bringing all their little bits of culture from their home communities; everyone's stuck in the woods with much less electronic entertainment; camps themselves have a lot of their own traditional lore that is intentionally passed down year to year; camps also have informal lore that is passed down in subversive pathways year to year; and everything about the camp environment lends itself to silly, manic, overenthusiastic expressions. Camplore as a subfield seems to be less well represented on the web, but you can find many repositories of camp songs, one of the most memorable and interesting forms. You can really trace the movement of songs geographically and across time, camp to camp and year to year, and some folklorists do just that.
posted by Miko at 12:24 PM on January 13, 2010


What's the "I give up" word these days?

We had to say "Mercy."
posted by Miko at 12:25 PM on January 13, 2010


Oooh, I did an AskMe on this topic! It was a highly unscientific survey of regional and generational variations on children's jump rhymes like Miss Mary Mack and Miss Susie Had a Steamboat.

There's a lot of fascinating information out there about the transmittal of children's folk rhymes over generations. As some have noted, they are remarkably faithful over the years. If you're interested in scholarly research, I have a whole trove of information on the topic that I can MeMail you (Miko, as usual, also knows a lot of really cool stuff about this topic).

There's also this really cool book called The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren that documents English schoolchildren's rhymes from the early part of the 20th century (it was published in the 1950s). It has rhymes going back to the 1500s that I'm familiar with and younger cousins of mine are familiar with (and it's also interesting to note that a lot of these rhymes cross continents REALLY quickly; one rhyme crossed the world in something like 17 days in the early 1900s well before television or radio--I have a more exact citation for that one in my notes). We're also recycling lots of stuff from the 19th century still.

It's even more interesting to see what *doesn't* get repeated over the years (lots of commercial stuff, like rhymes about Coke, doesn't get passed on nearly as much as say, "Miss Mary Mack" or "Lizzie Borden").

This is such a cool topic! I'm glad to see there's a(nother) blog about it.
posted by librarylis at 12:27 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Husbands and wives
Little children lost their lives


we always sang, "Uncles and aunts/little kiddies lost their pants"
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:28 PM on January 13, 2010


What's the "I give up" word these days?

"Uncle" in 1980s Vermont. I have no idea why uncles are more worthy of mercy than aunts, but there it is.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:30 PM on January 13, 2010


camps also have informal lore that is passed down in subversive pathways

Is this like how at summer camp when I was thirteen a copy of Spring Collection discreetly made the rounds through my cabin?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:33 PM on January 13, 2010


We had to say "Mercy."

Same here. "Mercy" was also a game, probably invented by children with overactive pituitary glands, where you and another child would grasp both of each other's hands, and then you would both struggle to force the other's hands backwards until the subsequent pain made one of you cry, "Mercy!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:37 PM on January 13, 2010


Is this like how at summer camp when I was thirteen a copy of Spring Collection discreetly made the rounds through my cabin?

Heh - for us it was "Flowers in the Attic" and Judy Blume's "Forever." But to a folklorist, no, that's a little different - the kids are conspiring to pass something illicit along to one another, but since it's a piece of mass commerical culture, it's a little bit different from 'folklore,' something remembered and completely reproduced by people and then transferred to other people.
posted by Miko at 12:43 PM on January 13, 2010


Coca Cola came to town
Pepsi Cola shot him down
Dr Pepper Fixed him up
Now he's drinkin' 7-Up
posted by bitteroldman at 12:53 PM on January 13, 2010


I recall a really bad joke about waiting in a long line for the bathroom. The punchline was the Alka Seltzer jingle: "plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is..."
posted by Miko at 12:55 PM on January 13, 2010


He really has an interesting collection on this blog. This one:

One, two, three, four
roll it up a little more
five, six, seven, eight
sorry, boys, coffee break!


Came back to me clear as day. He says

no one, to my knowledge, ever ACTUALLY heard girls saying this one (and doing the actions that went with it), but a few people claimed they had....It was said to be a rhyme said while rolling up one' shirt, stopping just before "the moment of truth" (as one folklorist who collected this put it).


I'm a girl and I do remember hearing it, seeing it done and probably doing it myself...only not in front of boys, only in gatherings of girls, and only to make everybody giggle and feel risque.
posted by Miko at 1:00 PM on January 13, 2010


I can remember one in total, although now that I google some of the lyrics it looks like it was (originally?) a rugby drinking song:

Over hill, over dale,
We will fight for ginger ale
in the cellar of Murphy's Saloon

We are strong, we are bold
For our liquor we can hold
in the cellar of Murphy's Saloon

We will Drink! Drink! Drink!
'till we throw up in the sink
Shout out your orders loud and clear
(MORE BEER!)

We'll be rolling on the floor
When the cops come through the door
in the cellar of Murphy's Saloon


(Oklahoma, early 1960's)
posted by yhbc at 1:03 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


We'll be rolling on the floor
When the cops come through the door


We had

If you want some more,
You can lick it off the floor...
In the basement of Murphy's Saloon.


Side note: A lot of these that are complete song parodies got to kids through the vector of the military. There's some overlap there. WWII generated a ton of popular song parodies that then went everywhere geographically. It doesn't take too many older brothers, big kids, or grandpas singing their off-color songs to pre-teen boys to get that stuff to enter kidlore.
posted by Miko at 1:06 PM on January 13, 2010


Here's one of the rhymes I just sent to the site's creator:

Abe Lincoln was a good old man
He jumped out the window with his dick in his hand
said "'Scuse me ladies, gotta do my duty
Drop your draws and gimme some booty!

My wife thinks my part of the country was just really perverted, because she's never heard this rhyme. Perhaps someone else out there has?
posted by bugmuncher at 1:08 PM on January 13, 2010


Kindergarten, garbage
First grade, tots
. etc.

Version from St. Louis area in the late 70s was

First grade babies, second-grade tots,
Third grade's angels, fourth grade's not
Fifth grade apples, sixth grade pears
All the rest are dirty old bears

My mother (grew up in New Jersey) knew the peaches/plums variant, and I liked that better. I was also convinced it was "fourth grade snot" and liked it better (except when I was in fourth grade, of course).

"Adam and Eve" was the one I really remember from grade school (my best friend gave me a handwritten copy, probably around 7th or 8th grade). The version I know has some variance from the linked version but the basics are certainly the same. I'm surprised that one hasn't made it to Playground Jungle yet--maybe it's too dirty.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:19 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Along with the "dirty" songs and rhymes I unfortunately also remember a few racist ones as well, which is not surprising growing up white in Oklahoma in the early '60s. I'm not going to kick any off, but it should be mentioned that they did exist.
posted by yhbc at 1:24 PM on January 13, 2010


Oh, the other one I remember was "Billboards," which was pretty much the same tune as Miss Suzie/Lucy (which in my neck of the woods was always Miss MOLLY).

I know for sure my stepdaughters didn't know that one; I never asked them about "first grade babies" and I certainly haven't asked them about "Adam & Eve." They have known a few that I remember, like Miss Molly (can't remember if their version was somebody else) and some of the hand-claps and jump rope rhymes.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:26 PM on January 13, 2010


swlabr: "The worms play pea-knuckle on your spout. "

The version we had went:

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
The worms play pinochle on your snout.
They eat the jelly between your toes,
And everything else, except your nose.


You see, they saved your nose so that they could continue to play pinochle there. Perfectly logical.
posted by team lowkey at 1:28 PM on January 13, 2010


It doesn't take too many older brothers, big kids, or grandpas singing their off-color songs to pre-teen boys to get that stuff to enter kidlore.

We definitely knew the words to a whole pile of gratuitously obscene rugby songs from the age of eight or nine at my school. I was always very partial to the various parodies of the old Music Hall songs, She Was Poor But She Was Honest and My God How The Money Rolls In
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:33 PM on January 13, 2010


Our "All My Lovin'" parody"

Close your eyes
Spread your legs
And I'll fertilize your eggs

(I guess that dates me.)
posted by Danf at 1:36 PM on January 13, 2010


we had a set of call and response to the titanic song in central connecticut in the 1990s,

Oh, it was sad (not so bad!)
It was sad (I was glad!)
it was sad when the great ship went down
(to the bottom of the peeeeeeee)

and a littany of dirty couplets at the end

(uncles and aunts, little children lost their pants; brothers and sis, little children lost their piss; mothers and dads, little children lost their nads)
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:51 PM on January 13, 2010


Growing up in eighties Belfast we had a bunch of playground songs, but looking back on them as an adult it is depressing to note how many of them were anti-Catholic in one way or another. Thought nothing of it at the time. They presumably must have originated with adolescents and adults and percolated downwards, since I doubt eight year olds would spontaneously come up with this stuff...

There was an old woman in '82, sirrah, sirrah
There was an old woman in '82, sirrah, sirrah
There was an old woman in '82, who did a fart and away it blew
Rah rah rah rah, over the Irish Sea

The fart went flying down the street, sirrah, sirrah
The fart went flying down the street, sirrah, sirrah
The fart went flying down the street, and knocked a copper of his feet
Rah rah rah rah, over the Irish Sea

The copper drew out his trusty pistol, sirrah, sirrah
The copper drew out his trusty pistol, sirrah, sirrah
The copper drew out his trusty pistol, and blew the fart from here to Bristol
Rah rah rah rah, over the Irish Sea

The Bristol Rovers were playing at home, sirrah, sirrah
The Bristol Rovers were playing at home, sirrah, sirrah
The Bristol Rovers were playing at home, and kicked the fart from here to Rome
Rah rah rah rah, over the Irish Sea

The Pope was drinking holy gin, sirrah, sirrah
The Pope was drinking holy gin, sirrah, sirrah
The Pope was drinking holy gin, he opened his mouth and the fart went in
Rah rah rah rah, over the Irish Sea

The fart went flying down his spine, sirrah, sirrah
The fart went flying down his spine, sirrah, sirrah
The fart went flying down his spine, and knocked his ballox out of line
Rah rah rah rah, over the Irish Sea


I do hope I haven't offended anyone by posting this. Not my intention if I have.
posted by Tapioca at 2:16 PM on January 13, 2010


Carl Sandburg did my favorite version of the "worms crawl in". And, no I didn't hear it from him as my primary school classmate.
posted by path at 3:43 PM on January 13, 2010


And I forgot my spoon. SHUCKS!

But I got my stra-a-a-a-a-a-a-aw...
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:19 PM on January 13, 2010


There is also the venerable British version The Law of the Playground.
posted by tellurian at 5:29 PM on January 13, 2010


What's your name?
Puddintain!
posted by Biblio at 5:32 PM on January 13, 2010


In the middle of the night in broad daylight
Two dead boys got up to fight

A liar went to see fair play
A deaf-mute went to shout "hooray!"

Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other

A crippled donkey walking by
Kicked the liar in the eye

Knocked him through a nine-inch wall
Down a ditch and drowned them all

A deaf policeman heard the noise
And went to stop the two dead boys

If you don't believe my story's true
Ask the blind man -- he saw it, too!
posted by Rhaomi at 5:46 PM on January 13, 2010


I didn't know of the grade by grade rhyme until I read Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli when I was in 4th or 5th grade, and I thought he'd come up with it:
'"First grade babies!
Second grade cats!
Third grade angels!
Fourth grade . . . RATS!"
posted by knile at 5:57 PM on January 13, 2010


I sing these songs at the library programmes I teach to New Canadian children. So I am at least one adult making sure these songs aren't lost. My own children were scandalised by some of them.
posted by saucysault at 6:05 PM on January 13, 2010


Side note: A lot of these that are complete song parodies got to kids through the vector of the military. There's some overlap there. WWII generated a ton of popular song parodies that then went everywhere geographically. It doesn't take too many older brothers, big kids, or grandpas singing their off-color songs to pre-teen boys to get that stuff to enter kidlore.

At summer camp at age 13 in the early eighties, I learned various permutations to the lyrics for the "Colonel Bogey March." I was puzzled then as to why I was singing about Mussolini and Eisenhower, and am no less puzzled now.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:37 PM on January 13, 2010


I made up an Oscar Meyer weiner variation when I was 10 (in 1973). It passed around to a handful of friends. My parents were horrified:

I wish I were an olive in a martini
For that is what I'd truly like to be
But if I were an olive in a martini
I would have a toothpick stuck through me
posted by zinfandel at 8:47 PM on January 13, 2010


I love looking through the variations of schoolyard rhymes (there's an AskMe question that collects a lot of them) but I almost like the variations on campsongs even more. My version of the Titanic song is definitely different (and several verses longer), and I was staggered to see how many alternate versions there were of John Rebeck/Dunderbeck/Verbeck:

Once there was a butcher
His name was John Rebeck.
He was a dealer in sausages and speck
One day he invented a wonderful machine
Now all the neighbor's cats and dogs will never more be seen!

Refrain:
Oh, John Rebeck, oh John Rebeck,
How could you be so mean?
I told you you'd be sorry for inventing that machine.
Now all the neighbors' cats and dogs will never more be seen,
They're all ground down to sausages in John Rebeck's machine.

One day a certain lady
Came walking to the store
She bought a pound of sausages and dropped them on the floor
A boy began to whistle - he whistled up a tune
And all the little sausages, they danced around the room!

One day the darn thing busted
The dang thing wouldn't go
So John Rebeck, he crawled inside to see what made it so
His wife, she had a nightmare and went walking in her sleep.
She gave the crank a heck of a yank, and John Rebeck was meat!

posted by ubersturm at 8:54 PM on January 13, 2010


Also, and obviously this one's later and I didn't have a playground to spread this one around on - instead of Eeny, meeny, miny, moe:

Ooshy, gooshy, John Belushi
Roll it up and make some sushi
If it wiggles just say no
If it giggles, let it go!
posted by zinfandel at 8:55 PM on January 13, 2010


I had no idea that Titanic song had a class struggle message.

There's also a little-known verse about how it was the most erotic moment of a gross old lady's life.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:01 PM on January 13, 2010


Tapioca, we had a similar song called "The Ants Go Marching," which can be seen and heard here. Nothing really offensive about it though. It could probably just be called a nursery rhyme.
posted by Demogorgon at 9:52 PM on January 13, 2010


I love this stuff :) I was a Girl Scout for 10 years and ran camps with my troop for most of high school, and there would always be one girl in my troop who would go back east or abroad over the summer to a different Scout camp and come back with all kinds of crazy songs and cool new slangs. Girl Scouting seems to exist in part to propagate weirdo kid folklore all over the world. My favorite campfire song was Princess Pat and I Googled it some months back and learned its surprising history. Needless to say we had changed the words considerably. But there were all these gestures to explain that the ricky-bam-boo was something made by the Princess Pat...it was so much fun to sing. And of course the immortal "My Momma Don't Wear No Socks", which could be augmented with as many verses as the girls running the campfire could think of...

My favorite teacher in high school had a PhD in folklore and specialized in children's folklore. You have to be a pretty special kind of person to be able to get kids to tell you dirty stories they heard on the playground, but she managed it somehow. She got her own daughter to tell her what the game "Lemon" was, which completely blows my mind. I would not have told my mom under pain of death.
posted by crinklebat at 10:06 PM on January 13, 2010




I don't know the game "Lemon". What is it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:08 PM on January 13, 2010


"Lemon" As She Is Spoke.
posted by hades at 10:44 PM on January 13, 2010


Marisa Stole The Precious Thing: I just learned that Vista Vista rhyme from improv warmups! Someone in the group learnt it from another improv person!
posted by divabat at 3:16 AM on January 14, 2010


So;

Was it "mutilated monkey meat, itsy bitsy birdy feet" or "mutilated monkey nuts, itsy bitsy birdy butts?"
posted by louche mustachio at 3:36 AM on January 14, 2010


Both are wrong; it's "chopped up baby monkey meat, with a little parakeet, French friend eyeballs rolling down the toilet seat and I forgot my spoon." Adding a closing "slurp slurp" sound is optional.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:15 AM on January 14, 2010


@Rhaomi - thanks for the variant! I learned it as:

Early in the morning in the middle of the night
Two dead boys got up to fight

Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot another

The deaf policeman heard the noise
Came and killed the two dead boys

Back to the graveyard, trot trot trot
They got made 'cause they got shot.
posted by korej at 9:19 AM on January 14, 2010


Not rude, but one of my favourites (sung with ASL signs) is:
A boy and a girl in a little canoe
Just a boy and a girl in a little canoe
With the moon shining all around
As he glides his paddle
You couldn't even hear a sound
So they talked, and they talked
Till the moon grew dim
Then the little boy said
Give me a kiss
So what you gonna do in a little canoe
With the moon shinin' all a
Boats floatin' all a
Girls swimmin' all around!
posted by saucysault at 12:00 PM on January 14, 2010


Ack. The line shoud have been:
kiss me or swim
posted by saucysault at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2010


As I recall, the threatened game of worm pinochle was in my snout, not on it.
posted by malocchio at 12:33 PM on January 14, 2010


Was it "mutilated monkey meat, itsy bitsy birdy feet" or "mutilated monkey nuts, itsy bitsy birdy butts?"

We did "mutilated monkey's meat, chocolate-covered chicken's feet"!

Followed by "two quart cans of all-purpose porpoise pus, floating in pink lemonade!"

This thread is just awesome!
posted by tommasz at 1:48 PM on January 14, 2010


Any word on "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms?"

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go and eat worms
Fat ones, skinny ones, big ones, little ones
Ones that squiggle and squirm

(This is the good bit) Bite their heads off
Suck the guts out
Throw the skins away
This is how we live and breathe
On worms three times a day!

And the Ants go Marching, which goes on forever, like this:

The ants go marching two by two, hurrah hurrah
The ants go marching two by two, hurrah hurrah
The ants go marching two by two, the little one stopped to tie his shoe
And they all go marching
Down
to the drain
to get out
of the rain
BOOM BOOM BOOM

The ants go marching three by three, hurrah hurrrah
The ants go marching three by three, hurrah hurrah
The ants go marching three by three
The little one stopped to have a pee (collapse in shrieking giggles at this part)
And they all go marching
Down
to the drain
to get out
of the rain
BOOM BOOM BOOM

etcetera.

Some of these I'm sure are very old, but some were parodies of commercials:

Comet! It makes your face go green!
Comet! You smell like gasoline!
Comet! It makes you vomit!
So buy some Comet and vomit today!

Mid to late 60s vintage here.
posted by jokeefe at 6:31 PM on January 15, 2010


Here's what I learned:

Nobody likes me
Everybody hates me
I'm gonna eat a woooorm

Short, fat, juicy worms
Long, skinny, slimy worms
Itsy-bitsy, fuzzy-wuzzy wooooorms!

First you bite the head off
Then you suck the guts out
Oh, how the wiggly worm squiiiiirms

Short, fat, juicy worms
Long, skinny, slimy worms
Itsy-bitsy, fuzzy-wuzzy wooooorms!
posted by magstheaxe at 11:23 AM on January 20, 2010


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