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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
EuGene Folklore: Play Ground Hand Jives (69* d) RE: Folklore: Play Ground Hand Jives 01 Jul 07

Az: Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to muddy the water by calling those little jump rope songs "ditties" . . . that's just a descriptive word that I used here to talk about them.

I don't recall that we used any sort of name for them except something like "The Annie's steamboat song" or "Grandpa's farm". Best I recall was that we had names for them like that and nothing (like the word "ditty")that was used to identify the genre of songs.

Also, I lived in several different places as an elementary student, including Little Rock which was in Central Arkansas (1st & 2nd grade), here in the Ozarks (Kindergarten & 3rd grade), Faifax, VA (4th - 6th grade), York, ME (7th Grade), then returned here in the 8th grade through high school. Of course inasmuch as I was the oldest of 11 kids, I heard all the little songs and chants up until I grew up and lit out on my own.

I don't recall that there was a whole lot of differences in the kids' songs and chants between Arkansas, Virginia, and Maine, at least the common ones like Annie's steamboat, "When you see a hearse go by", and "pretty little Dutch girl" which seemed to be pretty common everywhere. I don't recall hearing the "Grandpa's Farm" song anywhere but here, even in different versions as "I like coffee, I like tea" with different lead-in verses. Of course, I could have just as easily not heard some of the songs & chants, although they may have been sung in all of the areas where we lived.

Some "ditties" I don't recall hearing as a small child, but would hear them often after I had gotten out of high school . . . one of those that comes to mind is

"Nobody loves me,
Everybody hates me,
I think I'll just eat worms.
. . .
?" (don't know the rest)

another that I didn't hear until my late teens was the one about "Greasy grimy gopher guts"

The above two could well have been around for a while, but had not reached our geographic area until about the time my youngest siblings were going through elementary school. I don't recall ever hearing either in VA or ME, but could have just missed them.

We had a song in Virginia the words which I can't recall, but it started out, "We are the Crumb Bums". It had several verses and a chorus which would name a different one of us 4th grade boys each time the chorus was sung. Each of us was given an name line (by the other boys) that rhymed with our name and was inserted at the beginning of a chorus verse . . each time the chorus was sung, a diferent one of us boys was so "headlined". I went by the diminuative, Gene, in those days so, when it came timne for me to be named in the chorus, I was:

"Gene, the Bean,
The rotten tangerine"

Since we were supposed to be "Crumb Bums", we each had less than complimentary two-liners like above that rhymed with our name, always "composed" by all the boys except for the one being so named.
I remember hearing some grade school boys singing something with the same tune and very similar words when I was in high school after we had moved back to Arkansas.

Gosh, there were so many little "ditties" that kids would sing as I was growing up, and I know that I am omitting a lot of them . . . too many years have gone by and memories fade. But, when I do suddenly recall a few words or a tune used for one of them, it sometimes comes back to my mind. At least this thread has me to thinking. Also, as I visit with my sisters (scattered about the USA) I will ask them to help me recall this stuff.


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