Mudcat Café message #2315400 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #110403   Message #2315400
Posted By: Azizi
14-Apr-08 - 02:42 PM
Thread Name: Law Officers in Songs &Children's Rhymes
Subject: RE: Law Officers in Songs &Children's Rhymes
Here's a children's rhyme that mentions a policeman.

I Don't Want To Go To Mexico {Example #3}
Shame Shame Shame.
I don't want to go to Mexico
no more, more, more.
There's a big fat policeman
at door, door, door.
He'll grab you by the collar
and make you pay a dollar.
I don't want to go to Mexico
no more, more, more.
"Shut the door!" 
-Breeana W. & Tonoya W.{Philadelphia, PA};


I collected this rhyme at a family reunion in 2001. I asked several of my young cousins at a family reunion if they knew any handclapping songs. They performed this one as a partner handclap {two people stand still, facing each other and alternately clap or slap one or two of the other person's hands}. Each partner tries to be the first to say "shut the door!" Whoever says it first, lightly flicks the other player on the side of their forehead and then points to them in a "Got ya!" manner. Each girl leans back to try to not get flicked or tapped on the forehead. It's possible for both of them to get flicked or tapped at the same time. But no one is supposed to get angry about this. This is just one of several rhymes that I have collected that involve children getting flicked or tapped or hit during a rhyme or at the end of a rhyme.

"I Don't Want To Go To Macy's" {and similarly worded titles that include the word "Macy's"} is probably the source for "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" and other related children's rhymes. Roger Abraham documents in his collection Jump-Rope Dictionary that "I Don't Want To Go To Macy's" was performed by American children in 1938."Macy's" is the name of a chain of department stores. The most famous Macy's store is located in New York City. 

My theory is that these children substituted "Mexico" for "Macys" since they weren't familiar with the "Macy's" store or the word "Macy's". While I've seen a number of children perform "I Don't Want To Go To Mexico" in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area [as well as seeing my Philadelphia cousins perform it], I've never seen anyone recite the words "I Don't Want To Go To Macy's". Also, no example of "I Don't Want To Go To Macy" that I have read includes the "Shame Shame Shame" introductory phrase or any introductory phrase. I've noticed these kinds of introductory phrases in a large number of African American children's rhymes. Often there also may be an ending phrase such as is found in this example.

One seven year old Pittsburgh girl recited the same version that is presented above, but she started the rhyme by saying "Shine, shine, shine". Because it appears to me that children try to make sense out of their rhymes, and being ashamed of being caught by a policeman makes more sense in these rhymes than the word shine, I believe that "shine" is another example of "folk etymology" with the source word being "shame".

For more examples of this rhyme, including an example of "I Won't Go To Macy's", visit this page of my website: