Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cheap Entertainment

Yesterday as we waited for a table for dim-sum with a literal sea of Asians at Lucky Three in Baileys Crossroads, we were thoroughly entertained by a couple of 8-year-old little girls with dark black hair and beautiful Chinese eyes. They had a whole series of rhymes with hand gestures and even foot gestures and they were glad to have an audience.

The first one had to do with lemonade and I can't remember the words. The second one began with:

Welcome to MacDonalds.
Can I take your order?

and ended with

Don't forget your apple pie.

I wish I had a movie of the girl in the pink sweatshirt who knew ALL the words perfectly and got annoyed when her partner messed up. Her little brother was studying hard so as to join the game.

We remarked that these kids would have happily stood in line for hours doing their rhymes over and over and over again. No equipment necessary. No batteries needed. No referee required. Who could ask for better behaved children?

This took me back to the summer of 1960, when I was 11 and Nancy Knott visited her elderly aunt Miss Green, who lived across the street from us. What a godsend! These were the days when we just stayed home for the summer, playing outdoors or otherwise entertaining ourselves until our mothers called us home to supper.

Nancy was from Knoxville, Tennessee, and she was a beautiful charmer, who knew a little bit about everything. She quickly introduced me to the following rhymes, much like those of the Chinese girls:

That's tough.
What's tough?
Life's tough.
What's life?
A magazine.
How much?
Ten cents. (This shows the effect of inflation.)
Haven't got it.
That's tough
....and you start all over again going as fast as you possibly can.

Or a slightly racier one:

Lulu had a steamboat.
The steamboat had a bell.
Lulu went to heaven.
The steamboat went to ...
Hello operator,
Give me #9.
If you disconnect me,
I'll kick you in the ...
Behind the refrigerator,
There lies a broken glass.
Lulu fell upon it
And broke her little ...
Ask me no questions,
I'll tell you no lies.
You bake me cakes,
And I'll bake you pies.

And then there was the impossible:

One day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other.
They drew their swords and shot each other.
The deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came and shot the two dead boys.
And if you don't believe this story's true,
Ask the blind man. He saw it too.

In addition to rhyming the summer away, Nancy Knott taught me a whole repertoire of Heart and Soul and Chopsticks variations that I still play today. She and I sewed together, making identical dropped-waist dresses. Mine was turquoise plaid. Hers was pink plaid. But best of all, she attracted cute boys from blocks away, who all came to my house to play croquet almost every day. We slammed those croquet balls all over my front yard.

I hadn't thought for a long while about that summer so long ago, when Nancy Knott from Knoxville descended on sleepy Panama City and taught us a thing or two.

Think back. Is there a rhyme back there somewhere that you still remember?


Blogger Jamy said...

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With rows of buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back

She jumped so high, high, high
That she didn't come back
'Til the 4th of July

Or something like that. Done with hand clapping by a pair of girls...

Coincidentally, I learned this in Knoxville, TN, where I went to grade school.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Jamy said...

Here's a link the complete words of Miss Mary Mack.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Say, say, my playmate
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Slide down my rainbow
Into my cellar door
And we'll be jolly friends
Forever more, more,
More, more, more, more.

Or something like that. I know the clapping better than the rhyme these days.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

we just played baseball :-)

4:38 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Jamy, Kristin -- Isn't it funny how the words and the gestures still seem so strangely familiar? If you close your eyes, you can probably even see yourself on the school playground with one of your classmates clapping and rhyming.

DD -- This is definitely a girl thing, not to seem gender biased. You boys were just so physical even back then...

4:43 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Thanks for this. I came home tonight and called my best friend from elementary school.

I owed her an email but your post made me long for her voice, if not slapping hands.

Thank you.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Aileen said...

This also went with hand-clapping by a pair :

"I am a pretty little dutch girl
As pretty as can be
And all the boys on my street
Are crazy over me..."

That's all I can remember...but I remember the hand movements perfectly!!! (And btw- aren't the words awful?!)

9:27 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Glad I inspired you to give your friend a call.

Aileen -- Yes, we did that one and yes, the words are awful. But I don't remember ever really thinking too much about the words. The hand slapping and the rhythm were what was important.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slide down my rain barrel, climb through my cellar door........At least I think so......

And Mary Mack for the jump rope, as I remember...........

Loved them all.

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

peas porridge hot
peas porridge cold
peas porridge in the pot
nine days old

some like it hot
some like it cold
some like it in the pot
nine days old

This is accompanied with hand movements:

Slap thighs, slap hands together, slap partners hands

Peas (slap thighs) porridge (slap hands together) hot (slap partners hands)

hand movements same for second line

Peas (slap thighs) porridge (slap hands together) in the (slap partners alternate hand) pot (slap hands) nine (slap partners OTHER alternate hand) days (slap hands)
old (slap partners hands)


10:02 AM  
Blogger RennyBA said...

Sorry I can't help you with the rhythm:-(
But: Lutefisk from Norway is served:-)

10:37 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Bluebells, cockle shells
Eevy, ivy over...(skipping)

On the mountain stands a lady
Who she is I do not know
All she wears is gold and silver
All she needs is a fine young man
So I call in..(name of a skipper to join you)

Polly put the kettle on
Missed a beat you're out.

Ordinary movsies
clapsies, Bowsies...(ball)

High, low, medium slow
Jolly peppers (?)

The spades go
two...together...forget the rest of this clapping thing.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

The earliest I remember that showed me children were mean was back in kindergarten:

"Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
All the boys are mental retarded!"

This would be sung by girls running through the schoolyard, they would be followed by boys singing the same )just substituting girls for boys).

11:27 AM  

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