Did You Sing the Rhyme “Rubber Dolly”?

Ann Marie wrote me looking for information about the “Rubber Dolly” rhyme…

Hi Lisa:

Are you familiar with the rhyme entitled “Rubber Dolly?” It starts out:

My mother told me
If I were goodie
That she would buy me
A rubber dolly . . .

These lyrics pop up in an essay I am working on. Specifically, I need to know if this is an American Clapping Song, a Rhyme, a Jump Rope Song, or . . . something else!

Thank for your time.

Best,

Ann Marie
Cleveland, Ohio

I found information that “Rubber Dolly” was a jump rope rhyme that was popular in the 1950’s.

Here’s a longer version:

My mother told me
If I were goodie
That she would buy me
A rubber dolly.

My auntie* told her,
I kissed a soldier,
Now she won’t buy me
A rubber dolly.

*Or sister

Some kids also did hand clapping games to “Rubber Dolly”. (I think jump rope rhymes and hand clapping rhymes are often interchangeable.) There’s also a fiddle tune based on the melody of the rhyme. Ella Fitzgerald sang a jazz song based on “My Mother Told Me” too.

If anyone grew up with the rhyme, please share your version if it’s different, also let us know if you played any specific game with it.

Thanks in advance!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 at 4:29 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, English, Holidays Around the World, Jump Rope Rhymes, Languages, Mama Lisa, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Rubber Dolly, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

76 Responses to “Did You Sing the Rhyme “Rubber Dolly”?”

  1. Barbara Huet de Guerville Says:

    My bad – it’s Lincoln Chase and it was The Light Crust Doughboys, a Western swing band, who recorded it in 1939. Bob Wills started with this group.
    pancocojams.blogspot.com has a terrific post dated August 9, 2012 : 3, 6, 9 the goose drank wine, the clapping song (Rhyme, Song Lyrics, & Video Examples) that trace the song to England and Sotland.
    One of her most authoritative commentators is Stephen Gradham who shares one English version and another from Chamber’s Popular Rhymes of Scotland.

  2. Maria Says:

    My version is the same as Becky Kemp’s, but with an extra Clap, Clap at the end:

    Becky Kemp Says:
    October 3rd, 2009 at 10:50 pm
    The version I grew up with went like this:

    My mama told me,
    if I was goodie,
    that she would buy me
    a Rubber Dolly.
    My Auntie told her,
    I kissed a soldier,
    now she won’t buy me
    a rubber dolly.

    3, 6, 9 the goose drank wine,
    the monkey chewed tobacco on the street car line,
    the line broke, the monkey got choked,
    and they all went to heaven in a little row boat,
    Clap, Clap.

  3. Barb Nichols-Alleman Says:

    My niece just brought it up today. Said my sister used to sing it to her. She couldn’t remember, so I sang it to her. My sister and I knew it as a clapping song: My mommy told me if I was goody That she would buy me a rubber dolly My auntie told her I kissed a soldier Now she won’t buy me a rubber dolly. 3,6,9 The goose drank wine Monkey’s sittin’ on the streetcar line The line broke Monkey got choked And they all went to heaven in a little row boat. Clap back (while stepping backward & clapping hands under each leg). Clap back……

  4. Glenn Gibbons Says:

    From buck private with 11th Engineers in Panama in 1939-
    Do I want that dolly?
    You bet I do,
    Oh but that soldier
    I want him too.

  5. Michelle Says:

    I remember mum singing me a different version in 1960’s Australia. It started with the first line as a single note chant
    “I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star
    My mother told me
    When I was older
    That she would buy me
    A rubber dolly
    But when I told her
    I was gonna be a soldier
    She wouldn’t buy me
    That rubber dolly”

    Strange regional variations!

  6. Maleah Says:

    I always thought it was rubber jhonny and I never knew what it meant

  7. Connie Reed Says:

    We sang it as a clapping song:

    My mommy told me
    If I was goody
    That she would buy me
    A rubber dolly

    My auntie told her
    I kissed a soldier
    Now she won’t buy me
    A rubber dolly

    Three, six, nine
    The good drank wine
    The monkey chewed tobacco
    On the streetcar line

    The line broke
    The monkey got choked
    They all went to heaven
    In a little rowboat

    I was just trying to teach my granddaughter, and she thinks I’m nuts!

  8. Kal Says:

    @Maleah
    A rubber Johnny is an English term for a condom

  9. Marjorie McCarthy marjoriemccarthy@comcast.net Says:

    In Scotland when I was small in the 1950’s my grandma who was from Aberdeen, Scotland sang a song I always thought was from one of the world wars. It went:

    My mama told me
    that she would buy me
    a rubber dolly
    to call my own
    but someone told her
    I kissed a soldier
    now she’s not going
    to buy my doll.

    Just googled these words on impulse and came to your site.

  10. Margaret Jones Says:

    In South London, UK around about 1949-50s we sang it as both a clapping and skipping song as we played out in the street, no-one else here seems to have sung the last part, maybe we were an optimistic bunch, playing in post-war London streets, we would sing:

    My mummy told me that she would buy me
    A rubber dolly, if I was goodie
    But when I told her I kissed a solder
    She wouldn’t buy me a rubber dolly
    But when I told her it was my daddy
    She went and bought me a rubber dolly.

  11. William Bramhall Says:

    My grandma used to sing her version to me at bed time. Soft and kind…not a clapping song.

    My mama told me
    she had a penny
    And she would buy me, a rubber dolly.
    But don’t you tell her, I’ve got a feller
    Or she won’t buy me,
    A rubber dolly

  12. Gary Roberts Says:

    You probably wouldn’t want to publish it, but there is a slightly naughtier version of the chorus that I have heard. It goes like this:

    369
    The goose drink wine
    The monkey chew tobacco on the street-car line
    The line cracked (some say “snapped”)
    The monkey got racked
    They all went to Heaven in a pink Cadillac

    This possibly is just a very regional variation that some kids in my area thought up, but I’m not certain.

  13. Jane Says:

    Couple of thoughts – Is there a possibility that this originates as far back to times of slavery? – based on Americanisms – Streetcar. It was certainly used for clapping / skipping in the UK.
    And / or
    from times / various civil or world conflict – kissing soldiers……
    – with word variations – goose has a sexual connotation – possibly referring to somebody fat and drinking wine. Rubber dolly / johnny – known as a condom
    You can manipulate the meanings to scenarios

  14. Sabrina Says:

    My great grandmother would sing this to me while snuggling at bed time. She told me her father sang it to her when she was little, in Swedish since he was from Sweden.

    My daddy told me
    If I be good-y
    That he would buy me
    A rubber doll-y
    No don’t you tell him
    I have a feller
    Or he won’t buy me
    A rubber doll-y

  15. Joe Says:

    My mother sang the song “Rubber Dolly” to me before I started to Kindergarten in 1945 just before I turned 5 years old. She was born in 1902 & said the first time she heard it was probably around 1907 when she heard a boy going down the street singing the song with the line “now don’t you tell her I got a feller or she won’t buy me that rubber dolly.”

    She had a fantastic true photographic memory as I remember one of her friends showing her a facsimile of a McGuffey’s 3rd Level Reader she had used in grammar school. She started reading one of the stories aloud but soon put down the book but kept reciting the story. I picked up the book and followed her for the next three or four pages; she did not miss a word! She said seeing the book after close to 65 years or more actually triggered the book in her memory, and she saw the pages in the book in her mind’s eye and turned them as she recited the story. I would not have believed it if I had not personally seen it.

    So, I vouch for her saying she first heard the song Rubber Dolly around 1907.

  16. Harold Tiernan Says:

    This is the way I heard it as a kid:

    My momma told me, if I be goody,
    That she would buy me a rubber dolly.
    But if I told her I I had a feller,
    She wouldn’t buy me a rubber dolly.

    That’s as much as I can remember.
    Back around 1943-45. Country-western song

  17. Benjamin Titmus Says:

    In the process of writing, I required the lyrics for this song-cum-chant. Naturally, I couldn’t remember them and sat for half a day attempting to type the correct series of words for Google to find it for me.

    Eventually, Google routed me here. I can’t believe how many years this thread has continued for, so thought I would add my story regarding this interesting ditty.

    In 1998 when I was ten, in year five at junior school in England, I went on a trip to Barmouth. Fifteen of us travelled in the minibus, accompanied by our teacher, Mrs Pennycooke. There was a distinct segregation between the boys and the girls (boys at the back and girls at the front) because of course, at that age, we were scared to engage with the opposite sex.

    Whilst the boys did boyish things, the girls did girlish things. One such thing was to pat hands and sing this song. Eventually, the boys caught on, learned the words and acted as a sort of baritone backing to the girls and their clapping. This is where I learned the song and we sung:

    My mommy told me,
    If I was goodie,
    That she would buy me,
    A rubber dolly.

    My auntie told her,
    I kissed a soldier,
    Now she won’t buy me,
    A rubber dolly.

    Well… (prolonged through a series of intricate claps)
    A three six nine,
    The goose drank wine,
    The monkey chewed tobacco
    On the Sweet Caroline, (street car line, I now know)
    The line broke,
    The monkey got choked,
    And they all went to heaven
    In a little row boat,
    Clap hands,
    Clap your hands,
    A summin summin summin, we don’t know the words.

    The last three lines are genuine and we would all end up laughing, presumably because we didn’t know the words. I wrongly presumed there was more to this.

    Interestingly, what seem to be the two parts to this song, thematically, don’t tie together and yet have somehow ended up together.

    Either way, thank you for helping me to remember this nostalgic song and what was a beautifully simple childhood, travelling along the Welsh roads to Barmouth.

  18. Shi Says:

    In Kenya this song went…

    My mother told me
    That she will buy me
    A rubber dolly
    A rubber D.O.L.L.Y

    But when I told her
    I kissed a soldier
    She went and bought me
    A rubber J.O.L.L.Y

    (Jolly being slang for condoms :( )
    Though at that time (was in primary school (grade 1-7) we did not even now what it meant but we loved the song. We jumped rope to it. Sweet memories :)

    Cheers!!

  19. anonymous Says:

    My mom remembers this from her childhood (late 1920s-early 1930s, southern U.S., singing only, no clapping or rope skipping involved). Her version was slightly different at the end:

    My mommy told me
    If I was goody
    That she would buy me
    A rubber dolly.

    My aunty told her
    I kissed a soldier
    Now she won’t buy me
    That rubber dolly.

    I love that dolly —
    I do, I do.
    But oh, that feller —
    I love him too!

  20. Sarah Says:

    I had heard it with sister only like sister got jealous and lied and said she kissed a soldier but I have always sung it like those singers that would go sing for soldiers in the 2nd world War I think lol

  21. Debbie Says:

    This song just popped into my head from my memory when I was a little girl. I’m 64 now and I still remember the song.

  22. Mrs. X. Says:

    My Mother told me
    If I were goody,
    That she would buy me
    A rubber dolly.

    But someone told her
    I kissed a soldier,
    Now she won’t buy me
    a rubber dolly.

    And now we’re married
    And have 3 children,
    And there beside me
    Is my rubber dolly.

    (My sisters and I did the clapping game to this song in the 1950’s & 60’s. Thanks for the memories!)

  23. Linda T. Says:

    This is how we used to chant this in the 1950’s in coastal Massachusetts:

    My Mother told me-me-me-me
    If I were good-y-y-y-y
    That she would buy me-me-me-me
    A rubber doll-y-y-y-y

    But someone told her-her-her-her
    I kissed a soldier-er-er-er
    Now she won’t buy me-me-me-me
    A rubber doll-y-y-y-y

    The rest (3-6-9, The goose drank wine, etc.)
    seems very familiar now that I see it, but I had not remembered it till now.

    We learned it from kids that were older, and never thought about whether it made any sense, where it originated or what it might mean…

  24. adri leslie Says:

    The hand clapping game in 1950’s Brooklyn–had a third verse:
    So, I got married
    and had a baby
    and now I don’t need
    a rubber dolly.
    —it also said, “then someone told her, I kissed a soldier.”

    really enjoyed your site

  25. Joni Robertson Says:

    This is how I remember it.

    My mommy told me,
    If I was goody,
    That she would buy me,
    A rubber dolly.

    My auntie told her,
    I kissed a soldier,
    Now she won’t buy me,
    A rubber dolly.

    3,6,9 the goose drink wine,
    The monkey smoked tobacco,
    On the car street line,
    The line broke.
    The monkey got choked.
    We all went to heaven
    In a little row boat.

    Tat tat, Tat tat.

    2,6,9 I feel so fine,
    Got a little drunk,
    Bought a little punk,
    We all went to jail,
    In a black & white pail.

    Tat tat, Tat tat.

  26. Kimberly Says:

    My mother sang it to me like this..

    My mother told me if I was good e that she would buy me a rubber dolly
    My auntie told her
    I kissed a soldier
    Now she won’t buy me
    A rubber dolly. ….. Followed by the 3 6 9 the goose drank wine song.

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