Old Sayings and Rhymes from the 1940’s

I love to hear the different ways people spoke in the past. It’s similar to how I enjoy hearing different languages. You can imagine life in another time or place.

Quite a while back, Arlene Charest wrote me with some rhymes and sayings she remembered from growing up in the 1940’s. I felt these are important to try to preserve. Here are a couple, along with what Arlene had to say about the times…

I know so many rhymes and sayings from 1940 and during the war when we could roller skate down the center of a no longer busy street (no gas, no rubber, no young men), holding hands and singing, “Coming in on a wing on a prayer…”. We did a lot of ball bouncing:

One Two Three a Nation,
I observed my confirmation,
On the day of decoration,
One Two Three a Nation.

The other one was:

“A” my name is Arlene,
My husband’s name is Alfred,
We live in Albany
And we eat Apples
, and so on through the alphabet.

My grandmother had an old victrola with the wind up handle and, “It’s a long way to Tiperarie; it’s a long way to go; it’s a long way to Tiperarie, to the sweetest girl I know…” and of course, “There’ll be blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover” which everybody old knows. -Arlene

Arlene mentioned other sayings in an earlier email:

“Go up to your kind policeman; he’ll tell you just where to go.”

-From NYC school system, to keep children from getting frightened if they got lost, around 1940.

Also, my husband remembers his uncle singing a rhyme:

“Sitting on a curbstone chewing Pepsin gum….
Go on you big fat lobster, said the little bum.”

And that brings me to expressions like “Eh Gads and Saints Preserve Us and For Heaven’s Sake” – nobody, boy or girl ever swore that I can recall, but there were many funny exclamations like these.

There were wonderful rope jumping rhymes and I am trying to bring them back to mind – if I had a word or two, I know it would come. Maybe one of your readers knows part of a phrase and I could then remember.

Just tickling our memories. -Arlene

If anyone would like to share any rhymes or songs from the 1930’s and ’40’s to help Arlene remember, please feel free to comment below or email me.


UPDATE: We found some of these songs below. You can find the lyrics to Go up to your kind policeman; he’ll tell you just where to go at the link with a recording by Tiny Tim.

This article was posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2007 at 4:43 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Ball Bouncing Rhymes, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, English, Languages, Proverbs, Rhymes by Theme, Sayings, Sayings from the 1940's, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

138 Responses to “Old Sayings and Rhymes from the 1940’s”

  1. Martha Says:

    My grandfather was always saying to me when I would wish for things in the 1940’s as a grade schooler, “If wishes were fishes, we’d all have a fry.” He had all kinds of sayings like this, but I’ll have to put my thinking cap on to come up with more.

    Thanks for a wonderful website!

  2. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing. That’s a great one!


  3. Nelda Says:

    Looking for an old rhyme that goes “When God gave out hair I thought He said …… ” it was making fun of yourself or someone, sometime in the late forties and fifties.

  4. Debbie Harris Says:

    Would like to know if anyone knows of an old ryhme or poem that starts out Mary Marlar jumped in the fire
    The fire was so hot she jumped in the pot
    The pot was so hot she jumped in the crack

    I may have some of the sentences out of order and there are more sentences, but they elude me.

    My Grandmother used to say that to me long years ago.

    Anyone’s help would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Maggie Towne Says:

    How funny, I was looking for the lyrics to a song sung in childhood, and I think someone here knows it too!

    They must have put out a book of safety songs in the 1940’s, and it included a song that went something like this:

    Go up to that kind police man, the very first one you meet,
    and simply say, I’ve lost my way I cannot find my street

    but I know my name and address, and telephone number too…

    If anyone could help me fill in the blanks, that would be great…

    What I am really looking for, is the lyrics to the song about the oil burner:

    Outside, the weather is damp and cold, the wind has brought a storm
    But the oil burner purrs and purrs and purrs and the house is snug and warm.
    A click and very soon on it goes, though no one does a think….
    ….how I love to here it sing.

    Can anyone help me fill in the blanks on these songs??

  6. Lauren Says:

    My grandma used to sing me to sleep with an old song-

    ” I love you, a bushel and a peck,
    a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck,
    a hug around the neck and a barrel and a peep,
    barrel and a peep and I’m talkin in my sleep,
    about you…. about you….
    I love you, a bushel and a peck,
    you bet your pretty neck I do!”

  7. Frank Says:

    My Grandfather would always say, “People in Hell want Ice Water”

    And when I would say “Hey Grandpa! where are you going?” he would say “Pigs ass for a ham sandwich” LOL, That’s my Grandpa! God Bless him.

  8. Maggie Says:

    When my brother and I would say “I want….” my dad would tell us……
    “You might want horns but you will probably die butt-headed”

  9. Maggie Says:

    My dad was always whistling a tune as he worked and when I would try to whistle like he did my grandmother would say…

    ” Whistling girls, like crowing hens, will always come to some bad end.”

    (never have figured out what she thought was bad about whistling!”

  10. anne Says:

    my brother had a book when he was small in it was a rhyme hes just died age 61
    ball ball bouncy
    bingos in the bath
    bunnys eating lettuces
    up the garden path
    moucies in the larder
    gee gees rather lame
    ball ball bouncie
    lets have a game

    anyone know it !

  11. Gayle Says:

    My mom used to sing this “lullaby” to us and I sing it to my grandchildren:

    There was a little dutch boy who went into a store. He bought a pound of sausages and laid them on the floor. And then the little dutch boy whistled up a tune and all the little sausages danced around the room, boom boom. There was another verse, but I won’t add that here.

  12. Patt Awlex Says:

    Does anyone know the one about “…Musolini fell in the grease…” It was a fairly long jump rope rhyme. Thanks.

  13. susan lambert Says:

    yes i remember “ball ball boucey” so well. my mum taught it to me when i was small, i taught it to my boys and now they are teaching it to theirs but i’ve never seen it in print, which is why i’ve just googled it and found this site!

  14. Fonda Gorden Says:

    All of us kids use to tell each ;
    I’m the boss applesauce
    Don’t be wise bubble eyes
    I’ll cut you down to peanut size

    And Mom would get mad at us kids I mean we knew she was really mad when she’d say

    I brought you into this world I’ll take you out

    And when Dad was mad he would say randy, dolores, tom. then my name

  15. Sarah Hilton Says:

    I can relate to so many of these stories, sayings, etc. When we, as children use to ask my dad where he was going, he’d say, “I’m going to see a man about a horse”; or, “I’m going to open a keg of nails.” Once I asked him what the red and green flashing lights on an airplane in the night sky meant, and he told me it meant “Don’t chew bubble-gum.” I can’t look at a plane flying at night without thinking, “Don’t chew bubblegum!” My mom used the expression, “I’m going to yank you bald-headed” when she was mad at one of us kids, and she’d call us by our full names..like “Sarah Ellen!”. She also told us that we’d “drive a wooden woman crazy”. ………and the songs? We used to sit outside in Summer, watching the fireflies; we’d sing songs like She’ll Be Coming “Round the Mountain, Goodnight Irene, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Wait Until the Sunshines Nellie…..wonderful memories…..

  16. Sue Russell Says:

    I remember my dad singing “So long, Oolong, how long you gonna be gone? Now don’t stay too long, Oolong, hurry back home!” Where do you think he ever got that?! Also, starting out on a trip he would hurry us into the car with, “Let’s begin to commence to go.” He lived to be 6 days short of 94 and to the end always had a comment to make us laugh.

  17. Lisa Says:

    That’s neat! If you’d like to record it, I can post your recording here so we can hear the intonation!

    Mama Lisa

  18. Barbara McIntire Says:

    Anybody remember this song from perhaps 40’s or early 50’s.
    Bless my daddy, my dear dear daddy.
    He’s the nicest daddy in the world.
    When we have good weather, we go out in the sun.
    We play together and we have lots and lots of fun.
    He buys me popcorn and ice cream sodas.
    Then I fall asleep upon his knee.
    I love daddy.
    My dear dear daddy.
    And my daddy loves me…

    We had that on a 45rpm in the late 50’s. I thought it was sung by Patty Page but it’s not listed as one of her songs.

  19. Paul Says:

    My grandfather used to say…it’s like wipin your butt on a wagon wheel, there’s no end to it!

  20. Brooke Says:

    Response to old lady mirlar.. I also heard this on an eppisode of Andy Griffith.. The old crazy mountain guy quoted it.. LOL

    Old Lady Mirlar She Jumped In the Fire (pronounced Far)
    The Far was so hot she jumped in the pot
    The Pot was so black she jumped in the crack
    The Crack was so high she jumped to the sky
    The Sky was so blue she jumped in a canoe
    The Canoe was so deep she fell in a creek
    The Creek was so Shallow (Pronounced Shaler)
    She went to the tower
    The Tower was so Rotten she fell in the cotton
    The cotton was so white she peeled a bark
    The Bark was so brown She went to Town
    The Town was so clean she found a bean
    The Bean was so red she combed her hair and wished her self dead..

    LOL I believe that is how it goes.. My grandmother taught me that when I was just a little girl. She passed away about 10 years ago and I never really had the chance to write all the wonderful things down she used to tell us. She was born in 1912 and grew up during the depression.. No TV gosh prob up until my mom was a teenager or older.. So that was their entertainment.

    Another one she used to tell us was
    You pull up to a church
    With a great big steaple
    Open the door and there are a heap ole people
    Some a wicker some a waker some the color of brown tobaker….(Pronounced with the Short a sound.. )
    What are they…
    Bees.. LOL Never make much sense..

  21. Brooke Says:

    Combed her head.. Not hair.. LOL sorry broke the rhyme scheme…

  22. Tiffany Smith Says:

    My grandfather used to sing I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck while carrying me for a walk. I would cling so tightly to him around his neck. He just passed away last week and seeing that poem is sooo comforting. I LOVE U DziaDzia

  23. Mary Says:

    My mom and dad always did sing alongs on long car rides, and we went every weekend to visit relatives so we sang a lot. One of my favorites my dad sang but nobody else ever heard of it, it goes;
    Outside the rain was fallen down, and I was feelin blue;
    Outside the wind was blown round, and she was lonesome 2, 3, 4, 5
    Outside we heard the crash, and she sighed;
    Though she knew it wasn’t right, still she let me stay the night;
    yeah she did, sure she did,

    We would all crack up laughing at that one, and it didn’t matter how many times we heard it, it always made us laugh.

  24. Chelsey Says:

    When I was doing the wrong thing, my Pop would say “Chelsey! You’re driving me up the wall!”

    Also, my Nan always said “For heavens sake” or “For goodness sake” when she was upset or mad about something.

    They brought me up with these songs:

    “How much is that doggy in the window. Run rabbit, run. Pick up your troubles in your old kit bag.”

    Hope these brought back a few memories.

  25. Arlene Says:

    Looking for sayings from WWII when happened onto this wonderful site. I remember my grandfather always responded to us kids asking where something was with the phrase, “Up in Lizzie’s room behind the meat ax!” I can still hear my youngest cousin at age 5 asking with VERY wide eyes where THAT was! My grandmother always said, “What in the sam hill!”
    Love the site and it made me laugh!

  26. Larry Fishbach Says:

    I came to this site to see if I could get a copy of the lyrics to the “Songs of Safety”. I didn’t feel like copying them from the recording as I was able to obtain an audio tape of the original 3 disc recording from the Library of Congress. They sold us a copy of the songs on audio tape with permission to make 1 copy only for my sister. Some of you may remember songs about iceskating, being lost,hot and cold water,Let the ball roll etc. Anyone interested can probably contact the Library and purchase their own copy.

  27. richard Says:

    does any one know of a rhyme that contains ‘muscles with charlies on their backs’

  28. Larry Fishbach Says:

    In response to Maggie Towne . My sister and I were able to locate the Songs of Safety in the Library of Congress. They made us two tape copies from the original records under the condition we would not make additional copies, I can’t remember the fee but it was on the order of $20. If you send me an e-mail at lfishbach@earthlink.net I will copy the lyrics for a few of them that you request. You could also contact them to make you copies.

  29. linda chambers Says:

    My grandmother’s favorite cuss words: “My stars!”

    She would not allow cards (of any kind) or dice in her home; they were the ‘tools of the devil’ and to play with them was to ‘invite the devil into your home’. Therefore we couldn’t play Old Maid, Go Fish or even Monopoly or Candyland at her house: to throw dice for any reason was ‘a form of gambling’.

    No one was ever allowed to work on Sundays. Even if it was something you liked to do; ‘it was still work and it was against the will of God.” It was especially bad form to go fishing on Sundays. (I suppose that was work, too.) And you could go to hell for having anything to do with liquor or beer, much less drink it, any day of the week. She would never allow tobacco in the house, nor did you want her to catch you dancing -even ‘play’ dancing.

    On the patriarchial side of the family they drank beer AND fished on Sundays, so we kids, prayed for them a lot, worried that they’d go to hell. They also danced occasionally and listened to the radio freely.

    Back at the farm, canning was a big deal: they canned soups, meats, tomatoes, beans, jellies, peppers, beans, peas, corn, grape juice, you name it; they canned it, new potatoes, apples, pears, figs, berries. Onions were stored under the porch where they wouldn’t go bad and would always be fresh.

    Where, oh where has my little dog gone?
    Oh where, oh where can he be?
    With his ears cut short and his tail cut long,
    Where, oh where can he be?

    To rowdy children:
    “You kids would worry the horns off a brass monkey.”
    (I suspect the word ‘horns’ was a substitute for another part of the anatomy.”)

    Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah,
    Someone’s in the kitchen, I know-oh-oh-oh!
    Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah,
    Strummin’ on the old banjo.
    Chorus: Fee Fi, Fiddley-eye-oh,
    Fee Fi, Fiddley-eye-oh-oh
    Fee Fi, Fiddley-eye-oooh!
    Strummin’ on the old banjo!

  30. laurie Says:

    was wondering if anyone had heard of a little story or peom that starts like this:
    A chocolate bear and a chocolate mouse lived in a chocolate house…

    that’s all I can remember and my grandma used to recite it to me when I was very young..

    anyone know the rest or what it is from?


  31. Bonnie Barton Says:

    I remember at the age of 5, having a record that played “Green for go, red for stop. Be your own little traffic cop. Don’t cross streets until you’ve seen the traffic lights turn to green”. I can’t remember the rest of it, and haven’t been able to locate the song online. I have 19 grandkids and 9 great grands I’d love to sing it to. If anyone knows the words to the safety song, I’d appreciate it more than you know.

    I remember so many others that I’ve sung to my babies. My favorite is “A, you’re adorable, B, you’re so beautiful, C, you’re a cutie full of charms….” . All my kids (especially the girls) just love it.

  32. Lee Says:

    “A Bushel and a Peck” is from “Guys and Dolls,” a lovely piece from the golden age of Broadway musicals. You may truly enjoy it, the movie’s got Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.

  33. Jodi Oviedo Says:

    I have been trying to remember a song my Mom would sing to me and my sister in the early 60’s (I’m 52 now) that went,
    “Little miss one, going on two” and that’s all I know.
    I would love to know the origin and the rest of the lyrics.

  34. Lisa Says:

    Carol Woodier sent more of the Policeman song:

    Just saw this online and I know where it came from. I went to kindergarten in Brooklyn, PS 92 and there we were taught a song I could sing you. The words were:

    Remember your name and address
    And telephone number, too
    So if, someday, you lose your way
    You’ll know just what to do
    Walk up to that kind policeman
    The very first one you meet
    And simply say I’ve lost my way
    And cannot find my street
    (forgot some lines here, but it ends)
    …and he will be kind
    And help you to find
    The dear ones who wait for you.

    If anyone can share the full song, please let us know!

  35. Lisa Says:

    Patricia Duval wrote:

    The rhymes I remember from my childhood were sung as I played with an Indian Rubber ball I am now 70 yrs old One of them went like this My mother gave me fifty cents to see the elephant jump the fence. She jumped so high she reached the sky And never came back til the 4th of July. there is a long one I remember that was played by bouncing a ball against a wall and saying a long rhyme at the same time Patti

  36. dave Says:

    Great collection of songs and sayings! Brings back many great memories of my grandparents and great aunts and uncles. Most of them lived in NYC or Brooklyn at one point or another, so I remember this one, about “thirty purple birds” which appears elsewhere on the web (but not quite the way I remember it). You have to say it with an old Brooklyn accent!:

    Der was toity poiple boids sittin’ on a coib
    Boipin’ and choipin’ an’ eatin’ doity woims
    When along came Boit (Burt) and a skoit (skirt) named Goit (Gert)
    Who woiked in a shoit factory in Joisey.
    When Boit and de skoit named Goit
    Saw de toity poiple boids, sittin’ on de coib,
    Boipin’ and choipin’ an’ eatin’ doity woims,
    Boy was dey petoibed!

    I hope you can get it! Also, the reason I got to this site was that I was looking to see if anyone had posted an old song I remember my parents and grandparents singing, and Arlene has sent you part of it. The whole thing goes likes this:

    “A roving policeman spied a little bum,
    Sitting on a curb stone, chewing pepsi gum.
    Said the policeman, “Won’t you give me some?”
    “Not by your tin badge,” said the little bum-ditty-bum-bum
    Bum Bum!”

    I uploaded it to Youtube so you can hear the tune:

  37. Lisa Says:

    That’s awesome Dave! Can you make a video of 30 purple birds too? I’ll post it! Cheers! Mama Lisa

  38. Jessica Says:

    I love this old sayings, even though i’m 19.

  39. Karen Says:

    I’m a writer and I’m trying to find the quote that says something like, “Don’t date someone you wouldn’t mate.” My mom always used to say that to me. I don’t think I have the exact quote. Can someone help me out?

  40. Sadler Says:

    @Sue Russell: The, “So long, Oolong” song is an old song that was originally sung by Frank Crumit. Later on, Fred Astaire did a version of it with Red Skelton. You can watch the two of them sing it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZkQmTszzN8&feature=related

    It’s a great glimpse into mid 20th century culture.


  41. A poiple boid Says:

    Toity poiple boids, sittin’ on da coib, choipin, and boipin, and eatin doity woims,
    along came moit the sqoit(he woiks in a shoit factory in joisy) And when he saw those toity poiple boids, sittin’ on da coib, choipin, and boipin, and eatin doity woims, boy… was he distoibed!

  42. Coralee Says:

    To bed, to bed, said sleepy head.
    Terry a while said Joe.

    Anyone know the whole rhyme? An old man in the nursing home that I work at says it every evening when I put him to bed. He doesn’t remember any more though.. It would be nice to find it out and say it to him and see if he remembers once it is being said… Thanks :)

  43. Lisa Says:

    Hi Coralee,

    There are different versions of To Bed, To Bed that you can find at the link. The gist of it is:

    “Come, let’s to bed,”
    Says Sleepy-head;
    “Tarry a while,” says Slow.
    Sleepyhead, Slow and Greedy
    “Put on the pot,”
    Says the Greedy one,
    “Let’s sup before we go.”

    I hope this helps!

    Mama Lisa

  44. Ken Says:

    I remember a play on words about Chickasaw from when I was a small boy:

    My father went to Chickasaw
    To see the biggest saw you ever saw
    If I saw the saw that father saw
    I saw the biggest saw in Chickasaw

  45. Teri Sexton Says:

    Thanks Dave for “de twoity poiple boids”, my mom taught me that when I was a kid, still can see her saying it and laughing that little kid laugh and smile as if she was still a kid. (I’m 53 now and it just makes me smile)

  46. Melody Says:

    I am trying to find the words to a song my mom used to sing to us in the 50’s. All I can remember was it had the words beely um bumb bump, beely um bump bump here we go in daddy’s old car. It was the last thing my sister heard my mom sing as my sister lay in her hospital bed dying from the treatment of colon cancer. The doctors said that it was the treatment and not the cancer that killed her because she was just too petite. She even sang along a little. I would be enormously grateful. TIA

  47. Bannah Hanover Says:

    My Dad taught my daughter this. Something Gravy, English Navy, Stinkem, Stankem, Buck? I think there is more to this saying, but I can’t remember. Can anyone?

  48. Lisa Says:

    There are many versions of that rhyme. It’s a counting-out rhyme for choosing players in a game (like who goes first or who is “it”). Here are some versions I found:

    One-ery, u-ery, ickery, Ann,
    Fillison, follison, Nicholas John;
    Quevy, quavy, English navy,
    Stincktum, stancktum, buck!

    One-ery, u-ery, ickery, Ann,
    Fillisy, fallasy, Nicholas John,
    Quevy, quavy, English navy,
    Stringelum, strangelum, jolly co buck.

    Ery, iry, ickery, Ann,
    Fillisy, follosy, Nicholas John;
    Quevy, quavy, English navy,
    Stinkulum, stankulum, buck!

    Onery, ory, ickery, Ann,
    Filisan, folisan, Nicholas John.
    Quivy, quavy, English navy,
    Stinkelum, stankelum, buck!

  49. Jeane Linthicum Says:

    There was a short “little girl” poems that we recited as children. I can only remember one specific line from one “I don’t think I am cute, but who am I to argue with (???, can’t remember the specific # that goes here ). It goes on to list talents etc always ending with “but who am I to argue with ?” There were other little ditty type poems but this is the only one I can remember even part of. This was in the early 40’s . We lived in deep East Texas at the time. Anybody remember any of these? Please.

  50. Kathy Says:

    ok was looking for the right phrase for this saying along with my sister while she is recovering from surgery. It goes. As i was walking up the ? (cant remember what goes here) i looked out the hazel gazel spied bom backum in the world of wickum wackum called tom tackum to get bom backum out of the world of wickum wackun. Can anyone tell what I was going up.

  51. Ron Miller Says:

    My father used to sing at bedtime, “Go to bed and cover up your head with your old gray beard a shakin’.”

  52. Ron Miller Says:

    Saying I used to hear when I was growing up were, “Well, I’ll be John Brown,” “I’ll be a yellow dog,” and “I double-dog dare you!” I use all of these phrases in my novel, “Callie Kinser of Brush Creek”, out in Sept. I love these old sayings. I hope they never die.

  53. Rhonda Miller Says:

    Went to the river and couldn’t get across. Jumped on a gator cause I thought it was a horse. May have been more but I don’t remember.

  54. Jim Foster Says:

    On the final day of school in 1947 when I was in sixth grade, we sang a song entitled “I’ll See You in September.” As I remember, the last verse concluded as follows:

    “Goodbye (or farewell) to all the happy times,
    I’ll see you in September.”

    I’ve been searching for the words to this song for over 38 years to no avail. Can ANYONE out there help? If so, I would be most grateful.

    Thank you.

  55. Lisa Says:

    There’s a song called “See You in September” from The Happenings. Lyrics:




  56. Lois Moore Says:

    My fourth grade teacher would recite a rhyme with the line, and the little elf said take two, take two (cookies). I can’t remember the rest. Does anyone out there remember the rest?

  57. Lauretta Serna Says:

    My mother used to recite a poem about never wanting to be a man for then I never —— my —-and Day. Does anyone know it?

  58. Timothy M Says:

    My mother is visiting and remembering a rhyme her father used to say. It was full of US City and state names and she remembers it being quite long, but can only remember snippets of it:

    “There was a girl who lived in Maine
    She used to Bangor hair”

    It had city and state names throughout and ended:

    Walla Walla Washington
    Della’s going to the fair
    If I wear my New Jersey
    What will Della Wear?

    This would have been in the 40s. Her father was originally from Maine.

  59. Lisa Says:

    Is this the song you’re looking for Timothy?

    Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware?
    Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware?
    Oh, what did Delaware, boys? Oh, what did Delaware?
    I ask you now as a personal friend, what did Delaware?

    She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey.
    She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey.
    She wore her New Jersey, boys. She wore her New Jersey.
    I tell you now as a personal friend, she wore her New Jersey.

    Other verse pairs include:

    Oh, what does Iowa? She weighs a Washington.
    Oh, what does Idaho? She hoes her Maryland.
    Oh, what does Tennessee? She sees what Arkansas.
    Oh, where has Oregon? She’s gone to Oklahoma.
    Oh, what did Massa-chew? She chewed her Connecti-cud.
    Oh, how did Flori-die? She died in Missouri.

    Here’s a second version of the song, which appears to go to a
    different tune than the song above.

    What did Delaware, boys?
    What did Delaware?
    What did Delaware, boys?
    What did Delaware?
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    She wore a brand New Jersey,
    That’s what she did wear.

    Why did Cali-phone ya,
    Why did Cali-phone?
    Why did Cali-phone ya,
    Was she all alone?
    She phoned to say “Hawaii”
    She phoned to say (“How-ah-yee”)
    She phoned to say “Hawaii”
    That’s why she did phone.

    Where has Oregon, boys,
    Where has Oregon?
    If you want Alaska,
    (I’ll-ask-a) where she’s gone.
    She went to pay her Texas
    She went to pay her Texas
    She went to pay her Texas,
    That’s where she has gone.

    What did Mississip, boys,
    What did Mississip?
    What did Mississip, boys,
    Through her pretty lips?
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    She sipped a Minna-soda,
    That’s what she did sip.

    How did Wiscon-sin, boys?
    She stole a New-brass-key,
    Too bad that Arkan-saw, boys,
    And so did Tenna-see.
    It made poor Flori-die, boys,
    It made poor Flori-die, you see,
    She died in Missouri, boys,
    She died in Missouri!

    According to Wikipedia, “Delaware” was written by Irving Gordon.

  60. Justin Says:

    I hope I’m not intruding by posting here. But I’ve been trying to think of this song my mother sang as a lullaby when I was a child. I’m also fairly certain hers sang it too.
    Anyway it goes something like

    “There were three bums / three jolly old bums / they traveled the hmmm hm hmm” (don’t remember)

    Then later, something about shoveling coal then “I’d rather go on the bum”

    I can’t find anything that matches what I remember anywhere.
    Thanks in advance.

  61. Ginny Says:

    Trying to remember the words to a “Chant” or “Rhyme” from my school days that went–
    1st grade babies, 2nd day tots, 3rd day angels, 4th day snots. That is as far as I remember. Can anyone finish it for me?

  62. Lisa Says:

    Ginny – is this the one you’re looking for…

    First grade babies
    Second grade tots
    Third grade angels
    Fourth grade snots
    Fifth grade peaches
    Sixth grade plums
    And all the rest are
    Dirty Bums!

  63. Liz Says:

    My mother would always say this quote for a good tongue twister. She would say ‘Bet you can’t say this’ then really fast she would say: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, a peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

  64. Wendy Says:

    I thought perhaps my great uncle had made up this riddle he told me dad when my dad was a kid in the 50’s. However, Kathy’s riddle about the world of wickum wackum was so similar that I suspect there must have been several similar to this one.
    As I was walking around my little whirly wicki wack
    I saw dumb back
    So I called Thumb tack
    To get dumb back
    Out of my little whirly wicki wack
    The answer to the riddle is that a cow was in the corn patch, so the dog was called to get the cow out.
    By the way, I just stumbled across this site but I love it!

  65. Patricia Kerns Says:

    As I went up my lonesome donesome
    I peeped out my limber lee
    There I saw old bony bickum backum
    In my whirley whickum whackum
    I told old Tommy Tickum tackum
    To get old bony bickum backum
    Out of my whirley whickum whackum

    From his room, he looked out the window, saw horse in garden, told dog to chase the horse out.

    Taught to my 4th grade teacher when she was a child by a young “lady” who worked for a family next door to her. Much later,
    I became acquainted with the “lady” who told this to my grandson when we were on a car trip. And much later, my 4th grade teacher wrote it down for me. How old is it, at the very least, 5 generations. Because it was taught to the “lady” by her parents or perhaps her grandparents.

  66. Rachelle Gavlinski Says:

    My grandma used to say a little ditty that ended with:

    “…wrapped it up in brown paper,
    threw it down the elevator and ran like heck.”

    Does anyone know the beginning of this? I think it may have been from a radio program from the 1940s.

  67. Marti Benenfeld Says:

    Hello Lisa, I am looking for a song My grandmother used to sing to me in the 1950s. it goes something like this… when I grow up like a birdie in the tree… Something like that .it has haunted me for years .I cannot find it .I don’t know the lyrics All the Way .I would like to have it so much that I have searched the internet. if you can help I would be most grateful! Thank you very much Marti

  68. Lisa Says:

    Hi Marti,

    It seems like it’s a Shirley Temple song…

    When I grow up
    in a year or two or three,
    I’ll be happy as can be
    like a birdie in a tree.

    You can find the lyrics here and a recording on YouTube here.


  69. Joseph Says:

    Hi, I’m looking for a rhyme my grandad used to recite but unfortunately never wrote it down before he passed. it goes like – Wun lung one me Too lung two by the side of the so lung sea.
    If anyone knows what it is that would be amazing!

  70. Ken Dodge Says:

    Ice skating is nice skating,
    But remember this
    When you’re ice skating,
    Never skate where
    The ice is thin.
    The ice will crack and you’ll
    Fall right in.
    And come up with icicles
    Under your chin,
    If you skate where the ice is thin.

  71. Shirley Says:

    To Jodi Oviedo
    I read your question and Little Miss One, going on two is from the movie Little Miss Sunshine

    The words are:

    Little Miss One, going on two
    Gee but its fun being daddy to you
    Watching you grow and trying to walk
    The first thing you know you’ll be able to talk
    Little Miss One, going on two
    Life’s just begun smiling brightly on you For one tiny kiss my worlds at your feet
    My armful of bliss adorably sweet
    Now your mommy is so beautiful And you look more like her everyday
    But the laugh in your eyes when you’ve had a surprise Looks like you dad in a way
    Little Miss Queen when you’re sixteen All of the boys will be stealing the scene
    Till then I’m the one who’ll take care of you
    Little Miss One, going on two

    by Paul Herbert and Eddie Oliver

    Hope this is what you were looking for

  72. Kit Goodwin Says:

    Anyone know or recognise this?

    A silly goose, on apple juice, refreshed herself one day,
    And then among her friends so young, she wandered on her way.

    There is more, but Mom can’t remember it…

  73. Jena Says:

    My dad always said this one:
    As I was going across the London bridge, I met my brother Will, he had a cat with nine tails. Slip Jack slip Tom, throw your belly through a rock, through a reel, through a sheep shank bone, was there ever such a riddle known?

    He also had one he said about Ben Bickerbacker going to get in his Whirly Whickerwackee (combine) and along comes Tom Tickertacker but I can’t remember the rest, he passed last year and wish I could remember it to share with his grandchildren.

  74. Terry Haun Says:

    I remember my grandmother always telling me (in the late 1940’s) “Sing before you eat; Cry before you sleep”. I always hated hearing that because, as a child, I sang ALL the time….

  75. Denni Van Says:

    My Dad always sang this version of a song posted earlier here…
    “Johnny Robhut the Dutchman, how could you be so mean?
    I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.
    All the neighbors’ cats & dogs will never more be seen!
    You grind them up for sausages in Johnny Robhut’s machine.
    Now Johnny’s machine was busted, the darn thing wouldn’t go.
    So, Johnny crawled inside of it to see what made it so!
    His wife she had a nightmare, a-walking in her sleep.
    She gave the crank a heck-of-a yank, and Johnny became the meat!
    There came three boys a-walking, they walked right in the store.
    They bought three pounds of sausages and placed them on the floor.
    The boys began to whistle (say witz-ell), they whistled (witz-elled) up a tune.
    And all the little sausages, they danced around the room!

  76. Maria Says:

    Does anyone know of a riddle that goes something like my brother’s father is my father too…
    That might not even be how it goes but my dad used to always say it. I wish I could go back in time and ask him because I’ve been trying to remember it for years. I would really appreciate if anyone has any insight.

  77. Mim Says:

    I’ve been trying to remember a rhyme that my grandfather used to recite way back in the 60’s. I can only remember a couple of snippets. If anyone could help, it would be awesome. “Ole rhyme ramsack” and further in the rhyme “kitty wants a kimeo”. I know that isn’t much, but at least I remember that much, my siblings don’t remember this much.


  78. Lisa Says:

    There are different songs with kitty and kimeo – often as “sing song kitty kitchie kimeo”. You can hear one here.

  79. Jana Carman Says:

    My husband half-remembers a song from grade school in the 40’s that began:

    Down to the river came little Eileen with her bright golden hair like the crown of a queen.

    If anyone knows the rest, we would like to hear it.

  80. Patricia Hay Says:

    Does anyone know who wrote this poem. I learnt it as a very young child in the 50’s

    Uncle Jack came back from sea, and he bought a doll for me,
    it had such an ugly face and a nasty cross grimace. such a funny coat, not a bit of petticoat, oh I really could not kiss such a foreign doll as this. So I said I’d go and play and I took the doll away and I smashed it’s ugly face in a very stony place, then when I came in for tea, and they asked me where is she? I replied quite slow and sad, I dropped her somewhere, so I had.

  81. Sarah Says:

    My dad used to sing me a song but no idea how old it is. It went like this.
    Old Jonny digger went out one day. Stuck his foot six foot in the clay. He ran for a shovel, to dig himself out. When he got back, their was nobody about. Old Jonny digger how do how do. Old Jonny digger how do how do. Old Jonny digger how do how do. Old Jonny digger how do how do.
    This is just one of many verses. I only know two.

  82. Christine F Says:

    My mom used to recite a poem that included these lines:
    Why should I worry, why should I care. . .
    And if by chance he should die, I’ll just find myself another guy!

    Sound familiar? Would have been from her early years 1930/40s

  83. Vicki Says:

    I remember learning this as a kindergarten student in the 50’s—taught by a teacher who grew up in the 30’s/40’s.

    As I was going to St. Ives,
    I met a man with 7 wives.
    Each wife had 7 sacks.
    Each sack had 7 cats.
    Each cat had 7 kits.
    Kits, cats. sacks, wives…
    How many were going to St. Ives?

  84. Frank Says:

    Back in 2010 Arlene made mention of her father telling her something was “up in Lizzie’s room behind the meat axe”
    This refers to the true story of Lizzie Borden,
    but later folks made up this little ditty about it
    Read the story here

    Lizzie Borden took and axe
    And gave her Mother 40 whacks
    When she saw what she had done
    She gave her Father 41!

    At 80 Yrs. old I’m the patriarch and the historian in my family. I’m a published author and poet, and I remember many of the things mentioned in this column. Great fun to read and to remember!

  85. Fred M. Allen Says:

    I found this website by accident and really enjoyed it. I remember many songs my father taught me, but one I need help with. It’s called ” Laughed at the Wrong Time.” He used to sing “The Preacher and the Bear” and the lullaby, “My Little Buckaroo.” My wife and I sing to each other regularly, “I Love You a Bushel and a Peck.” By the way the song, “I’m My Own Grandpa” can be found at other websites. I look forward to your responses.

  86. Hazel Koorockin Says:

    I found this website by looking for old English sayings as my Nana was English. She taught a little prayer which I have always remembered ” As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

    Other sayings from an Uncle…
    “I come before you, To stand behind you, To tell you something, I know nothing about.” And…

    “Sam Sam was a dirty old man, He washed his face with a frying pan, And combed his hair with a leg of a chair,”____ I can’t remember the next line.

    My father used to say at Xmas— “Christmas is coming and the ducks are getting fat, please put a penny in the old man’s hat. If you haven’t got a penny then a halfpenny will do, if you haven’t got a halfpenny then God Bless You. Halfpenny was pronounced “haypen-e”.

    Unless us oldies can remember some of the sayings of yesterday sadly they will be lost. I enjoyed reading this page.

  87. Lisa Says:

    Re. Patricia Hay’s comment from 3/25/18, we received a letter from Carol U. about the same poem…

    “I’ve been trying to find an old poem that I had in a little book of children’s poetry back in the 50’s. I think it was called ‘The Foreign Doll’. It went something like this:

    ‘When Uncle Jack came back from sea he brought a foreign doll for me but it had an ugly face and a something or other grimace.’ Then something about ‘not a bit of petticoat’.

    It ended up with ‘so I smashed it’s ugly face in a very stony place. When I came in for tea and they asked me ‘where is she’ I replied quite slow and sad ‘lost her somewhere’ – so I had’.

    Not at all politically correct I know!

    Does anyone else know it? I’d love to have all the words.” -Carol

  88. Sheila Beers Says:

    To Jana Carman: I came to this website in an attempt to find the same song. It was in the Elementary School Music Book published by Ginn around 1957-61. I can tell you what I remember of the lyrics:

    “Down to the river came little Eileen/With her bright golden hair like the crown of a queen;”

    I forget the next line, but then it continues with this:

    “But if you’ll take me over, I’ll pay with a smile.”

    At any rate, the missing line ends with a word that rhymes with “smile.” I sometimes have heard an Irish expression “I’ll pay with a smile,” so I still hope to find the entire song.

  89. Sheila Beers Says:

    I would like to contribute a Spanish language song I learned in Spanish I in high school in 1962.

    Un Barco Chiquito

    Hay Una vez un barco chiquito,
    Hay Una vez un barco chiquito
    Hay Una vez un barco chiquito
    Que no podia, no podia, no podia trabajar.

    Por uno, dos, tres, Cuatro, cinco, seis, siete semanas,
    Por uno, dos, tres, Cuatro, cinco, seis, siete semanas,
    Por uno, dos, tres, Cuatro, cinco, seis, siete semanas
    Y empieza, empieza, empieza a faltar.

    The English words are these:

    There was a little boat (sing two more times)

    That could not work

    For one, two, three, four, five, six, seven weeks (sing two more times)

    And it began to sink!

  90. Lisa Says:

    Patricia wrote, “This just popped into my head. My father, trying to be cute when we started off in the car, would say…

    ‘We’re off like a turd of hurtles…. I mean a herd of turtles.’

    But inevitably, Mr. Cum Laude in physics, would say it correctly the first time, so we got the line three times!” -Patricia

  91. Gail Says:

    In 2008 Anne mentioned a rhyme that I remember well as a child but can’t remember the book it came from. Can anyone remember the name of the book please? The rhyme went like this:

    Ball ball bouncy
    bingo’s in the bath
    bunny’s eating lettuce
    up the garden path
    mousie’s in the larder
    gee gees rather lame
    so ball ball bounce
    let’s have a game.

  92. Lisa Says:

    Gail – Could it be in a book called “A Rocket in My Pocket”?

  93. Claire Says:

    Wow, what a wealth of memories here ❤️ I found this site while searching for a nursery rhyme my grandmother used to say to my dad (which he said to us kids and I say to my sons)

    Wake up baby Hazel
    The sun is in the sky
    and all the larks and robins are singin in the branches way up high!
    Why hickory dick your frisky father was up and about hours ago
    Now it’s time the house is tidy, I can’t rock you to and fro

  94. Bill Says:

    My grandma had a plaque with the saying, “The little bear sleeps in his little bear skin. Last night I slept in my little bare skin and caught a helluva cold.”

  95. Mark Says:

    One dark night when the moon was shining bright,
    Two dead boys got up to fight.
    Back to back they faced each other,
    Drew their swords and shot each other.
    A deaf policeman heard the noise
    and came and killed those two dead boys.

  96. Angela Says:

    WOW, what a great page! This takes me back.
    There are some rhymes I learned from my sisters, not sure if they were used to jump rope or not, but they were fun to say!

    Home Rome
    Rumpstick Bumpstick
    Boot jack
    Kitty won’t you ky-me-oh

    There’s a candy dish
    Where’s my share?
    The cat ate it.
    Where’s the cat?
    In the woods.
    Where’s the woods?
    Fire burned it.
    Where’s the fire?
    Water put it out.
    Where’s the water?
    Ox drank it.
    Where’s the ox?
    Butcher killed it.
    Where’s the butcher?
    Rope hung him.
    Where’s the rope?
    Knife cut it.
    Where’s the knife?
    Hammer broke it.
    Where’s the hammer?
    Down in the cellar cracking nuts
    You eat the shells, I’ll eat the guts!

    Flea Fly
    Flea Fly Flo
    Flea Fly Flo Vista!
    Coomala coomala coomala vista
    Eenie meenie dosameenie ooh wokka wokka a meenie
    Eenie meenie zylameenie ooh wokka wokka a meenie
    BEEP belly oaken doken
    Bo bo ba deeten dotten

    Thanks! Great stroll down memory lane! :)

  97. Amberley Says:

    Down by the river came little Irene,- with her bright golden hair like the crown of a queen,-
    for it’s over the river, to market she’ll go,- and she’ll bring back a bunny as white as the snow.-
    “If you pass over the river today,” said the lad on the boat, “why, you surely must pay!”.-
    “But I haven’t a penny, I’ve walked for a mile! And if you take me over, I’ll give you a smile!”-
    “Blue are your eyes, and your smile is so bright!- I suppose, since you asked me, it’s really all right;-
    But we must hurry over before it can rain-…and perhaps, if you ask me, I’l take you again!”

  98. Jenna Says:

    A lovely old lady I used to sit and hear stories from died last year and she used to tell me a story about: two girls, a mum and then a teacher across the road who couldn’t blow out a candle…

    She also used to say a rhyme/story about telling lies.

    Please help

  99. Randy Says:

    Trying to remember the Ryan that went with a game. The game was played by one person standing behind another and whacking them lightly on the back while singing this rhyme.

    “Higgama jiggama thorny cup……(memory trails off) . Then something about “how many fingers do I hold up? “.

    The other person would make a guess between 1 and 5. Depending on if the guess was wrong/ right.

    “_____ is what you said, and ______ is what it is. (another blank) higgama higgama thorny cup.”

    The last time I remember playing this game i was 8 or 9 years old. That was almost 30 years ago. Hope someone knows this. It’s one of many of my fondest memories.

    Oh, and this webpage is AWESOME!!

  100. Lisa Says:

    Randy – It seems this might come from the song called “Ten Little Numbers” which was sung by Hank Williams and written by Roy Acuff”. Here’s the verse with “Higgama jiggama”:

    Higgama, jiggama, horney cuff,
    How many fingers do I hold up
    One you say, and ten I see
    Now open your eyes and count with me

    I hope this helps!

    Mama Lisa

  101. Martha Brumbaugh Says:

    Im looking for the lyrics to an old rhyme about “Old Mr. ELEPHANT”. OLD mr. Elephant , wrinkled & gray. Old Mr. Elephant, walks this way. Swinging his head & swinging his tail, swinging along on the jungle trail. Thats all I can remember.

  102. Connie Basinger Says:

    Yesterday my 90 year old Aunt called me and asked me if I remember a “ditty” from the 1940s we sang as kids. She said it was something like:
    “Linga linga ling, linga linga lie”
    Some thinga about “she opened the window to shout” “The window came down and hit her in the head” and “The Chinaman’s dead”…sounds terrible and ‘politicaally incorrect’, but I would like to be able to send it to her. It seemed important for her to remember it. Thank you, Connie.

  103. Lisa Says:

    Connie – You can find versions of that song on Mudcat here.

  104. Connie Basinger Says:

    That isn’t the one, but I have found out more about the lyrics. Certainly not spelled right nor makes any sense but here are a few words in the song.

    Chinga linga ling, Chinga linga ling, ……

    also Ego Igo happy man
    prego presto bangeor
    galloping walloping chineeor

  105. Brad Says:

    Great site I stumbled on. I’m 49 and live in “very” rural KY. A song came to mind that me and my sisters sang as children. I think this is right but it’s been a few years.

    Miss Tabby had a baby
    She named him Tiny Tim.
    She put him in the bathtub
    To see if he could swim.

    He drank up all the water
    He eat up all the soap.
    He tried to eat the bathtub
    But it wouldn’t go down his throat.

  106. Gigi Wizowaty Says:

    I’m looking for a poem or chant that included, ” I killed a man today,” said he. “You killed a man today?” said I. “I killed a man today,” said he.

    Probably from the 20s or 30s?

  107. GratefulinGa Says:

    What a lovely site! In the early 1960’s, during a power outage, my Grandmother entertained us by teaching/leading us in a game. I was very young but recall it included a rhyme and questions, we moved to various locations in the room, something about Kitty in a corner – maybe meowing? I only remember bits and pieces, hoping someone might know enough to help fil in the gaps.
    Thank you!

  108. Lisa Says:

    According to Improvencyclopedia, it’s a children’s game called “Kitty in the Corner”.

    “4 – 6 players stand at corners of the playing area, one player in the middle. 2 players try to make eye contact, and then switch places, while the middle player tries to capture a corner. The faster the pace, and the higher the stakes (make diagonal eye contacts!) the more fun.”

  109. KAREN SMITH Says:

    My mom has been stuck trying to remember the beginning and the end of this…”I’ll jump in bed and cover up my head and bet you cannot find me”…a saying with which she remembers my dad would tease her. Her end of day closing with me has always been “Pleasant dreams, sweet repose, half the bed and all the clothes.” Clothes here refers to sheets, blankets etc. She just experienced a stroke at 89 and days later was able to close our telephone conversation with “Pleasant dreams, sweet repose, half the bed and all the clothes.” We were blessed.

  110. Lisa Says:

    Hi Karen – Your mom’s bedtime rhyme dates back to at least to the 1850’s!

  111. Eric T Hall Says:

    One bright day in the middle of the night.
    Two dead boys rose to fight.
    Back to back they faced each other.
    Drew thier swords and shot each other.
    The deaf policeman heard the noise.
    Come and killed them two dead boys.
    If you dont believe this lie is true.
    Ask the blind man he saw it too…

    I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw.

  112. Eric T Hall Says:

    One dark day while the sky was blue.
    Down the road a sewer wagon flew.
    A bump was hit a scream was heard.
    Someone got hit by a flying turd.

    Jump rope…
    Miss mary mack all dressed in black with silver buttons down her back.

  113. Emily Says:

    Hi I’ve been reading some of these and was wondering if anyone had ever heard of a couple of songs my Nan used to sing to me that she said her mum had sung to her when they were in the shelters during the war, the first one went:

    I’ll tell Ma a Mary Ann, walking down the street with a nice young man, high legged boots and a feather in his hat, that’s the way you get the sack.

    And the other one was:

    Policeman policeman don’t take me I have a wife and a family,
    How many children have you got?
    Four and twenty,
    That’s a lot!

    I would love to know if anyone else knows of these songs and if they do if they can remember any more of the words. Used to sing them to my daughter when she was a baby and these along with my old man’s a dustman (in a slower quieter version) were the only songs that used to sooth her off to sleep.

    Thanks for any help in advance

  114. Kathleen Says:

    Responding to Justin’s 2016 post…hey I just came across this site

    My mom taught us this song:

    Grandmom Pembroke taught us a Depression Era song I taught you three:

    Three Jolly old bums
    Three Jolly old bums
    Three Jolly old bums are we
    We hang around the Jolly old town as happy as can be

    The other night we met a man we never met before
    He asked us if we wanted a job shoveling iron ore
    We asked him, what the wages were
    He said 10 cents a ton
    We said oh brother oh mister
    We’d rather be on the bum
    Shootin’ sticks and stokies
    Hi diddly dum
    Sleeping in the boxcars
    Having lot of fun

    We woke up in the morning
    And gazed upon the wall
    The bedbugs and the roaches
    We’re having a game of ball
    The score was 19 20
    The bedbugs were ahead
    The roaches hit a homerun
    And knocked us out of bed

    We went downstairs for breakfast
    The bread was hard and stale
    The coffee taste like tobacco juice
    The kind you get in jail

  115. Sue Says:

    My mom and aunt would laugh when one couldn’t hear the other, and they would recite a saying:
    You deaf old soul,
    You said you lost your pole

    They would continue on, but I can’t remember the other lines that went to it. Does anyone know the rest of this little rhyme?

  116. Lisa Says:

    Hi Sue! I found a slightly different and longer version on this site that goes:

    “There was this man having dinner at this old woman’s house. She was hard of hearing. She did like we always do, and asked the fellow if he wanted anything else.

    He responded: ‘O, I’ve eaten sufficient.’

    The woman, trying to understand him, with hand to ear says: ‘Eh? You’ve been a-fishing?’

    The man, trying to clarify his words says, a little louder this time, ‘No, I’ve had plenty!’

    The woman, still bewildered, but thinking she knows what’s going on says, ‘And you caught twenty?’

    Then the man, realizing what he was up against says, ‘You poor, old soul.’

    The woman, leans forward, hand on ear and says: ‘And you broke your pole?’

    The story usually ends there, but I’m told it can continue with ‘You old fool!’ – ‘You fished in a pool?'”

    You can find a slightly different version here.

    Does anyone know more lines that go with this joke?

    -Mama Lisa

  117. YourSoundman Says:

    Please help me out here! Given the current health situation, I was hoping to revive an old 50s-60s sing-a-long about morning hygiene I still remember from years ago.

    If you grew up within fifty miles of Manhattan, NY in the early 1980s, FM radio station WHTZ 100FM used to play it early every weekday morning.

    Cannot find it anywhere online, including YouTube!

    Here’s as much as I can remember:

    Wash your hands (Wash your hands!)
    Comb your hair (Comb your hair!)
    Scrub your face (Scrub your face!)

    Before you come down each morning, every day!

    Your hands are sure to shake hands with someone whose hands are sure to be clean,

    You hair is where your face begins and your face is the very first place to be seen…..

    To that effect, the best of my recollection.

    Pleeease, someobody out there, I know someone knows what the heck I’m talking about

    Thanks in advance!

  118. Kathy Ralph Says:

    Amazing site. So many memories.
    I am looking for a poem that used to be told to me as a child, hope someone can help.
    Tiny Tim sat on the rim (brim) and looked at the deep deep sea (tea)
    It was something about a cup of tea I think! Love to find it.

  119. Roylene DiDio Says:

    Grew up in Tacoma Washington, Music Box Theater was having a talent show. I was 10. Sang this song: A you’re adorable, B you’re so beautiful, C you’re a cutie full of charm, D you’re a Darling, E you’re exciting, F you’re a feather in my arms, G you look good to me, H you’re so heavenly, I you’re the one I idolize, J we’re like Jack and Jill, K you’re so kissable, L is the love light in your eyes, M, N, O, P, I could go on all day, Q, R, S, T, alphabetically speaking, you’re O.K., U, make my life complete, V, means you’re very sweet, W, X, Y, Z, It’s fun to wander thru the alphabet with you to tell you what you mean to me.
    I was so proud, I won a prize, a quart of vanilla ice cream, took to home, and treated my family to a dish of ice cream.

  120. Roylene DiDio Says:

    Old memories are the best. I’m 81 ! and still going strong.

  121. Marian Betts Says:

    I just found this site and have an hours fun reading all the memories! My was a poetess and loved to read and write poetry, so she made sure we did, too. One of my favorites was from the 1800’s by Charles Kingsley.

    I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
    The prettiest doll in the world;
    Her cheeks were so red and so white, dears,
    And her hair was so charmingly curled.
    But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
    As I played in the heath one day;
    And I cried for more than a week, dears,
    But I never could find where she lay.

    I found my poor little doll, dears,
    As I played in the heath one day:
    Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
    For her paint is all washed away,
    And her arms trodden off by the cows, dears
    And her hair not the least bit curled:
    Yet for old sakes’ sake she is still, dears,
    The prettiest doll in the world.

  122. John Says:

    a is for apple ——- b is for bun we eat at tea…..what was the rest

  123. brenda bates Says:

    how bout… Fishy Fishy in the brook Daddy catches em with a hook Mommy fries em in a pan Baby eats em like a man

  124. Guy Says:

    Here are the lyrics I learned from my mother regarding the “policeman” and the “little bum”. Coupled with a nice little tune, two verses:

    A Passing Policeman saw a little bum
    Sitting on the curbstone, chewing chewing gum.
    Said he to him kindly “Won’t you give me some?”
    “Yum, yum, yum!”  said the little bum.

    “Please, mister conductor, let me on your car,
    I only have a nickel, and I must go very far.
    I’m going to see my Grandma in Pittsburg PA,
    And I will never get there, if you take my nickel away.”

  125. Lisa Says:

    Bill Nolan sent this:

    Rhyme told to me as a child by my father who was a WWII Vet…

    A big fat policeman saw a little bum,
    Sitting on a curb stone chewing bubblegum.
    “Ah” Said the policeman, “Won’t you give me some?”
    “Shinny up your shirttail,” said the little bum.

  126. Shawn Strange Says:

    My late father-in-law used to recite a farm poem all the time, but we don’t remember all the words. Can anyone help?

    “Out on the farm it was half past four, I jerked on my pants and ran out the door. I milked 10 cows and mended the fences, (…….. ) and fed the chickens.”

    There was something about, “curing Nance and Jig.” And, “some people say there ain’t no he’ll, but they never farmed, so they can’t tell.”

    Any help would be appreciated!! Thx! Shawn from Ohio ❤️😎

  127. Lisa Says:

    Hi Shawn – You can find the poem online. It’s called Life on the Farm by Henry M. Lorang.

  128. Suzie Says:

    Hello, Can anyone help with this? In the 1960s I had a large format book with Christian poems for children, all illustrated. One of them was a child talking to Jesus as if he was a child the same age, and asking him about growing up in Heaven. In one place he asks Jesus if he used the stars to play with like marbles. Also he asked if he played with the angels asking, ‘and did the things play Can you See Me through their wings? As a small child myself I loved the poem, but it is as much the association with the adults who read them to me that makes me want to find this poem again. Anyone else heard or read it? I do hope someone can help me out here. Many thanks.S

  129. Michael J Mannion Says:

    I am looking for a song that was part of an album of funny songs my parents used to play on the record player in the late 1950s/early 1960s It was the story about land developers intending to expand homes into a wooded or forested area only to be encountered (and outsmarted) by a pesky beaver who foiled their every plan. Music (especially drumming) was part of the beaver’s arsenal. The last line of the song was something like this: “And the law of the land is that no beaver shall fail…if he fails to make dams, but instead plays the drums….with his tail.”


  130. Gillian Says:

    My mom used to sing to me at bedtime, Scarlet Ribbons. I now sing it to my little one – it’s her most requested song these days.

    I came on here to remember a rhyme that has completely left my mind… was hoping it would be triggered by something here, but unfortunately not yet. It had words that blended together that didn’t make sense, but if you slowed it down, you could figure out the words and meanings
    … not helpful I know. It’s on the tip of my tongue!

  131. Shamzie Says:

    I’m a 2001 child but I was taught the St Ives song and
    One fine day in the middle of the night
    Two dead men got up to fight song

    However, I’ve been trying to remember the rest on the
    Seven Fat Fishermen Sitting Side By Side, Fished From a Bridge by the Banks of a Clide lyrics

    [Note: “Clide” might be the “Clyde” River.]

  132. Mike Mage Says:

    Many of the remembered snatches of songs and rhymes go back at least to the 1600s and came here with settlers.
    Some can be found in the Child Ballads (“The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis James Child”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_Ballads

    Others can be found in collections of Mother Goose, also dating to the 1600s.

    The Caedmon Mother Goose (sung and recited by Cyril Richard, Boris Karloff, and Celeste Holme) is a great starting point. It has many of the songs and rhymes recalled on this thread. It’s available as used vinyl, audio cassette, and on YouTube.


  133. Kirsten Says:

    So glad to find this site. I’ve been looking for the exact words to a marching poem my mom taught me in the early 1960s. The words are in cadence so when you say “left” your left foot is hitting the ground, and when you say “right” your right foot goes down. But I must be missing some words because after you finish you should be able to start over in step, but I’m always on the wrong foot. It goes something like:

    Left my wife and 41 kids, an old gray mule and a peanut stand
    Did I do right?
    Right by my country and
    Right by my wife.
    I had a good home and I
    Left…. (these two lines are the ones I can’t get to come out correctly with my feet. What am I

  134. Lisa Says:


    I’m seeing other versions on the internet. They seem to end in the following ways:

    -“Left, left, left, right, left…” (Then it would go into the first line.)

    Or simply:

    -“Left, left,
    Left my wife…..”

    You can find more versions here.

    Does anyone else know Kirsten’s version?

  135. Patty Says:

    There was a saying my father-in-law used to say. I only remember a few words and is wondering if anyone can help. It goes something something something and a cross cut saw.

  136. Lisa Says:

    Jay sent this very local Philadelphia-specific verse from the song “O you can’t get to heaven” (from the 50’s):

    O you can’t get to heaven
    On the Frankford El,
    Because the Frankford El
    Goes straight to …. 69th Street!

    “The surprise unrhymed ending made it very funny — and kind of naughty too (for 11 year olds) because of the anticipated bad word, ‘hell.’



  137. Chris Brown Says:

    Gillian (Dec 4 20) asked about a song that “had words that blended together that didn’t make sense, but if you slowed it down, you could figure out the words and meanings”
    I suspect he means the old Andrews Sisters’ hit “Mareseatoats and Doeseatoats & Littlelambseativy”. Easy enough to find if that is the one.

    My mother was a skylark and sang from morn till night. We three children all had our favourites. Her repertoire was huge and I often remember some of her songs, many of which were film and Broadway hits rather than “folk songs” but occasionally she would come up with really old songs from her own mother from Devon. I came here looking for more lyrics for an English song with the title “The Boy on the Top of the No. 12 Bus” (or similar). Here’s what I remember:
    “Have you spent the tuppence mother gave you?
    Ain’t that lady’s face like our dog, Nell?
    something something something never tell.

    Is it true that we all came from monkeys
    When I look at you I think it so.
    If you are a monkey where’s your tail gone?
    Eh Dad, don’t you know.”

    Ta very much, Chris

  138. Lisa Says:

    Chris Brown- I found this on Mudcat from circa 1908 according to the YouTube:

    You can hear this at YouTube:

    As sung by Ben Albert

    My youngest son, he’s of a most inquiring turn of mind,
    And answers to his questions it all puzzles me to find.
    We started in a tram today; with anger I turned red.
    The passengers all smiled aloud when my young kiddie said:

    “Have you spent that tuppence mother gave you?
    Ain’t that woman’s face like our dog Nell?
    Why is it that you’re always wearing whiskers,
    And mother never does? Please, Daddy, tell.
    Is it true that we descend from monkeys?
    Now I look at you, it must be so.
    But if you are a monkey, where’s your tail gone?
    Aye, Dad, don’t you know?”

    We gave a supper party and I let our kid sit up.
    He promised that he wouldn’t speak a word, the little pup.
    But later on, the rascal, he for knowledge seemed to thirst.
    In front of all the guests we had, these questions on me burst:

    “Will these people here eat all the food up?
    Ain’t they had no dinner for a week?
    Is that the soup that mother fetched from uncle’s?
    And why does she put red stuff on her cheek?
    Where did mother first discover, you, Dad?
    Was it in a Barnum-Bailey show?
    And how did you become my little daddy?
    Aye, Dad, don’t you know?”

    My daughter Kate’s been on the shelf for years, but found a jay,
    And so to see her married, we all went to church today.
    The youngster started talking; I tried to turn him out.
    He got beneath the fam’ly pew and then commenced to shout:

    “Is it right that sister’s found a josser?
    Is it true he’ll meet an awful fate?
    Does he know that mother’s going to live with them,
    Just to see that things are going straight?
    Does he know that sister’s leg’s a cork one?
    I wonder if she’s ever told him so?
    D’you think he’ll find it out and want this money back?
    Aye, Dad, don’t you know?”

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