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 skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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

  1. Katharine Gillings Says:

    My mother Mary used to say this at bedtime everynight. I could never remember the words correctly. Good job you have them here.

    Pleasant dreams & sweet repose, half the bed & all the clothes.

    My grandfather, who was older than usual used to sing

    Iky piky, okey pokey sha la ma ringa marra
    (Not sure of spelling. Relates to the selling ice cream.)

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