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Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme

Azizi 06 Oct 08 - 10:52 PM
Azizi 06 Oct 08 - 11:01 PM
Azizi 06 Oct 08 - 11:17 PM
Azizi 06 Oct 08 - 11:30 PM
Stilly River Sage 06 Oct 08 - 11:36 PM
Melissa 06 Oct 08 - 11:45 PM
Azizi 06 Oct 08 - 11:56 PM
Azizi 07 Oct 08 - 12:02 AM
Melissa 07 Oct 08 - 12:08 AM
Malcolm Douglas 07 Oct 08 - 01:40 AM
Melissa 07 Oct 08 - 01:52 AM
s&r 07 Oct 08 - 02:30 AM
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Subject: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 10:52 PM

"Not last night but the night before" {or "last night and the night before"} is the beginning line of a number of children's song/rhymes. I'm interested in knowing the origin of those rhymes, and document some of the similarities and differences between these rhymes throughout the English speaking world.

My interest in this particular rhyme was prompted this evening by this note that was sent to my website on children's rhymes:

"I am trying to remember a song, can you help me. It starts with Not last night but the night before, 24 robbers knocked at my door. I got up to let them in and they all took a chair and began to sing. I can't remember the rest, can you help me. Thanks so much".
-Judy; 10/5/2008

-snip-

As a result of that query, I've done a search of past Mudcat threads and other websites and found a number of examples of that song/rhyme. I'll post some of those examples on this thread along with the links to those threads and websites.

But I'm curious where this "not last night but the night before" song/rhyme came from. I'm wondering was its source a religious song or an old popular song? By "old" I mean prior to the 1950s, though that is indeed old. I remember a jump rope/ball bouncing rhyme from my childhood {in Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1950s} that went "Last night and the night before/24 robbers at my door/I got up and let them in/hit'em on the head with a rolling pin". But I suspect that this song is far older than the 1950s.

Also, I'm wondering which came first-the British version with its 3 tomcats, 3 pigs/pancake on their bums version etc version or the American version with its 24 robbers/hit'em in the head with a rolling pin {or frying pan} version.

In the scheme of things, this important. But I think it will be interesting to read different versions of this song/rhyme and consider possible theories about how they came to be.

Thanks, in advance, for your participation in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 11:01 PM

Here's a version of this rhyme that is similar to the one that Judy asked about when she wrote to my website www.cocojams.com:


Not last night but the night before
24 robbers came to my door
They stole my watch and they stole my ring
and then they all began to sing
"Policeman, policeman, do your duty here comes (name) the American beauty!
She can wiggle; She can wobble;
She can do the split;
but she can't wear her dresses above her hips!"
Contributed by Toni Jaskoski; http://www.gameskidsplay.net/jump_rope_ryhmes/jump_not_last_night.htm

-snip-

"Not last night but the night before" or "last night and the night before" is the first line of an introductory verse to a number of children's rhymes. That first verse is combined with another children's rhymes or more than one children's rhymes. In the case of the example above, the second rhyme is "Policeman, Policeman".

"Spanish Dancer" is another commonly found rhyme that follows the "not last night" etc verse. Here's an example of that rhyme:

Not last night,
But the night before,
Twenty-four robbers came
knocking at my door.
I asked them what
they wanted
and this is what they said:
Spanish dancer, do the
splits, splits, splits!
Spanish dancer, do the
twist, twist, twist!
Spanish dancer.
turn around.
touch the ground.
and out the back door.

Source: Veronica Chambers, Double Dutch, A Celebration of Jump Rope, Rhyme, and Sisterhood (New York, Hyperion Books for Children, 2002; p. 49)


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 11:17 PM

Here's another version of this rhyme that I remember from my childhood:

Last night the night before
twenty five robbers at my door.
I got up to let them in.
and this is what they said to me.
Lady bird, lady bird
turn all around around around
Lady bird, lady bird
touch the ground the ground, the ground
Lady bird, lady bird
say your prayers, your prayers, your prayers
Lady bird, lady bird
step right OUT!
-Azizi Powell; childhood memories of Atlantic City, New Jersey; 1950s; http://www.cocojams.com/handclap_rhymes.htm


**
The person jumping does the movements as directed by the words, but does not sing the words. On the word "OUT", the jumper jumps out and the next jumper jumps in. "Lady bird" probably originally was "lady bug".

Note that I remember singing "25 robbers" though almost all of the "robber" versions give the number as 24. I wonder why it's 24 robbers and not 3 or 2 or 15? No that this is heavy duty or anything. But at least tonight, I'd rather wonder about this than real heavy duty stuff. YouknowhatImean?


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 11:30 PM

Examples of this song/rhyme from Great Britain and Australia [that I've read on other Mudcat threads] are quite different from the American version, though they have a very similar pattern to each other.

Here's three examples:

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pig with a pancake on his bum
From: Tam the man - PM
Date: 09 Sep 05 - 11:28 AM

I remember a wee thing that went

not last night but the night before
three wee witches came to the door
the first had a trumpet, the second had a drum,
and third had a pancake stuck to it's bum

thread.cfm?threadid=84508#1559841

**

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Pig with a pancake on his bum
From: rhyzla - PM
Date: 09 Sep 05 - 10:21 AM

is it related to:

Not last night but the night before,
3 little pigs came knocking at the door,
the first had a trumpet, the second had a drum,
and third had a pancake stuck to it's bum

Not sure of source - any else?

**

Subject: Lyr Add: ???
From: Snuffy - PM
Date: 21 Feb 00 - 07:22 PM

---

Not last night, but the night before,
Three old tomcats knocking at the door
One had whisky, one had rum
And one had a pancake stuck to his bum

thread.cfm?threadid=18352#182450


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 11:36 PM

Those aren't the same words I heard as a kid, but don't ask me to tell you what they were! The first line is the same, none of the rest sound familiar. Now it will nag at me (ear worm!) until I remember it. I remember that we got pretty riske with some of our words to that poem.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Melissa
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 11:45 PM

Missouri, early 70s, ours was a 'made a mistake' jumprope rhyme.

Violent with things like "went upstairs to get my gun, made a mistake and shot my son"
"went upstairs to tell my mother, made a mistake and shot my brother"


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Oct 08 - 11:56 PM

There's also a {probably much newer than the 1950s} handclap rhyme that starts with or includes the line "not last night but the night before" but is quite different from the "24 robbers" version. See this example:


"Here is a song we used to do on the playground in Birmingham, AL back in the 80s: Last night and the night before I met my boyfriend at the candy store He brought me ice cream he brought me cake he brought me home with a stomachache mama mama i feel sick call the doctor quick quick quick doctor doctor will i die close you eyes and count to five i said a one, a two, a three, a four, a five I'm alive [Optional part] we would do sometimes (a little risque for little girls): see that house on top of that hill that's where me and my baby gon' live we gon' cook some cornbread cook some meat come on baby let's go to bed and do the boom boom boom.
-Joi; 3/23/2008; http://www.cocojams.com/handclap_rhymes.htm


**
African American girls {ages around 6-12 years} in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania {from at least the mid 1980s to this date} recite this rhyme while doing nandclaps {2 person; three persons, or two sets of partners handclaps}.

**

I like to think of children's rhymes as belonging to certain "families". In my opinion, I consider the "Not Last Night/24 robbers at my door" and the "Not Last Night 3 tomcats/pancake on their bums" rhymes to belong to the same family of rhymes, though I see them as distant relatives.

However, I don't consider the "Not last night...met my boyfriend at the candy store" rhymes to be part of that same family. Well, perhaps they used to be part of the same family. But, in my opinion, there are too many differences between these two groups of rhymes to consider them still part of the same family.** Instead, I believe that the "met my boyfriend at the candy store" rhyme as cited above belongs to the very large "Shimmy Shimmy CocoPa", I Love Coffee/I Love Tea"; "Down Down Baby" family of rhymes.*

*For examples of "Shimmy Shimmy Co Co Pa", "I Love Coffee I Love Tea", and "Down Down Baby" rhymes, visit Cocojams Handclap Rhymes page, and Cocojams' Movement Rhymes page.

**I know that there are often significant differences in human families, and that's all good-sometimes anyway. But when it comes to song/rhyme families, I think that too many differences in words mean that the rhymes shouldn't be considered as a part of the same group}.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 12:02 AM

Stilly River Sage, thanks for your post. I hadn't read your post when I reposted that example that Joi said could get risque. Is this similar to the one one you did?

**

Melissa, thanks for your post also. Did the rhyme that you remember start with the "not last night but the night before/24 robbers at my door" words? Would you please post it?


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Melissa
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 12:08 AM

yes,
not last night but the night before
twenty four robbers came a knockin' at my door

all I remember are the gun and mother and I can't even remember how it ended but I would guess that we went upstairs to get something that ended with counting (similar to Cinderella) but I'm not sure.
I am pretty sure that it probably DID have an ending..


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 01:40 AM

Number 19076 in the Roud Folk Song Index, which currently lists 26 published examples from Britain, Ireland, Canada and the USA; two of the American ones were printed in the 1940s.

It goes back quite a bit further than that, though. In Baring-Gould, A Garland of Country Song (1895, note to 'One Night at Ten o'Clock'), Baring-Gould quotes from 'a vulgar street song, beginning:-

Not last night, but the night before,
Two tom cats came and knocked at my door;
I went down to let them in,
They knocked me down with a rolling pin.'

It was sung, he said, to the same tune; which he thought late 18th century.

In The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren (1959, p 23) Iona and Peter Opie quote verses from Portsmouth (1953), Dundee (1956) and Maryland (1948), referring also to similar examples of the time. They allude to Baring-Gould's comment, and add 'A correspondent to Notes and Queries, 10th series, vol. xii, 1909, p. 518, and 11th series, vol. i, 1910, p. 55, recalled that the following was repeated to him by his mother some sixty years earlier:

It warn't last night, bu' th' night before,
Three big beggars knockt at the door;
I made haste to let them in,
An' was knockt down wi' a rowlin' pin.'

I'm reasonably sure that I've seen a longer 19th century text somewhere, but I can't remember where. Perhaps it will come back to me if it isn't imaginary. The Opies finish by quoting from a letter Lewis Carroll wrote in c.1866, reproduced in S D Collingwood, The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll, 1898, 420:

'That reminds me of a very curious thing that happened to me at half-past four yesterday. Three visitors came knocking at my door, begging me to let them in. And when I opened the door, who do you think they were? You'll never guess. Why, they were three cats! Wasn't it curious? However, they all looked so cross and disagreeable that I took up the first thing I could lay my hand on (which happened to be the rolling-pin) and knocked them all down as flat as pan-cakes! "If you come knocking at my door," I said, "I shall come knocking at your heads." That was fair, wasn't it?'


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Melissa
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 01:52 AM

Isn't a short version of it in Stephen King's "Tommyknockers" too?
something about tommyknockers knocking at my door?


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: s&r
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 02:30 AM

Ladybird is the UK name of what you would know as ladybug Azizi

Stu


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Little Robyn
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 02:42 AM

Here in NZ we had a version very similar to Baring-Gould's one.

Not last night but the night before,
Two tomcats came knocking at my door,
I opened the door to let them in
And they knocked me down with a rolling pin.

Robyn


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 07:20 AM

Thanks to all who have posted on this thread thus far.

Special thanks to Malcolm Douglas for sharing that information about early versions of this rhyme/song.

Here's some information about the Roud Folk Index that Malcolm mentioned in his post:

"The Roud Folk Song Index is a database of 300,000 references to over 21,600 songs that have been collected from oral tradition in the English language from all over the world. It is a combination of the Broadside Index (printed sources before 1900) and a "field-recording index". It subsumes all the previous well-known printed sources known to Francis James Child and more recent recorded audio sources from 1900 to 1975. Related songs are grouped under the same Roud number. The more ancient songs tend to occupy low numbers, but songs which are obscure are given higher numbers"...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roud_Folk_Song_Index

**

And here's an online link to the Roud Folk Index:

http://library.efdss.org/cgi-bin/query.cgi?query=


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 07:38 AM

Given that information that Malcolm Douglas mentioned in his post to this thread, it's interesting to note that the American versions of "24 robbers.../ hit'em on the head with a rolling pin" as well as the New Zealand version that Little Robyn posted about "3 tom cats...they knocked me down with a rolling pin" are truer to the earlier versions of this rhyme than the UK, and Australian versions of "tom cats {et al}/... pancakes stuck to their bum".

I wonder where the "pancake stuck to the bum" ending came from? Perhaps it was just a silly ending to a funny tale of tomcats or other animals or witches etc knocking on a person's door and playing instruments for them. But I wonder this rhyme is related to the holiday Pancake Day; Pancake Tuesday that I first learned about by reading Mudcat threads. Was one of the customs of Pancake Day to go door to door singing or playing instruments? In that version of the rhyme did the tomcat get a pancake on his bum* as a punitive action {perhaps because the person whose house he visited didn't like the way he played his instrument?"

* For the sake of those readers who may not be familiar with this word, some of whom may be children, in this context, a "bum" means an animal's or person's "butt" {"behind"}.

**

Here's an excerpt from that online page about Pancake Day whose link I provided:

"Shrove Tuesday: The Pancake Fest
Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving, when the faithful confessed their sins to the local priest and recieved forgiveness before the Lenten season began.

As far back as 1000 AD, "to shrive" meant to hear confessions. (Trivia note: the term survives today in the expression "short shrift" or giving little attention to anyone's explanations or excuses).

Historically, Shrove Tuesday also marked the beginning of the 40-day Lenten fasting period when the faithful were forbidden by the church to consume meat, butter, eggs or milk. However, if a family had a store of these foods they all would go bad by the time the fast ended on Easter Sunday. What to do?

Solution: use up the milk, butter and eggs no later than Shrove Tuesday. And so, with the addition of a little flour, the solution quickly presented itself in... pancakes. And lots of 'em.

Today, the Shrove Tuesday pancake tradition lives on throughout Western Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia, but is most associated with the UK where it is simply known as Pancake Day with a traditional recipe, although these can be as varied in the UK as there are British households.

In France, (as well as here in the US - or more famously - in New Orleans) it's known as Fat Tuesday which kicks off the Mardi Gras festival with wild celebrations just before the austere Lenten season.

In Sweden, Fat Tuesday translates to Fettisdagen, and in Lithuania it's Uzgavens. In Poland, traditional celebrations take place on a Thursday a week before Ash Wednesday and so it's Tlusty Czwartek, or Fat Thursday"...

-snip-

Here's another excerpt from an online article about this holiday:

"Throughout the British Isles the day before Ash Wednesday - Shrove Tuesday - is commonly known as Pancake Day. In Ireland, It's called Pancake Tuesday. As the child of Irish parents living in London, I loved watching the Pancake Races. Usually, the contestants were housewives. Each of them carried a skillet which contained a large, very thin pancake. The idea was for the women to race to the finish line, tossing their pancakes as they ran. It was hilarious - especially when a stray pancake landed where it wasn't supposed to!"...

http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/ShroveTues.html

**

Again, I'm curious if the custom of "caroling" {going door to door singing and/or playing instruments} was ever associated with Pancake Day/Pancake Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday.

??


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 07:46 AM

Btw, I've sent an email to Joi, whose note to my Cocojams website prompted me to start this thread, to let her know about this discussion.

**

For full disclosure, let me mention that I've been working on a book on speculative sources and multiple versions of selected English language children's rhymes. And I'm sure that I'll be interested in including in that book some of the information and examples that are posted or may be posted on this thread. To that end, as per my agreement with Joe Offer, Mudcat's chief moderator, I'll be sending a personal message to Mudcat members for prior permission to include your posts.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 08:02 AM

Melissa, you mentioned the Stephen King book "Tommyknockers". Here's some information about that:

"The Tommyknockers is an 1987 novel by horror novelist Stephen King. While maintaining a horror style, the novel is more of an excursion into the realm of science fiction for King, as the residents of the Maine town of Haven gradually fall under the influence of a mysterious object buried in the woods.

In his autobiography, On Writing, King attributes the basic premise to the short story "The Colour out of Space" by H.P. Lovecraft. It also draws fairly obvious parallels with the classic 1956 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. King wrote the book during a period of acknowledged substance abuse, and has written that he realized later on that the novel was a metaphor for that addiction.

A TV miniseries based on the novel was shown in 1993...

The book takes its title from an old children's rhyme:

"Late last night and the night before, :Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers knocking at my door, :I want to go out, don't know if I can, :'Cause I'm so afraid of the Tommyknocker man!"...

http://listing-index.ebay.com/movies/The_Tommyknockers.html

-snip-

Here's some information about the meaning of the word "tommyknocker":

Tommyknocker Brewery Co.

"Tommykocker is located high in the Rocky Mountains in Idaho Springs, CO, located just 25 miles west of Denver. Idaho Springs is a historic mining town and somewhat still has the presence of miners and how the town looked back in the mining days in 1890's. the Tommyknocker name comes from the knocking on the mine walls that happens just before cave-ins - actually the creaking of earth and timbers before giving way. To some of the miners, the knockers were malevolent spirits and the knocking was the sound of them hammerings at walls and supports to cause the cave-in. To others, who saw them as essentially well-meaning practical jokers, the knocking was their way of warning the miners that a life-threatning collapse was imminent".

http://finalgravity.blogspot.com/2007/12/mash-tommyknocker-brewery.html

[italics added by me for emphasis]


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Mo the caller
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 08:10 AM

Well, there's a lot of loose threads here.
Pancake day - never heard of caroling or begging door-to-door then.It seems to be a winter thing (in my mind), All souls, bonfire night, Christmas.
Your Ladybird rhyme seems to be a mixture of several that I remember from childhood (London late 40s)

Not last night but the night before
3 tom cats came knocking at my door
I opened the door to let them in
And they knocked me down with a rolling pin

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
(All but one whose name is Ann
She hid under the frying pan)

We used to recite this one (usually only the first 2 lines) if we caught a ladybird - hold it on our hand, and gently blow to make it fly off.

Teedy bear teddy bear turn around
Teddy bear teddy bear touch the ground
Teddy bear, teddy bear climb the stairs
Teddy bear teddy bear say your prayers
Teddy bear teddy bear turn out the light
Teddy bear teddy bear say goodnight
"Goodnight" (That was spoken, the rest chanted)
Teddy bear was a skipping rhyme (with a long rope, 2 turning, the others taking turns to jump and do the actions), or as a finger play at the back of the class (naughty 10 yr olds).

No, thinking about it, this was the one we did as a finger play -
This is the church (2 hands, knuckles interlocked)
This is the steeple (index fingers up and touching)
Open the door and see all the people (turn hands palms up, fingers interlocked pointing up)
Here is the parson going up stairs (make staircase with knuckles of on hand, 2 fingers of other hand climb)
Here he is saying his prayers (hands together)

Azizi, just like drawing a human 'family tree' you can get fairly wide spread before you've finished. Everyone ends up related to everyone else! What fun.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 08:19 AM

Ladybird is the UK name of what you would know as ladybug Azizi
-Stu

Thanks, Stu, for that information. It's fascinating to note how bits & pieces of United Kingdom English language are retained by some Americans and other English speaking people, while other words & phrases are replaced. I remember singing the word "ladybird" and not "ladybug", though ladybug might be a more American referent. And, btw, I'm certain that when I sang those words long long ago, I thought that I was referring to an actual bird, and not a bug.

But apparently a number of folks in the USA are familiar with the word "ladybird". After all, former US President Lyndon B. Johnson's wife was nicknamed Lady Bird Johnson, or was that just a nickname LBJ gave her to make her initials the same as his?

**

Here's an excerpt from the ladybird/ladybug wikipedia page:

Coccinellidae is a family of beetles, known variously as ladybirds (British English, Australian English, South African English), ladybugs (North American English) or lady beetles (preferred by some scientists"...

Some people consider seeing them or having them land on one's body to be a sign of good luck to come, and that killing them presages bad luck. A few species are pests in North America and Europe"...

The ladybird is immortalised in the still-popular children's nursery rhyme Ladybird, Ladybird:

" Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home

Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one, and that's Little Anne
For she has crept under the warming pan.
"

Many variants exist, including one that seems ancient (recounted in an 1851 publication):

" Dowdy-cow, dowdy-cow, ride away heame,

Thy house is burnt, and thy bairns are tean,
And if thou means to save thy bairns
Take thy wings and flee away!...

The name that the insect bears in the various languages of Europe is mythic. In this, as in other cases, the Virgin Mary has supplanted Freyja, the fertility goddess of Norse mythology; so that Freyjuhaena and Frouehenge have been changed into Marienvoglein, which corresponds with Our Lady's Bird. The esteem with which these insects are regarded has roots in ancient beliefs"...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccinellidae


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: pavane
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 08:43 AM

Of course, ancient people might have known well that they, and especially their larvae, prey upon aphids, and are therefore good for the gardener.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Abdul The Bul Bul
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 08:44 AM

Well every 2 years or so over the last (has it been ) 40 years I can still catch one of the latest kids out with a..."You know last night"?

and the night before,
Two tom cats came knocking at the door
One had a fiddle
One had a drum
and one had a pancake stuck to his bum.

That's how my Geordie grandad used to tell it.

His other favourite was.

One two three
Mother caught a flea
Put it in the teapot to make a cup of tea
Flea jumped out
mother gave a shout.
Here comes (name of child) with his shirt hanging out.

Al


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 08:45 AM

Thanks for your post, Mo. I agree that in the broadest view everything is related to everything else. But it's the hows & whys and whens of those relationships that are fascinating to me.

**

Btw, I'm not sure how I learned the version of that "Last night the night before" song that I remember from my childhood. I think that I learned it as a jump rope rhyme {with enders turning the rope and usually one person at a time jumping in the middle} from other children, and not from my mother or from school. And I'm pretty sure that I learned the other version "24 robbers at my door/hit'em in the head with a rollin' pin} when I was a teenager or older from reading in a book.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 09:18 AM

As an adult I remember hearing the song "Who All Is Here" on an Ella Jenkins audiotape. I found a reference to the "tape" that I probably remember. It is African American Folk Songs-Rhythms

I don't have a transcript of that tape. Nor do I have the tape or the record,But I'm singing that catchy, moderately uptempo song as I type this. The words are in a call & response pattern and goes something like this:

Not last night but the night before.
Who all is here?
Twenty four robbers at my door.
Who all is here?
I got up to let them in.
Who all is here?
Hit'em in the head with a rollin' pin.
Who all is here?

-snip-

Although I didn't realize this until rather recently, I believe that the song "Who All Is Here" was either sung, or was patterned after the rhymes that were sung by the person designated as "It" during the children's game of Hide & Go Seek. The more rhymes that were strung together, the longer the children playing had a chance to run and hide.   

The Georgia Sea Isle children's rhyme "All Hid" included on page 182 of the 1987 book Step It Down by Bessie Jones and Bess Lomax Hawes is an excellent example of the way that the person designated as it combined a number of children's rhymes together for recitation before chasing those children who were hiding. There are no "set" verses to this rhyme. Any rhyme that the person designated as "It" remembered or made up on the spot could be used, including the rhyme "Not Last Night But The Night Before".

Here's an online link to pages of that book:
Step It Down-Google Book

Unfortunately, my copy of that book is still hiding, so I can't post the words to that rhyme as given in the Step It Down book. That's just as well, since those words would have changed each time they were recited. But it's the use of children's rhymes and rhymes from other sources and the call & response pattern of the caller asking "Is all hid?" {which is a version of the "Are you ready?" that I remember using in my childhood" and the other children responding "No!" until the caller would say "Ready or not here I come".}

**

Btw, an online review of the book Stolen Childhood: Slave Youth in Nineteenth-Century America By Wilma King {published by Indiana University Press, 1998} indicates that "All Hid" was the name that 19th century African Americans in the South used for the children's running game that is most commonly called "Hide & Go Seek".

Here's a hyperlink to that book review.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 09:24 AM

I'm loving this information and example sharing! Thank you, pavane and Abdul The Bul Bul.

**

Btw, Abdul the Bul Bul, I love your name. It's rhythmic like a song. Um, do you mind if I ask what's a Bul Bul? I take it that if it means anything at all, "Bul Bul", it's something good.

And now that I mention it, I don't know what a "pavane" is either. But, I'm sure it's something good, too.

:o)


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Willa
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 09:44 AM

Oh - how you are all bringing back the memories!

Mo the caller 8 10 post; yes I remember all those.

Abdul - the flea verse, definitely

Our version of not last night was:

Not last night but the night before,
Two tom cats came knocking at the door,
I went downstairs to let them in and they hit me on the head with a rolling pin.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,CrazyEddie
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 09:54 AM

Ere last night, 7 the night before
Two jackasses came knockin' at my door.
I got up, and let them in
And then they dance the Highland Fling.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 01:01 PM

In Belfast in the '50's it was:

Mind last night?
Well, the night before,
Three wee monkeys came to our hall-door.
One had a fiddle, one had a drum,
And one had a pancake stuck to his bum!

Similar to a few other British versions.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: s&r
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 01:25 PM

Abdul the bulbul amir (sp?) was a humourous ballad by Percy French

Pavane is a stately dance

Stu


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Snuffy
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 03:17 PM

We had another rhyme that started differently but ended with the pancake.

Bonfire Night, the stars are bright
Three little angels dressed in white
One had whisky, one had rum,
And one had a pancake stuck to his bum!

It might have been fairies, not angels, and I'm not sure why a pancake would be available in November, but these rhymes don't have to make sense.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 03:58 PM

Azizi,

I probably learned this rhyme on a playground jumping rope, and it is probably closer to the Alabama one, but the referents in use are different. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest so the objects and places and food would be different. It still hasn't popped forward into retrievable memory yet, but that one from Joi strikes more of a chord with me.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 07:40 AM

Thanks for your examples & examples!

Here's a slightly different example of these lines used in a jump rope rhyme:

Not Last Night But The Night Before (Jump Rope Rhyme)
Submitted by: Jill
Author: Unknown

Not last night but the night before,
Twenty-four robbers came knocking at my door.
As I ran out, they ran in,
Hit them over the head with the frying pan

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11...

http://www.scrapbook.com/poems/doc/2937/391.html

-snip-

Usually words that say "run out/run in" indicate that the person who is jumping jumps out of the rope and a new person jumps in. However, I'm not sure that's the case for this rhyme. Reciting numbers usually indicate how many jumps the person in the middle makes before missing.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 08:34 AM

In contrast, here's an example of a rhyme that includes the line "last not but the night before":

Down down baby, down by the rollercoaster Sweet sweet baby, I'll never let you go Shimmy shimmy cocoa pop, shimmy shimmy rock Shimmy shimmy cocoa pop, shimmy shimmy rock I like coffee, I like tea, I like a boy and he likes me So step off boy but don't be shy cuz I bet you five dollars you're gunna cry Last night or the night before, I met my boyfriend at the candy store He bought me ice-cream, he bought me cake He sent me home with a stomach ache Mama mama, I feel sick Call the docter, quick quick quick! Docter, docter, am I gunna die? Close your eyes and count to five 1,2,3,4,5- I'M ALIVE!!!!!!
-Noelle R.; 3/2/2008; http://www.cocojams.com/games_children_play.htm

-snip-

This rhyme is usually performed while doing partner handclaps. However, on my website I posted it on the "game songs and movement rhymes" page since the "standard" words for the "Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pa {or similarly spelled words} involve imitative movements.

For the record, here's an example of the words that are usually published in books for the children's rhyme "Shimmy Shimmy CoCo Pa":

Down down baby, down by the roller coaster
Sweet sweet baby, I'll never let you go
Shimmy shimmy coco puff shimmy shimmy wow
Shimmy shimmy coco puff shimmy shimmy wow
Grandma grandma sick in bed, she called the doctor and the doctor said:
Let's get the rhythm of the head, Ding Dong (move your head from left to right), lets get the rhythm of the head Ding Dong (move your head from left to right)
Let's get the rhythm of the hands (clap twice),
Let's get the rhythm of the hands (clap twice),
Let's get the rhythm of the feet(stomp twice),
Let's get the rhythm of the feet (stomp twice),
Let's get the rhythm of the hot dog,
Let's get the rhythm of the hot dog,
Put it all together and what do you get (repeat the rhythms)
-a_MaidensPrayer; reposted on Cocojams from http://blog.oftheoctopuses.com/000518.php; 3/7/2005

-snip-

Note: This rhyme is also known as "Down Down Baby".


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 08:56 AM

Some "Down Down Baby"/"Shimmy Shimmy Coco Pa" rhymes are also known as "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" if that verse is used in that rhyme.

For the record, here is a post 1980s {?} example of this rhyme:

Zing, Zing, Zing,
and ah 1-2-3.
I like coffee, I like tea.
I like a black boy and he likes me.
So step back, white boy, you don't shine.
I'll get the black boy to beat your behind.

Last night and the night before.
I met my boyfriend at the candy store.
He bought me ice cream he bought me cake.
He brought me home with a belly ache.

Mama, mama, I feel sick
Call the doctor, quick, quick, quick
Doctor, doctor, will I die?
Close your eyes and count to five
1-2-3-4-5
I'm Alive!

See that house up on the hill.
That's where me and my baby live.
Eat a piece of meat
Eat a piece of bread.
Come on baby. let's go to bed
- Kayla {5 years old}; 2000
collected by Azizi Powell, Fort Pitt Elementary School, Pittsburgh, PA, 2000}; http://www.cocojams.com/handclap_rhymes.htm


-snip-

Note: "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" {also known as "I Like Coffee I Like Tea"} handclap rhymes are unique among contemporary English language children's rhymes from the USA because of their references to race. This is a marked change from the "standard" versions of this children's rhyme. The standard version {meaning the version of this rhyme that is usually published in books} contains no references to race and no contentious encounters between the children. But these rhymes are also unique just because of their reference to race, a topic which is seldom mentioned in other children's rhymes that I have collected from {mostly} African American children, teens, and adults over the last twenty years.

Based on the number of examples that have been sent to my website on children's rhymes in the last five years, and also based on the examples that I have read elsewhere on the Internet, these versions of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" are rather widely known throughout the USA. In each of the examples that I've heard {in Western and Eastern Pennsylvania} and that I've read online, a Black girl rejects the offer of romantic friendship from a White boy and boasts that he doesn't shine*. The Black girl then threatens that White boy by saying she will get a Black boy to beat his behind**. It should be noted that to date, I haven't heard or read any example of this rhyme that contains the pattern of a White girl saying "step back Black boy". I have read one example in which the lines are "Step back White girl, you don't shine/I'mma get a Black boy to beat your behind". It's important to note that I've not found any examples of this "racialized" version of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" in any off-line publication {books, magazines}, though examples of this version may be included in children's folklore journals.

The pattern for this "racialized" version of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" indicates to me that it originated among Black people. That said, I've read online examples of this book that appear to have been recited by White children since they use the racial referent "colored boy", a racial referent that has been retired by African Americans for forty years or so {except for its retention in names of some organizations, especially the NAACP}. However, I that conclusion may not always be valid. For instance, I received an example of this rhyme that used the term "colored boy" from a Latino woman who indicated that she remembered the rhyme from her childhood in a Black/Latino borough of New York City in the 1990s.

I don't think that the use of the old referent {"colored"} means that the examples are from the time when that term was used as a group or individual referent by African Americans. Were that the case, it seems to me that some examples of that rhyme would have been included or referenced in books of American children's rhymes that were published during those decades or since. That doesn't appear to be the case.

I believe that the racial referents that are widely found in these contemporary versions of "I Love Coffee, I Love Tea" rhymes reflect & document the racial tensions that were {are being?} experienced in newly integrated schools and/or other newly integrated social settings. For more commentary and examples of this rhymes, visit here.

* My interpretation of "don't shine" is that the girl is saying that the boy doesn't measure up to her standards; he's not someone whose personality or physical being shines brightly.

** "Beat your behind" means "fight you"; "beat you up"


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 09:57 AM

Clarification:

I wrote "post 1980s {?}" because it appears that the racialized versions of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" are from the 1980s on. They might even be from the 1990s on. As one small sample, my daughter doesn't remember her or her friends using any racial referents in this version of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" that they did handclaps to in the mid to late 1980s.

Also, it should be noted that "standard" versions of "I Love Coffee I Love Tea" are usually categorized in books and on the Internet as jump rope rhymes.

As a matter of fact, the pattern for the performance activity of many children's rhymes is from jump rope rhyme to handclap rhyme and not vice versa.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Oct 08 - 01:28 PM

Here's the example of "last night and the night before" that contains a female target for racialized* interaction.

I'm posting this for the sake of the historical record, and to provide yet another example of a contemporary children's rhyme that is made up of several independent** rhymes and which includes the line "last night and the night before".

* I'm not sure if "racialized" is even a word. What I mean by it is an example or situation which adds the issue of race when that issue may not have previously been there before.

** "Independent rhymes are those that can be recited by themselves, though they also can be used in combination with other rhymes. Another term for independent rhymes are "stand alone verses".

[Btw, I'm writing this last comment in particular for those who might happen upon this thread by way of a search engine and may not know these terms. I believe that most Mudcatters know more than me what an independent verse or rhyme is.


eeney meeney dessemenney
shoo ba tumbaleeney
ochy cochy liberache
i love you
take a peach, take a plum
take a stick of bubble gum
no peach no plum
no stick of bubble gum
i like coffee i like tea
i like the other girl and she likes me
so stand back white girl don't be shy
i'll get another girl to kick your behind
last night and the night before looked through your peephole and guess what i saw
you didn't wash the dishes lazy
you didn't flush the toilet nasty
you jumped out the window you must be crazy
thats why we call you
ochy cochy liberachy i love you
-jenn (jenijenn) on Tuesday, November 12, 2002

http://www.streetplay.com/discus/ Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop

-snip-

Imo, the above rhyme is made up of the following parts:

1. The first independent verse begins with "eeney meeney dessemenney" and ends with "i love you.". This verse serves as an introduction to what probably is a handclap rhyme. In my observations, the handclap actions for the introduction are usually different than the handclap actions for the rest of the rhyme. For instance, two girls may face each other and while reciting the introduction, they hold each other hands, and swing them from right to left in time with the rhyme. At the conclusion of the introdcution, the girls might perform a right hand/left hand slap alternating with clapping their own hands.

2. The second independent rhyme begins with "take a peach and ends with "no stick of bubble gum."

3. The third independent rhyme begins with "i like coffee i like tea" and ends with the word "behind."

4. The fourth independent rhyme begins with "last night and the night before" and ends with the line "looked through your peephole and what guess what I saw. The words "guess what I saw" acts as a seque into the last independent verse.

5. The fifth independent verse starts with "you didn't wash the dishes lazy lazy" and ends with "you jumped out the window you must be crazy"

6. The rhyme finishes with the ending phrase "thats why we call you
ochy cochy liberachy i love you'. This ending echoes the introductory verse.

Fwiw, each of these "independent verses" noted above are commonly found in online collections of contemporary {USA} English language children's rhymes where the examples are submitted by children and youth themselves and not by an adult posting rhymes that are are the remembrances of other adults. However, also for what it's worth, I haven't found many examples of rhymes that end by echoing the introductory lines as this one does.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 13 Oct 08 - 07:58 PM

Here's the example of the hide &go seek rhyme "All Hid" that I referenced in my 07 Oct 08 - 09:18 AM post to this thread:


All Hid

Call
Last nigh
Night before
Twenty-five blackbirds
at my door.
I got up
Let 'em in
Hit 'em in the head
With a rolling pin.
All hid!

Response
All hid!

Call
All hid!

Response
All hid!

All
5, 10, 15, 20, all hid, hid

Call
25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, all hid.

Response
All hid!

Call
All hid!

Response
All hid!

All
5, 10, 15, 20, all hid, hid

Call
65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100 all hid.

Response
All hid

All
5, 10, 15, 20, all hid, hid

Call
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the
candlestick.
Little boy blue, come blow your horn, sheep in the
meadow, cows in the corn.
Tom, Tom the piper's son, stole a pig and away je run.
Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, had a wife but couldn't keep
her.
Juba this and Juba that, Juba stole a yellow cat.
I spy in pocketful of rye, how many blackbirds in my pie?
All hid!

Response
All hid

All
5, 10 15, 20, all hid, hid


Step It Down: Games, Plays, Songs and Stories from the Afro-American Heritage, Bessie Jones and Bess Lomax Hawes,University of Georgia Press; 1987; page 182


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Jill
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 10:07 PM

I know I'm coming late to this conversation, but the version I heard from my Scottish father was a Halloween rhyme, most appropriate for this week. The first line escapes me but the rest is:
........... Halloween,
Three wee witches on the green,
One with a fiddle,
One with a drum,
and one with a pancake tied to her bum.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 11:44 PM

Jill, thanks for sharing your memory of that rhyme.

I'm glad that you think of these Mudcat threads as conversations.
I think of them that way too.

In the four years that I've been coming to Mudcat, I've noticed how some threads-like this one-will seemingly end, only to be revived for a short time again & again. Sometimes people have "refreshed" archived threads and added comments to them after five years or more. That's the beauty of Mudcat's archived thread system. And for that, I-and others I'm sure- give thanks to Max, Joe Offer, and who ever else is responsible for conceptualizing, developing, and managing this discussion forum.

Best wishes and Happy Halloween!

-Azizi


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: North/South Annie
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 07:35 PM

I heard the same two rhymes as Abdul the Bul Bul - practically word for word when I was a child in the 1950's in Yorkshire.
Annie


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 11:16 PM

Thanks for sharing that demographical information, North/South Annie.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: quokka
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 05:42 AM

Woody Guthrie wrote a song in 1946 called 'Walt Whitman's Niece' which appeared on the 1998 album MERMAID AVENUE (Billy Bragg and Wilco)

WALT WHITMAN'S NIECE

Last night or the night before that
I won't say which night
A seaman friend of mine
I'll not say which seaman
Walked up to a big old building
I won't say which building
And would not have walked up the stairs
Not to say which stairs
If there had not have been two girls
Leaving out the names of those two girls

I recall a door, a big long room
I'll not tell which room
I remember a deep blue rug
but I can't say which rug
A girl took down a book of poems
Not to say which book of poems
And as she read, I laid my head
And I can't tell which head
Down in her lap, and I can't mention which lap

My seaman buddy and girl moved off
After a couple of pages and there I was
All night long, laying and listening
And forgetting the poems.
And as wll as I could recall,
Or my seaman buddy could recollect,
My girl had told us that she was a niece
Of Walt Whitman, but not which niece,
And it takes a night and a girl
And a book of this kind
A long long time to find its way back

WORDS: Woody Guthrie 1946
MUSIC: Billy Bragg 1997

Now, is it just me, or is this song 'NOT' really about a book of poems?? *wink wink nudge nudge*

Cheers,

Quokka


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 08:37 AM

That's a great catch, Quokka! Thanks for sharing it!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: quokka
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 09:09 AM

you're very welcome, Azizi. nice to hear from you.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,daystar
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 09:33 AM

This one learnt from my mother who came from the north east of England
Not last night but the night before
Three tom cats cane knocking at my door
One had a poker the other had a drum the other had a pancake tied to his bum
Went down staires to let them in they knocked me down with a rolling pin
Rolling pin was made of cotten
knocked me down and spanked my bottem
Sounds abit silly now but as children we use to laugh as it was considered rude then I dont think I have ever put it in the written word before so it might not scan well


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night ButThe Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 31 Oct 08 - 10:01 AM

I've never read that "Rolling pin was made of cotten/
knocked me down and spanked my bottem" line before.

Thanks for sharing it and also for including the geographical location, daystar!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Nov 08 - 07:49 AM

bonfire night, stars are bright, three little angels dressed in white, one had a willy, one had a bum, and the other had a condom stuck on his thumb ;) ..

Made by Paula + Shoni ;) x


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Abdul The Bul Bul
Date: 04 Nov 08 - 07:40 AM

Hi N/S Annie. Well.... I'm from York born 1948 and lived there/Dunnington/Barmby Moor till moving to Whitstable bout 27 ago. Mum and Dad were born in York and moved as above.

The rolling pin bit in daystars msg rings a bell too.
Incidentally, I caught the 17 yr old out with it again last week.
You know last night?.......

Al


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,marespooscats
Date: 04 Nov 08 - 11:27 AM

I was looking this up because I saw and heard it on tv. BUT I heard it this way:

Not last night but the night before
24 Monkeys came a knocking at my door
As they ran in - I ran out
and this is what they said to me -

Problem IS I don't know the rest of it.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 10:46 PM

my grampy used to say
NOT LAST NIGHT BUT THE NIGHT BEFORE 3 TOM CATS CAME KNOCKING AT MY DOOR I WENT DOWNSTAIRS TO LET THEM IN AND THEY HIT ME ON THE HEAD WITH A ROLLING PIN, THE ROLLING PIN WAS MADE OF GLASS AND I WENT TUMBILING ON THE GRASS. ( SOMETIMES HE WOULD CHANGE IT TO ... TUMBILING ON MY ARSE) LOL thank you for memories


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 08:53 AM

Thanks to all who have posted to this thread.

Happy Holidays!

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,John h
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 11:36 AM

Here's a Hull version of the two tom cats; My mother waited till I was about fifty years old before revealing the full version of verse two...Not for more delicate readers.

You know last night, the night before,
Two tom cats came knocking at the door.
I went downstairs to let them in,
They hit me on the head with a rolling pin.

I went upstairs to get into bed,
They threw the pisspot at my head.
I went downstairs to dry my shimmy,
Fell in the fire and burnt my jimmy.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 11:54 AM

LOL!

I didn't know that "shimmy" was another word for "butt". And children in some cultures might not know what you meant by "jimmy". They might think you meant that you burnt a boy named Jimmy...

Well, maybe not...


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 05:31 PM

"Shimmy" is a corruption of chemise, and means a thin night gown or similar garment (Scroll down the Wikipedia article to Modern usage of the term)


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 06:49 PM

Oh, that's right. I had forgotten that. Thanks, Snuffy.

I've read that in the olden days males as well as females wore nightgowns. I guess but did they call them "chemises"? {if that's the plural of "chemise"} But I thought that chemise were only worn by females? How can a person wearing a chemise have a jimmy?


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Weasel
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:01 PM

In the version I learnt as a kid it was:

You know last night, you know the night before
Three little nigger boys come to our door
One 'ad a thrumpet, one 'ad a drum
And t'other 'ad a poncake stuck to 'is bum).


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:16 PM

Since in this day and age that version is considered inappropriate, how would (or would you?) perform it? What substitutions would you consider appropriate?

SRS


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Weasel
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 03:45 PM

I wouldn't dream of performing it at all nowadays nor of teaching it to kids, but when we were kids it was just a rhyme and meant as little to us as all the other versions. I mentioned it because no-one else had.

Cheers


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: mg
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 08:24 PM

Here is what we did in Longview, Washington, USA in the mid 50s..

Not last night but the night before
24 Spaniards (gypsies?) came knocking at my door
Asked them what they wanted this is what they said
Spanish dancers do the splits
Spanish dancers give a high kick
Spanish dancers turn around
Spanish dancers leave the town


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:00 AM

Weasel, though I admit that I cringed when I got to the "n word" in your example, I think that it's important to collect examples of children's playground rhymes that include racial referents.

This could be an interesting research project for some folklorist/s. Imo, such projects include racial/ethnic demographical information about the individuals who remember these rhymes.

In my opinion, studying these types of children's rhymes could tell us something about "the ways things were" {and hopefully not the way things still are}. But those kind of research projects can't happen if people don't collect these types of rhymes.

That said, I have an entirely different view of actually singing children's rhymes that contain derogatory racial references or rhymes that put down other races/ethnicities/religious groups etc.

Even if the rhyme has is associated with happy memories of your childhood, I don't think it should be passed down to another generation of children unless it's words are "cleaned up" {such as what occured with the "Eenie Meenie Minie Mo" counting out rhyme}.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:05 AM

Correction-

Imo, such projects should include racial/ethnic demographical information about the individuals who remember these rhymes.

Also, sorry. I forgot to say thanks to Weasel. Thanks also, mg, for sharing that example and including demographical information.

mg, I've read the Spanish dancer version before, but hadn't associated the Spanish dancers with Gypsies [meaning the Spanish dancers were Gypsies?}. Or are you saying that the rhyme said "Gypsy dancers" instead of saying "Spanish dancers"?


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 11:07 AM

I have an old version where cats not robbers come through the door.

No last nicht but the nicht afore
three black cats cam' roarin' at the door
Ane got whiskey, ane got rum,
An' ane gat the dish-clout o'er his bum.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 11:45 AM

Thanks for sharing that version, Guest 21 Jan 09 - 11:07 AM.

In case someone else besides me needed this information, because the word "clout" was unfamiliar to me, I looked its meaning up online. Apparently it means clout "a blow, especially with the fist". And "bum" as used here means "butt".

[Which goes to show you that "English" English isn't always the same as "American" English]


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:58 PM

Don't place too much trust in online dictionaries. A clout in this context is a cloth, and a 'dish-clout' is a piece of fabric used for wiping and/or drying dishes. Nowadays more commonly 'tea-towel' or 'dish-rag'; 'clout' in that sense is a bit old fashioned and used chiefly in Scotland and the north of England.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:33 PM

Malcolm thanks for that reminder.

Before I posted that, I was wondering if 'clout' could mean 'dish cloth'.

So does "An' ane gat the dish-clout o'er his bum" mean "And got a dish cloth on his bum"?

Does this mean that the person was swiped with a dish cloth for being impertinent or for some other reason?


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Gibb
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 12:21 AM

Stumbled on this because I was remembering the "I like coffee, I like tea" clapping rhyme, and wondering what the ol' Mudcat had to say.

I went to elementary school starting in 1980, in Bloomfield, Connecticut (adjacent to Hartford). The girls (including my sister) did clapping games on the bus everyday it seemed, and when they hung out in the street, etc. Demographic note: my family is White; Blacks (including many Jamaicans) are a majority in the town, and were most of our playmates.

The version to this one went:
"I like coffee, I like tea
I like a Black/White boy an' he likes me
So step back White/Black boy, you don't shine
I'll get a Black/White boy to beat your behind."

The girls would switch the race of the boy, depending on who was singing. Sometimes there'd be confusion if a White and a Black girl were playing together, and they'd sort of get jumbled up on that word and try to push their version. Sometimes they would agree on a skin tone based on a previous conversion about who the girl whose "turn" it was actually "likes." The reason why I remember distinctly that they did it both ways was that as a little kid I tried to imagine what "you don't shine" meant. I'd try to reason what skin tone "shined" more! Needless to say, I never figured it out!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 05:05 AM

Hello, Gibb.

Thanks for sharing your remembrances of girls chanting this handclap rhyme, including adding demographical information. This example is the first one that I have found that mentions the problems that can occur when this rhyme is clapped by two or more girls of different races. And in a lot of ways, I think that dilemma is progress toward lessening the confrontation between races that is reflected in this rhyme.

Here's my take on that "you don't shine" phrase:

In this context, "shine" means to be as radiant as the sun or stars. Saying "you don't shine" to a boy means that you don't think that he is anything special (in looks, and/or in actions, or in his very being) as he or she thinks he is. Perhaps that use of "shine" comes from the outer (or inner glow) that people are said to have because of their auras or their spirit. Theorectically , the aura* of a good or great person shines brighter than that of a person who is evil or ordinary. And a charismatic person would be described as shining brightly.

A somewhat related use of "shine" is when a person says "I took a "shine" to him (meaning "I liked him").

*auras are usually unseen colored lights that surround a person's body; the different colors are said to reflect the person's thoughts and feelings.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 05:55 AM

Hello, again Gibbs.

I'm writing to let you know that I took the liberty of reposting the "I Like Coffee I Like Tea example on this Mudcat thread:

thread.cfm?threadid=100653
Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes*

*In some parts of the USA anyway, "Down Down, Baby" is a commonly used contemporary name for the "I Like Coffee I Like Tea" ["I Love Coffee I Love Tea"] family of rhymes.

**

Also, Gibbs, I plan to edit a book (sometime) on examples of this rhyme, and as per the agreement that I have with Mudcat founder/owner Max Spiegel and Mudcat chief moderator, Joe Offer regarding use of guests posts, I intend to include your post in that collection.

Fwiw, the first book that I will publish will focus on examples of "Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky" rhymes. Many of those examples came from guests posts to this Mudcat thread:

Origins: Down By The Banks Of The Hanky Panky

**
To you Gibbs, and to all guests whose posts I have included and will include in these (projected) folkloric collections of children's rhymes, and to the members whose prior permission/s I have received to include their posts, I give my sincerest thanks!!

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Elderly Fellow
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 02:52 PM

I found this one in the Menu of a Hotel restaurant in Inverness, UK.

"Not last night, but the night before, Two little Kittens came knocking at my door, One had a Trumpet, One had a Drum, And one had a Pancake, stuck to his Bum".

That sounds to me like a Girl's Skipping rope chant.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Gibb
Date: 05 Mar 09 - 10:10 PM

Hi Azizi,

Sounds like a cool book/project! It will be especially interesting to hear your analyses of these rhymes in terms of their possible impact on ethnic/racial dynamics, as you suggested. It would be an understatement to say that in that particular town (in which I grew up till age 8) there was some sort of (atypical?) transformation going on with respect to people's ethnic/racial attitudes.   For one, it was a majority African-American suburb in the Northeast. Second, it had recently been awarded the title of an "All American City," which I believe is usually given out based on perception of diversity. We even had a town song, which we sang in school, that bragged about being an "All American City."

Of course, as a kid I never thought about these things at the time. When recently I mentioned, to my parents, my memory of my fondness for the song "Ebony and Ivory," which I'd sing to myself for hours while swinging on swings, they laughed and said "It figured!"--something about that town I guess, a vibe (an agenda?) that I wouldn't have noticed being born there, but must have struck them as different from the (other) towns/environments they grew up in.

Hopefully sometime soon I'll get a chance to ask my sis (2-3 years my senior) about some of the rhymes she remembers.

Gibb


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,alfred
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:01 PM

the one i heard was:not last night but the night before,24 n-words knocked on my door,ran upstairs to get my gun,tripped on the toilet on the run,couldn't swim couldn't float,goddamn log went down my throat,ran downstairs to get a drink,smashed my balls on the kitchen sink..i forget the rest. my stepbrother taught it to me when i was 10 or so.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:19 PM

Guest, alfred, I've never seen or heard that example before.

Too bad you forgot to include geographical information and year or decade you learned it.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 09 - 06:00 PM

Not last night, the night before,
2 tom cats came knocking at the door.
I went down to let them in,
and they knocked me down with a rolling pin.
The rolling pin was made of brass,
they picked me up and smacked my ass.
I went up to get in bed,
and fell in the pi** pot,
heels over head.
I went down to clean my shirt,
a spark came off,
and burnt my firt!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Ang
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 06:45 AM

I remember from being little

"not last night but the night before
3 black cats cam knocking at the door
1 called Peter, 1 called Paul
but the third little pussy didn't have a name at all"

that's all I can remember but it ends with something like

"she took him in and he got fat
She called him Pat and that was that"


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Michelin Man
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 11:38 AM


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Michelin Man
Date: 05 Aug 09 - 11:40 AM

I heard the Skipping Rhyme submitted by 'Elderly man' almost 50 years ago. Sung by my daughters (East Yorkshire)

They got told off because it was rude.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Flash Company
Date: 06 Aug 09 - 10:56 AM

Somewhere in my record collection I have Fats Waller singing:-
Last night or the night before,
Twenty four robbers came to my door,
Opened the door and let them in,
Hit me on the head with a bottle of gin.
I warn you,
You'd better beware,
I warn you,
Those robber men are everywhere

Can't remember the rest but will look it up if anyone is interested

FC


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 09:01 AM

The way I remember it from the 70's is:

Not last night, but the night before
24 robbers came knocking at my door.

As I went out to let them in
They hit me on the head with a rolling pin.

I asked them what they wanted

And this is what they said:
Spanish Dancer do a kick, split

Turn around, touch the ground,
Get out of town!

Spanish Dancer, come right back
Sit on a tack
Read a book, but do not look!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 23 Aug 09 - 09:20 AM

Thanks to all who have posted to this thread.

Keep those examples coming!

**

Guest 23 Aug 09 - 09:01 AM, thanks for including a date with your example.

It would be great if people posting children's playground rhymes on this thread and on other threads would also include as much general demographical information as they can. By general demographical information I mean:

-where you learned or first heard the rhyme (city/state if in the USA, city, country if outside of the USA)

-when (year/decade you learned or first heard this rhyme such as 1970s, or mid 1990s)

-who (gender, age/s of persons chanting rhyme; the children's/youth's race/ethnicity would also be interesting to know)

Also, it would be helpful to include how the rhyme/song was performed (for instance, handclap rhyme, jump rope/skipping song)

Thanks again!

-Azizi


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,KM
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 08:17 PM

Not last night but the nigth before
24 robbers knocked at my door
i oppened up the door and let them in
then hit them on the head with a rolling pin
step back baby step back


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,matou
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 09:46 PM

Not last night but the night before,
A lemon and a pickle came knockin' at my door.
I went downstairs to let 'em in,
And they hit me on the head with a rollin' pin.

I was born in 1949. Washington,D.C. So, I must have heard it in the early '50's.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 10:15 PM

GUEST,KMm thanks for posting that example. That "step back baby step back line at the end adds an interesting rhythmic piece to that rhyme. I'm guessing that's a relatively new addition.

**

GUEST,matou, thanks also for sharing your example and sharing demographical information. Your version is the first time I've read or heard any food being the ones who came to the door. That's interesting.

**

By the way, this forum has lots of discussion threads about children's playground rhymes. Here's a link to another thread.
thread.cfm?threadid=4300
Children's Street Songs

When you click on that page, below that title, you'll find a number of other hyperlinked threads. I'm sorry that this particular discussion doesn't have any such list.

I hope guests will continue to visit here or join-since membership is free (click on the icon up the top near the right end of this page, and follow those instructions).

Thanks again!

Ms. Azizi


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 03:51 PM

1970's Liverpool, possibly from 1940's / 50's Liverpool

d'ya know last night?
dya know the night before?
three black cats came knockin' at the door
they said
If ya dont let us in
we'll knock the door in
and you won't see your mother or your father anymore.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Mo the caller
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 03:05 AM

The example posted on Aug 5th ending

1 called Peter, 1 called Paul
but the third little pussy didn't have a name at all"

is another example of the folk-magpie-process.

Those lines sound as if they are stolen from the souling rhyme (N.W. England). Which used to be recited door to door on All Souls Night, before American pumpkins took over.

Soul, a soul, a soulcake
Please good missus a soul cake
.....
One for Peter, one for Paul

Though thinking about it there was also a rhyme I learnt as a child in London c1950, which at the time I never associated with the apostles

2 little dickie birds sitting on a wall
1 named Peter 1 named Paul
Fly away Peter, fly away Paul.
Come back Peter, come back Paul.

It was a finger-play. Started with 2 fists with a finger up. When the birds fly away the fingers go behind the back, then come back again.
And one for him who made us all.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Mo the caller
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM

There was a misplaced line there. I'll repost it and maybe a moderator will delete the other.

The example posted on Aug 5th ending

1 called Peter, 1 called Paul
but the third little pussy didn't have a name at all"

is another example of the folk-magpie-process.

Those lines sound as if they are stolen from the souling rhyme (N.W. England). Which used to be recited door to door on All Souls Night, before American pumpkins took over.

Soul, a soul, a soulcake
Please good missus a soul cake
.....
One for Peter, one for Paul
And one for him who made us all.

Though thinking about it there was also a rhyme I learnt as a child in London c1950, which at the time I never associated with the apostles

2 little dickie birds sitting on a wall
1 named Peter 1 named Paul
Fly away Peter, fly away Paul.
Come back Peter, come back Paul.

It was a finger-play. Started with 2 fists with a finger up. When the birds fly away the fingers go behind the back, then come back again.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Shailvi
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 04:34 AM

The version i heard goes like...

Not last night but the night before
24 mothers came knocking at my door..
I went down to let them in...
i hit them on the head with a rolling pin..
Some ran east and some ran west...
the rest flew ova the Cookoo's nest..

or something like that...
and in between each line, it was like the audience say
* step back baby step back...


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 05:24 PM

Thanks for that example, GUEST,Shailvi.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Sara
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 05:29 PM

I just found this thread my grandmother used to always say this rhyme my mom said she believes it was a jump rope song from when she was a kid... My grandmothers mom was from England, but my grandmother was from here (New Jersey, USA).. anyway the version I know and love is:
Not last night but the night before
a pickle and a lemon came knockin on my door
I ran down stairs to let them in
they hit me over the head with a rolling pin
I ran upstairs to get my gun
you oughta see the pickle and the lemon run


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,mikey
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 10:08 AM

i got it from a book.


Not Last night but the night before
three young tomcats cam to my door
one had a fiddle and one had a drum
and one had a pancake stuck to his bum!

thats it thats all bye


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 03:55 AM

Not last night, but the night before
Twenty-Four dicks came knockin' at my door
I went down stairs to let one in
He hit me on the head with a rolling pin

Now, the rolling pin was made out of brass
Fell off the table and broke my arse
So, I went up stairs to go to bed
And a bucket of shit fell on my head


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 06:11 AM

Dear Azizi,

If you are still collecting kids' skipping (jump rope) rhymes, here are three I remember from a "misspent" (BG) childhood -

One, two, three
Mother caught a flea.
She put in the tea pot
To make a cup of tea.
The flea jumped out -
Mother shouted out
"Here comes a copper (police man)
With his arse hanging out!".

Red, White and Blue-
The dirty kangaroo
Went behind the dustbin
To do a number two.

(dustbin = trash can ; I don't need to explain number two, do I ?)

Red, White and Yeller
Me mother had a feller.
The feller died, me mother cried
Red, White and Yeller.


Kindest, Bryn


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 06:21 AM

Sory, Azizi, I hadn't noticed that the first one had been posted previously. To make up for this here is a rhyme we used to sing (?) on Pancake Tuesday :

Pancake Tuesday, a very happy day
If you don't give us a holiday, we'll all run away.
Where shall we run to ? Down Cotton Lane !
Here comes Teacher with a big fat cane!
Eating toffees, cracking nuts,
Swallowing pancakes down her guts.

Cotton Lane was the street on which the reformatory - sorry - infants and juniors school - which I attended, was to be found.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Ty Thomas
Date: 26 Apr 10 - 03:31 PM

This is so funny to me. This past weekend my cousin & I were trying to teach our daughters the jump rope & hand games we played as kid's & we were haveing a hard time remmembering this one, but we finally got it. We jumped rope to this rhyme

Not last night but the night before.
25 robbers came knocking at my door
As I ran out (we would run out the rope)
They ran in (we would run back into the rope)
They hit me on th ehead with the rolling pin.
I asked them why they did it, and this is what they said.
Jonny struck a match and the match went out but the bottom of the match was still sticking out.

The end of the rhyme makes no since to me at all but it was a fun game to play w my cousin's and friends.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,ASeparateReality
Date: 20 May 10 - 12:50 PM

Not last night but the night before,
24 robbers came a knocking at my door,
I went out to see who it was,
and what do you think they said to me...

Lady, lady, turn around,
lady, lady, touch the ground,
lady, lady, show your shoes,
lade, lady, that will do.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,swilliams
Date: 22 May 10 - 04:35 PM

yall all saying it wrong


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Avaree
Date: 24 May 10 - 06:18 PM

Not last night but the night before
twenty four robbers came knocking at my door,
as i ran out, they ran in
and hit me on the head with a rolling pin,
i asked them what they wanted,
and this is what they said,
chinese lady turn around,
chinese lady touch the ground,
chinese lady do a high kick,
chinese lady get out of here quick!

~hope this helps


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Ron in Montreal
Date: 25 May 10 - 09:16 PM

This is the version I heard in the 1950's from my Scotish ancestors living in the Gaspe region of Quebec Canada.

Not last night but the night before
Three big tomcats came to my door
They knocked at the door and I let them in
I knocked them down with a rolling pin
...

There was more but I do not remember.

It is truly amazing how this rhyme circulated (and changed) through so many cultures and countries
- and all before the internet.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,unknown
Date: 31 May 10 - 08:35 AM

Not last night but the night before
24 robbers came knocking at my door
I went downstairs to let them in
and this is what they said to me

Ballerina ballerina turn around
Ballerina ballerina touch the ground
Ballerina ballerina do the splits
Ballerina ballerina count to six


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,kath uk
Date: 28 Jun 10 - 04:45 AM

My grandmas version in the early 60's was;

Not last night but the night before,
Three Tom cats came knocking at the door.
One had a fiddle,
One had a drum,
One had a poker sticking up his bum!
(North East England, aprox 1962)

Never forgot it cos my mum went mad at her for teaching me a rude song!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Rog
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 03:23 PM

NOT LAST NIGHT BUT THE NIGHT BEFORE
2 TOM CATS CAME KNOCKING ON MY DOOR
I OPENED THE DOOR TO LET ME IN AND
THEY HIT ME ON THE HEAD WITH A
ROLLING PIN,THE ROLLING PIN WAS MADE
OF BRASS THEY TURNED ME UPSIDE DOWN
AND SMACKED MY ARSE.
I WENT OUTSIDE TO GET SOME COAL AND
A BLOODY GREAT RAT RAN UP MY WHOLE
(HEARD AT SCHOOL IN PORTSMOUTH 1950'S


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 05:41 PM

100


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,whitney
Date: 22 Nov 10 - 08:59 PM

last night, the night before, an onion and a pickle came knockin on the door. i got up to let them in. they hit me in the head with a bowling pin. i ran upstairs to get my gun...boy you should have seen them run. one went east one went west. one went up my mommas dress. mommas havin a baby a new born chocolate baby. if its a boy give it a toy if its a girl give it a curl. wrap it up in toilet paper set it in the elevator. first floor stop..rock the baby etc...to twelve. and freeze. the first to unfreeze loses.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,J.W.
Date: 12 Dec 10 - 01:36 PM

apples on a stick sure make me sick makes my heart go 246 246,not because i'm dirty not because i'm clean not because i kiss a boy behind a magizine,hey look over there hear come ur granny in her underwear she can wibble she wobble she can do the splits i bet ya 5 dollars she can't do this close ur eyes and count to ten if u mess up you gotta kiss her boyfreind 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10. :D


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,meee
Date: 09 Jan 11 - 08:34 PM

Im from Mass and in the 80's we use to say not last night but the night before a nickel and a pickle came knocking at my door I woke up to let them in... sorry I dont remember the rest.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,pitt
Date: 18 Jan 11 - 04:47 PM

Not last night but the night before
Three black niggers came knocking at my door
I opened the door to let them in
They hit me over the head with a rolling pin
The rolling pin was made of brass
It turned right over and hit my ass
I went upstairs to go to bed
A hunk of shit fell on my head
I went downstairs to get a drink
Fell on the stove and burnt my dink
Went outside to cool off
God damn nigger went and blew it off


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 24 Jan 11 - 06:04 PM

not last night but the night before three tom cats came knocking at me door went down stairs to let them in hit me over the head with a rolling pin the rolling pin was made of glass took three slices off my arse, went up stairs to get in bed knocked the piss bowl over my head went down stairs to get some coal dirty great rat ran up my hole. not sure if there was more.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 11 - 01:37 PM

The rhyme is one of the 38 verses I have for the song, chorus of which is
"Early [earleye] in the morning [x3]
Before the break of day."
37 are rude! I'm sure there are loads more.

Many of the versions of the tomcats were playground clapping / skipping games I heard in the playground of my primary school between 1958 and 1964 in Ashton-on-Mersey, Sale, Cheshire.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Pauly in Oz
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 01:46 AM

In the 70's in Melbourne Australia we had.
Not last night but the night before
10 big niggers came knocking on the door
Went downstairs to let them in
They hit me with a rolling pin
The rolling pin was made of brass
and ht me fair across my ass
Went upstairs to light the fire
Dick got shocked by an electric wire

This then sort of merged -I forget the transition, into the rhyme one fine day in the middle of the night
Sorry for any offense.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 10:43 PM

In the early 90'S, in country South Australia, i remember singing

Not last night but the night before. 24 RObbers came knocking on the door. I went out to let them in and this is what they said to me,, chinese ladies turn around. chinese ladies touch the ground. Chinese ladies do high kicks, chinese ladies do the splits.

We also had a version that went chinese ladies dance like this, chinese ladies do the splits.

Here is 2 of our dibs poems, keep in mind we were in primary school an d had no idea what we were saying!

Ip dip dog sh$^%t, you are not it, not because you're dirty, not because youre clean. Not because you kiss the girls behind the magazines, O U T SPELLS OUT.

Eeeny meeny miny mo, catch a nigger by the toe, if he hollers, let him go, eeny meeny miny mo.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Christie
Date: 21 Mar 11 - 04:24 AM

My Grandfather for years was noted for his quirky little stories and ryhmes and i remember him saying this version

It was not last night but the night before
2 Tom cats came knocking at my door,
i went downstairs to let them in and they knocked me over with a rolling pin.

The Rolling pin was made of brass, so i turned around and kicked their arse


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Clive Pownceby
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 02:52 AM

Rufus Thomas' 'Jumpback' uses the "not last night etc." and the "24 robbers/rolling pin" phraseology in much the same way that other New Orleans R&B examples would draw on children's rhyming songs - 'Iko, Iko' fr'instance. One only has to think of Shirley Ellis' 'Clapping Song' to see how essentially, good-time 50/60s black music would go down this route when it was stuck for a lyric or two!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 03:32 PM

My mother used to sing this song to me when I was a child.
"Always in the way, I can never play.
That's all I remember of the song.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,scottsman
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 05:34 PM

not last night but the night before
3 wee monkeys came t' the door
one wit a fiddle, and one with a drum
and one with a pancake stuck to 'es bum


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 02 May 11 - 12:26 AM

Not last night but the night before,
Two tomcats came knocking at my door,
I opened the door to let them in
And they knocked me down with a rolling pin
The rolling pin was made of glass and I slipped right up on my
ELBOW.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Daphne, a baby boomer.
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 07:55 PM

Great memories here, thanks everyone for your contribution. The version in North West London when I was at school in the 50's was
Not last night but the night before
3 tomcats knocked at my door.
Opened the door to let them in
they hit me on the head with the rolling pin.
I went upstairs to make my bed they threw the potty at my head,


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 05:22 PM

I remember it used to be this...

Not last night but the night before,
Twenty-four robbers came knocking at my door,
Went downstairs to let them in,
This is what they said to me;
My name is...
Elvis Presley,
Girls are sexy,
Sitting in the background,
Drinking pepsi,
Having a baby,
Naming it Daisy,
Girls go 'Muah muah',
Boys go 'Wooh!'


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Sam A. Robrin
Date: 12 Sep 11 - 04:32 AM

I came here to get the rest of a Civil Rights - era crowd song that Pete Seeger references in an issue of BROADSIDE (#57, if you care to look it up):

Last night and the night before,
(Jump back, Wallace, jump back!)
Twenty-five troopers at my door,
(Jump back, Wallace, jump back!)
I got up and let 'em in....

Anyone know more about its use during the Alabama freedom marches?


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Azizi
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 02:12 PM

Sorry, GUEST,Sam A. Robrin. I've never heard or read that civil rights chant before finding it here. I'd also love to know more about it. As I'm sure you're aware, the "Wallace" mentioned in that chant is the then arch segregationist Alabama govern George Wallace.

The phrase "jump back baby jump back" probably was lifted from Rufus Thomas's hit 1964 R&B song "Jump Back". I don't know why I'm suprised, but a video of his performance of that song is on YouTube. Here's that link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPqcccmiOMc

Hat tip to GUEST,Clive Pownceby who posted information about that song in this threads on 22 Mar 11 - 02:52 AM.

Both Rufus Thomas' "Jump Back" and the civil rights chant that Pete Seeger referenced probably owe the "jump back baby jump back" phrase to the "jump back honey jump back" phrase in Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "A Negro Love Song" (published in 1895). The words to that poem are located on an number of sites, including my newest blog post http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2011/09/paul-laurence-dunbars-negro-love-song.html

I reposted your comment GUEST,Sam A. Robrin in that blog post with that hope that there might be some response from those readers. If so, I'll add it here.

Thanks and best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Dec 11 - 04:26 PM

Chinese verse

Not last night, but the night before,
two tomcats came knocking at my door;
I went downstairs to let them in,
They hit me on the head with a rolling pin,
The rolling pin was made of brass they picked me up and smacked my ask
No questions tell no lies have you ever seen a policeman doing up his flies
Are a nuisance bugs are worst that's the end of my Chinese verse.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,DUTCH
Date: 02 Jan 12 - 08:27 PM

In South Africa we learned this one...

NOT LAST NIGHT BUT THE NIGHT BEFORE
24 NIGGERS CAME KNOCKING AT MY DOOR
WENT OUTSIDE TO SCARE THEM OFF
GOT HIT OVER THE HEAD WITH A BAG OF ROCKS
RAN UPSTAIRS TO GET MY GUN
FELL IN THE TOILET ON THE RUN
COULDN'T SWIM, COULDN'T FLOAT
A PIECE OF SHIT WENT DOWN MY THROAT
FLEW DOWNSTAIRS TO GET A DRINK
TRIPPED ON THE STOVE AND BURNT MY DINK
WENT OUTSIDE TO COOL IT OFF
ONE BLOODY NIGGER CHEWED IT OFF
PICKED UP MY GUN AND AIMED MY BEST
SHOT THAT BLACKIE IN THE CHEST
NIGGERS WENT EAST NIGGERS WENT WEST
SOME EVEN FLEW OVER THE COO COO'S NEST
WENT INSIDE AND CLOSED THE DOOR
THIS IS LIFE OF AN AFRIKAANS BOER
SAUNTERED UPSTAIRS TO HAVE A NAP
THAT WAS MY NIGHT AND THAT WAS THAT


i didnt remember all the words, i had to ask a few friends and this is what we came up with...

bloody hell, how terrible these rhymes have progressed.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,MickeyWales
Date: 31 Mar 12 - 02:29 PM

Not last night, but the night before
Two tom cats came a knocking on my door.
I went down to let them in,
one knocked me down with a rolling pin
The rolling pin was made of glass
as i fell down i cut my A**E


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Big Jim
Date: 09 Apr 12 - 02:03 PM

What a shame! If any of you actually sang any of the racist song/poems you claimed to have sung as children, it's no wonder the world is so screwed up....

Here's a variation of "Last night...." I sang as a child:

Lat night, the night before
and ONION and a PICKLE came a knockin' at my door.
I got up to let 'em in,
they hit me over the head with a rollin' pin.
I went upstairs to git my gun,
you oughta seen that pickle and the onion run!
They jumped so high
they touched the sky, and
they didn't come back
'til the Fourth of July!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,bb
Date: 12 Jun 12 - 12:32 PM

My Dad used to sing this to me as a kid. He was from S. London (1940s). His version went

Not last night but the night before
two tom cats came knocking at my door
I went downstairs to let them in and they knocked me over with a rolling pin
the rolling pin was made of glass so I turned them over and smacked their arse
no questions hear no lies, ever seen a monkey doing up his flies
flies are a nuisance bugs are worse
and thats the end of my little verse!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Jessiiii B
Date: 03 Aug 12 - 04:50 PM

Not last night but the night before, 24 robbers came knocking at the door, I went downstairs to let one in, And one hit me over the head with a bowling pin, The bowling pin was made of glass, I fell and trip and broke my ass, I went upstairs to lay in bed, And a bucket of shit fell on my head, I went downstairs to light the fire, And my dick got caught in the electric wire, I went outside to cool it off, And the bloody bastard shot it off, I went to the doctor and the doctor said, SORRY MATE YOU BALLS ARE DEAD!!


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jan 13 - 02:17 AM


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 09:03 AM

'Last night the night before 12 bald hoes came knockin at the door i yelled out "you cant come in" !! dr. mirricle please help them they wuldnt go away i told them i was gay , but she said i gave her bessfrend some dick the other day they wuldnt leave me but since i had to pee i told them if they drunk it you can have my wee wee i went in them they had no walls i put em all out now i got blue balls


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 09:07 AM

Follow me on INSTAGRAM @trojanman_


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 09:09 AM

im butta butaa wadda wada to gutta gutaa


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Apr 13 - 03:08 AM

Norther California 1980's went like this:

Not last night but the night before, 28 niggers came knocking at my door. Went up stairs to get a gun, tripped over the toilet, could't swim, couldn't float, big old turd went down my throat. Went down stairs to get a stick, tripped over a radio and burnt my dick. Went out side to cool it off, Steve Wonder bit it off.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,shell
Date: 01 May 13 - 10:16 AM

Anyone know which horror book has the rhyme "Jack be nimble" in it please.
Premise is a guy finds if he places a lighted candle at a certain part of a wall then says the rhyme and jumps over the candle, he finds himself in another reality but they don't welcome strangers and they look for him with drummers banging their drums. Any help appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Q
Date: 01 May 13 - 12:26 PM

Vaguely remembered-

Not last night but the night before
I threw my wife out the bedroom door.

There was more, but it has escaped my leaky brain.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,toronto 1975
Date: 10 Jun 13 - 01:13 PM

not last night but the night before, 24 niggers came knocking at my door, i went downstairs to let them in, they rolled me over with a rolling pin,i went upstairs to get some gin and fell into the toilet up to my chin, i couldn't swim i couldn't float, a piece of shit went down my throat, i went downstairs to the electric fire, caught my dick in the electric wire, went outside to cool it off and a god damn nigger bit it off.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST,Will
Date: 29 Jul 13 - 08:47 AM

The one I remember, may be victorian as they made up silly verses.

No last night but the night before two Tom cats came knocking at my door.
Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot one another.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: Rumncoke
Date: 29 Jul 13 - 05:27 PM

That last line 'back to back' was in something my grandfather used to recite

It was a very long time ago now but it wasn't associated with that first line but (possibly) something something middle of the night, two dead men got up to fight.

I wonder if my sister can throw any light on it - I'll ask.

there was also, as a prologue

Little tumti tum esquire
set his britches bum on fire
by sitting on an electricity wire

And afterwards
feather ecor ecor icor, Elizabeth Ellen something something - which he said was someone's name.

and
Dan Dan the dustbin man,
washed his face in a frying pan
combed his hair with a rusty nail

He used to run all these different things together - and end with some lines from what I think was a mumming play for the character little devil doubt.

Naturally as a child I thought he was just being silly.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Dec 13 - 04:12 PM

one fine day in the middle of the night, 2 dead men got up to fight, back to back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other.


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Subject: RE: Not Last Night But The Night Before-rhyme
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Feb 14 - 09:44 AM

Last night, the night before, 49 robbers knocked on my door.
I went down stairs to let them in, they hit me on the head with a bowling pin.
It was big, it was brass, so they shoved it up my ass.

I went upstairs to get my gun, hit the pot on the run.
Couldn't swim, couldn't float, got a big turd down my throat.

Went down stairs to get a drink, bumped the stove, burned my dink.
Ran outside to cool it off, a big bull dog bit it off.

So when I die, bury me deep, hang my balls on a cherry tree.
When they're ripe, take a bite, don't blame me if you fart all night.


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