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'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...

DigiTrad:
A DANDY FOR NINETEEN YEARS OLD
AFTER THE BALL (Dismantled Bride)
AMONG MY SOUVENIRS
BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL BROWN EYES
OLD MAID AND THE BURGLAR
SIDE BY SIDE
VERY UNFORTUNATE MAN


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: (Never Said a) Solitary Word???? (7)
Lyr Req: Old Maid and the Burglar (from Wizz Jones (4)
Lyr Req: Billy Connolly parody: Help me make it... (5)
Lyr Req: Shilling, wooden leg, cant change it (12)
Lyr Req: She took out her bum glass eye (4)


marg_meikle@mindlink.bc.ca 01 Jun 97 - 09:08 PM
GUEST,richard 21 Nov 06 - 08:10 AM
Snuffy 21 Nov 06 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,JTT 21 Nov 06 - 09:36 AM
Deckman 21 Nov 06 - 09:37 AM
Charmion 21 Nov 06 - 09:38 AM
Snuffy 21 Nov 06 - 09:43 AM
EBarnacle 21 Nov 06 - 10:04 AM
Anne Lister 21 Nov 06 - 12:17 PM
John MacKenzie 21 Nov 06 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,Skelf 21 Nov 06 - 12:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Nov 06 - 12:56 PM
Snuffy 21 Nov 06 - 01:04 PM
Little Robyn 21 Nov 06 - 01:38 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Nov 06 - 03:31 PM
Rowan 21 Nov 06 - 04:39 PM
Q 21 Nov 06 - 09:29 PM
Long Firm Freddie 22 Nov 06 - 12:36 AM
GUEST,Charmion's brother Andrew 22 Nov 06 - 11:25 AM
Naemanson 22 Nov 06 - 03:28 PM
Bernard 22 Nov 06 - 07:53 PM
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Subject: Origins? - waved her wooden leg
From: marg_meikle@mindlink.bc.ca
Date: 01 Jun 97 - 09:08 PM

"Aha" she cried, and waved her wooden leg aloft!

... For eight years, I had a spot on a national radio show in Canada (CBC) where I answer questions posed by listeners. I was known as The Answer Lady. I've been off this year because of budget cuts, but The host of the show, Vicki Gabereau, is moving on, so I was asked back to the final wrap up show live in a theatre next weekend.

For about 7 years I have been plagued by the question, where did "Aha" she cried, and waved her wooden leg aloft! come from? It seems that a lot of women in Canada in their seventies or eighties now use that as in exclamation, like Eureka! Likely these are women whose families originated in England. Over the years I have collected a number of variations from radio listeners and when I do public talks. I am dying to solve this mystery as my swan song. Here are some of the variations:
    Aha she cried as she shook her wooden leg...
    but the villain he still pursued her

    Aha she said in childless glee as she shook her wooden leg aloft
    and her glass eye rolled noiselessly down her dress front into the sink.

    Manitoba 1930:
    Aha, she cried as aloft she waved her wooden leg
    and the price of timber went up.

    "Aha, aha," the maiden cried
    As she waved her wooden led and died,
    "at last I have been satisfied."

    It was on the bridge at midnight
    'er lips were all a 'quiver
    she coughed -- 'er wooden leg fell orf
    an 'floated down the river.

    Aha she cried in accents wild
    and waved her wooden leg aloft
    Tis false tis false
    and with her evil eye
    she swept the garden path.

Personally, I think it is from some sort of British Parlour Poetry or from a song. Does anyone know anything more? Thanks so much. And the Canadian radio listening public thanks you too... if I can pull this together this week I'll do in the show on Friday.

Marg Meikle
marg_meikle@mindlink.bc.ca


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,richard
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 08:10 AM

I remember reading a response to this on the Poetry Society noticeboard in London in the early eighties.
Searching for more information on its origins someone had written up 'No answer came the bold reply' which was an idiom or quote used by people when, (obviously), someone didn't answer a question, the kind of line a teacher might use in class...and this had been extended with the following line ' as she waved aloft her wooden leg',I think, saying this was a line used in Music Hall.

I came across your thread while searching for it's origins :)

Richard


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Snuffy
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 09:32 AM

A little bit of info here back in July 2005

Google gives a tantalising snippet And finally, our Wellerism probably shows contamination with another and quite unrelated Wellerism, "'Aha,' she cried and waved her wooden leg. ... at
JSTOR, but the site tells me I am not authorised to enter. Perhaps you can find someone who is.

More frustratingly Google lists this site which will not open at all for me. It appears you've been looking longer than you thought, Marg: Bak in 1994 Marg Meikle asked about a bit of doggerel/nonsense recitation beginning "Aha, she cried, and waved her wooden leg," and in March of 1996 ...

The various quotes you give seem to have inserted the phrase into a variety of sources:

  • "but the villian he still pursued her" sounds like a typical Victorian melodramatic monologue with Sir Jasper or Ruthless Roderick or their ilk
  • "and the price of timber went up" feels more like one of Billy Bennett's comic monologues of the inter-war years.
  • "at last I have been satisfied." brings to mind the bawdy student/rugby Engineers Song (a version in DT as THE GREAT WHEEL)
  • "It was on the bridge at midnight" is a fusion of the well-known parody of Casabianca "The boy stood on the burning deck, his heart was all a-quiver. He gave a cough, his leg dropped off, and floated down the river"
  • "Aha she cried in accents wild and waved her wooden leg aloft Tis false tis false and with her evil eye she swept the garden path" is in the style of Thomas Hood's Faithless Nelly Gray - "Ben Battle was a soldier bold, And used to war's alarms: But a cannon-ball took off his legs, So he laid down his arms!" Or possibly "Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg".
  • And Charles Dickens seemed to be obsessed with wooden legs. Perhaps it's from one of his works
Best of luck with your search


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 09:36 AM

This was a catchphrase in our family, but it was "Goot heffinks, she cried, as she waved her vooden leg".


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Deckman
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 09:37 AM

I heard it as: "AHA, she cried, as she lifted her wooden leg. Lumber's going up!"


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Charmion
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 09:38 AM

Indeed, "'Aha!'" she cried etc." sounds like a music hall comedian's catch-phrase -- "If my aunt had wheels she'd be a bicycle" -- or a line from a popular recitation -- "per tuppence per person per trip!" My Dad used to drive small kids nuts with the rhetorical question, "Why is an orange?" to which the correct response was, "Because a duck has no armpits."

It's a British thing, and part of the culture that gave rise to the Goons and Monty Python.


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Snuffy
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 09:43 AM

Charmion, when I were a lad it was always:
Q. "What is the difference between a duck?"
A. "One of its legs are both the same"


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: EBarnacle
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 10:04 AM

Viaduck? See the MArx Brothers.


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Anne Lister
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 12:17 PM

My husband uses the "Aha," she/he cried and waved his/her wooden leg aloft" and says his mum used to use it. No clues as to where it came from, though, and I'd never come across it before meeting his family.

Anne


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 12:21 PM

And for my next trick, I will now put the bed back in the cupboard!
G.


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Skelf
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 12:42 PM

Is this another, "get Heather (Mills) McCartney ", thread ?


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 12:56 PM

Google on this and you don'tbet an answer, but get to see a good few interesting quirky conversations.

Seems to date back to the earlier part of last century. I'd guess it probably comes from a music hall comic - possibly via early radio. I'd say not a song as such, but from the introductory patter.


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Snuffy
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 01:04 PM

Heather Mills McCartney? Judge for yourself.

Early in the era. in 1840, Thomas Hood described a more decadent family in a trenchant spoof called "Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg: A Golden Legend." Miss Kilmansegg's name alone would give away Hood's purpose: children of a gold-happy father, her family are capable of destroying the eggs of others in pursuit of their own nest egg. In fact, the whole family are goldbugs and Miss Kilmansegg, educated to be like the rest, develops an insufferable hauteur and prizes gold above all else. One day when this haughty young woman is our riding, her "very rich bay called Banker" (Hood, 212) shies at the sight of a beggar and runs away with her. Miss Kilmansegg heads for a fall, this time only a literal one. Her leg is destroyed in the accident, yet she triumphs over adversity by acquiring her precious golden leg:

So a Leg was made in a comely mould,
Of Gold, fine virgin glittering gold,
   As solid as man could make it--
Solid in foot, and calf, and shank,
A prodigious sum of money it sank;
In fact 'twas a Branch of the family Bank,
   And no easy matter to break it. (SP 803-09)

Pride, vanity, ostentation, insensibility--these are Miss Kiimansegg's sins; but if punishment for them is due, it is slow in coming Miss Kilmansegg dreams on, especially of the god-like veneration she feels she deserves for her goldenness. And her sins compound:

Gold, still gold-and true to the mould!
In the very scheme of her dream it told;
   For, by magical transmutation,
From her Leg through her body it seem'd to go, [62/63]
Till, gold above, and gold below,
She was gold, all gold, from her little gold toe
To her organ of Veneration! (SP, 1378-84)

But Miss Kilmansegg rides for a second and fatal fall when she foolishly marries a money-seeking count who depletes her fortune and then asks to raise more money on the golden leg. Miserable in marriage, Miss Kilmansegg now spends her nights dreaming of her past with its "golden treasures and golden toys" (SP, 2319). One night as she sleeps, her leg laid to one side, the count seizes the leg, beats his wife to death, and makes off with the precious limb. The ensuing inquest over her body yields a surprising verdict:

Gold--still gold! it haunted her yet--
At the Golden Lion the Inquest met--
   Its foreman, a carver and gilder--
And the Jury debated from twelve till three
What the Verdict ought to be,
And they brought it in as Felo de Se,
   "Because her own Leg had killed her!" (SP, 2367-73)

Hood bathetically depicts Miss Kilmansegg's death as a suicide because her own vanity and tenacity are really what have dispatched her. She has chosen to become gold--in thought, in dream, and even in body, and when her gold goes, so does she.


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Subject: RE: "Aha" She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Little Robyn
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 01:38 PM

'Too late she cried, as she waved her wooden leg!'
That's the way my Mum used to say it.
And 'No answer was the stern reply!'
Poor Marg wanted the answer in June 1997!
It was probably on the radio, in a pre-goon type recording. There were others....'You can't eat onions in an office! Up the river onions!' My late uncle (born 1925) had lots of little quotes like that and he'd pop them into the conversation at any opportunity.
Robyn


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Subject: Lyr Add: BLACKE-EYED SUSAN (John Gay)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 03:31 PM

Here is one possible source for it, or rather a source from which a parody might have sprung - see the last line in the last verse of Black-Eyed Susan, by John Gay (1685-1732), who wrote the Beggars' Opera:

ALL in the Downs the fleet was moor'd,
  The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came aboard;
  'O! where shall I my true-love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true
If my sweet William sails among the crew.'

William, who high upon the yard
  Rock'd with the billow to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard
  He sigh'd, and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,
And quick as lightning on the deck he stands.

So the sweet lark, high poised in air,
  Shuts close his pinions to his breast
If chance his mate's shrill call he hear,
  And drops at once into her nest:—
The noblest captain in the British fleet
Might envy William's lip those kisses sweet.

'O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
  My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
  We only part to meet again.
Change as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.

'Believe not what the landmen say
  Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:
They'll tell thee, sailors, when away,
  In every port a mistress find:
Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
For Thou art present wheresoe'er I go.

'If to fair India's coast we sail,
  Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright,
Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
  Thy skin is ivory so white.
Thus every beauteous object that I view
Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.

'Though battle call me from thy arms
  Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms
  William shall to his Dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye:

The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
  The sails their swelling bosom spread,
No longer must she stay aboard;
  They kiss'd, she sigh'd, he hung his head.
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land;
  'Adieu!' she cries; and waved her lily hand.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Rowan
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 04:39 PM

I'm with Little Robyn, in general terms although I've always known it as

"'Too late!' she cried, as she waved her wooden leg over the Town Hall clock!"

I probably first heard it, from "Source Unknown" in the late 50s or early 60s.

And "No answer was the stern reply!" is another I knew even earlier from the same place.

"Poor Marg wanted the answer in June 1997!" Here's hoping she still visits.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Q
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 09:29 PM

I was wondering if it started with "Too late, she cries,... but the earliest I found on Google was from Wonderwoman, 1983. Should be much earlier ones out there.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE VILLAIN STILL PURSUED HER
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:36 AM

The "villain still pursued her", (ref Marg's original post and Snuffy's of 21/11/06) comes from (or at least is referenced by) a song performed by Arthur Askey:

THE VILLAIN STILL PURSUED HER
performed by
Arthur Askey

The theatre was crowded from the ceiling to the floor
The orchestra had played the overture
At last the curtain rises on the scene - a lonely moor
The heroine so innocent and pure
She thinks that she's alone but soon amid a storm of boos
There emerges from behind a blasted tree
The form of Filthy Ferdinand who tells her she must choose
Between his foul caress and povertee.

The villain still pursued her - yes with ruin she was faced
Through twenty scenes he followed her, but still the maid was chaste
In Scene the First he lured her to a lonely house he knew
He muttered "None can save you now" as the candle out he blew
But the hero struck a match and shouted, "What's the matter wid chew?"
And Filthy Ferdinand was foiled again!

And the villain still pursued her, yes, he chased her high and low
I don't know what he asked her, but she always answered , "No."
In the Second Scene he caught her and prepared for the attack
He got her on the table - things were looking very black
But the furniture men turned up just then and took the table backl
And Filthy Ferdinand was foiled again!

And the villain still pursued her, up and down the stage he glared
And half-way through the show he sent his boots to be repaired
In Scene the Third he caught her all alone in her boudoir
He said, "I've chased you long enough, now you'll be chaste no more."
But she concealed a mousetrap in her flannelette pegnoir
And Filthy Ferdinand was foiled again!

And the villain still pursued her - to hope she faintly clings
When she hears a bottle of Guinness being opened in the wings
Scene Four's inside the Barracks and the girl is blue with fright
A great big Sergeant major with a fist the size of two
He turns upon the villain and he says, "Get in the queue."
And Filthy Ferdinand is foiled again!.

And the villain still pursued her, but her virtue could not shake
Till the gallery got impatient - shouted "Give the lad a break."
Scene Five - he wooed her in a wood, the maiden gave a scream
The hero on his bicycle appeared upon the scene
He tore the villain's trousers off and exposed his wicked scheme
And Filthy Ferdinand was foiled again!

And the villain still pursued her, and there's one more scene to go
And virtue is triumphant - she's as pure as trodden snow
For in the end he chased her to a sugar factoree
And she pushed him in a big machine to end his villain-ee
So any of you people might have had him in your tea
And Filthy Ferdinand was foiled again!.
Then they play 'The Queen' and shout, "Pass along there - this way out"
And Filthy Ferdinand is foiled again!

And the villain still pursued her - the maiden's in despair
She cried "I am undone" and some rude person shouted, "Where?"
He chased her to a cemetry - the place was dark and drear
"At larst I've got you in my power," he said with fiendish leer
But a voice behind a tombstone yelled, "You can't do that there 'ere."
And Filthy Ferdinand was foiled again!

And the villain still pursued her - there was no one to console her
His eyes were flashing fire and he was breathing gorgonzola
He tied her to the railway track and gave a cruel shout
"The ten-fifteen express is due, there's nobody about."
But the station-master came and cried - "That ruddy train's scrubbed out."
And Filthy Ferdinand was foiled again!

And this song references another, performed by Jack Payne and his Orchestra, "You can't do that there 'ere". And that song is referenced in a George Formby song, A Lad from Lancashire:

"I went with Jane down Lover's Lane, and whispered in her ear,
"Now do your best for a Lad from Lancashire."
She said to me when on my knee, "You can't do that there 'ere."
I said, "Hey Hey! I can, I'm the Lad from Lancashire."

All good fun, but not much nearer answering Marg's original question, I fear.

LFF


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Charmion's brother Andrew
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:25 AM

Charmion, as I remember it, it was "Why is an orange?" "Because a snake has no armpits."

Then there was his interminable, "It was a dark and stormy night in the wilds of Patagonia, and we were all sat about the camp fire. One of us who was braver than the rest turned to Antonio and said, "Antonio, tell us a story."

So Antonio began: 'It was a dark and stormy night in the wilds of Patagonia....'"

Andrew


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Naemanson
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 03:28 PM

Thread drift:

I remember things like "Why is an orange?" "Because a snake has no armpits." But I was in college and we were experimenting with certain illegal substances.... In that state the questions and answers seemed to make sense.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Bernard
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 07:53 PM

She stood on the bridge at midnight
Her lips were all a-quiver.
She gave a cough, her leg fell off
And floated down the river...


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Fidjit
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 12:14 PM

Further useless information.

Sarah Bernheart had a wooden leg.

Chas


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Q
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 12:50 PM

Sarah Bernhardt also had a wooden leg.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Anne Lister
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 05:24 PM

My husband insists his mum only ever referred to a male protagonist with a wooden prosthetic ....probably not Sarah Bernhardt, in that instance ...

Anne


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Sheridan
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 02:18 AM

I heard it as "'Thank you, Kind Sir,' she cried as she waved her wooden leg aloft." Around 20 years ago I was working in the geriatric ward of a state mental hospital in New England and one of the patients there was a very polite elderly lady who thanked us for everything imaginable. Only she never said a simple "thank you"; it was always "'Thank you, Kind Sir etc.'" I must have heard it twenty times a day for years. But I never heard it anywhere else until now.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 03:07 PM

This reminds me of a nonsense verse on one of the New Christy Minstrel Albums (part of a medley with a high-falutin name):

"While looking through the knothole in grandma's wooden leg...
Why do they build the shore so near the ocean?
Oh, a snake's belt slips because he has no hips,
And a boy's best friend is his mother."


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Guest in Wyoming
Date: 09 Mar 07 - 08:23 PM

My dad, born 1901, always said, "Aha, she cried as she waved her wooden leg at me!" I heard it from the time I was young. He was famous for having a quote for any occasion. I have no idea where he got it, and that is why I am looking at this forum now.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Declan
Date: 09 Mar 07 - 08:41 PM

I learned a song many years ago from, among others, a man named Jem Kelly from Dún Laoghaire. The song was called "High upon the Mountiain" and it featured the verse -

"My Aunt Ellen got as drunk as an egg,
She fell down in the corner and she broke her wooden leg,
She called for a physician, "hold your whisht" said Charlie Grant,
Don't be calling for a doctor, Its a carpenter you want"


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Mar 07 - 08:52 PM

I fear that Marg Meikle was pulling our leg when she started such a thread ten years ago. What could she have been thinking of? And she never checked back to acknowledge the harvest. Rude!

Now Dr. Dogbody might have something to say about this, although he was never involved to my knowledge with any female who had a wooden leg.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 09 Mar 07 - 09:28 PM

G'day Charles,

Well, she might have checked back for the next 8 years and 4 months ... and foolishly despaired before GUEST Richard's (fruitless) reply. (I can't imagine why - even if she did need the answer by next Friday!)

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Dave Hunt
Date: 09 Mar 07 - 10:06 PM

Guest above quotes;

"While looking through the knothole in grandma's wooden leg...
Why do they build the shore so near the ocean?
Oh, a snake's belt slips because he has no hips,
And a boy's best friend is his mother."

I got my version from Steve Benbow a VERY long time ago
Tune a bit like the second half of the chorus to Tavern in the Town -ish!

' Boys' Best Friend is His Mother'

Peepingthrough the knothole of grandpa's wooden leg
Who'll wind the cat up when I'm gone
Who cut the sleeves out of grandpa's woollen pants
And a boys best friend is his mother

Peeping through the knothole of grandpa's wooden leg
Who'll put the clock out when I'm gone
who cut the legs out of gran'ma's leather hat
And a boys best friend is his mother


A horse stood around with his feet all on the ground
Why'd they build the shore so near the ocean
Go'n fetch the axe there's flea on Lizzies' ear
And a boys best friend is his mother

I fell from a window just forty storey's high
Caught my eybrows on the windowsill
The cellar's behind the door, Mary's room's behind the axe
And a boys best friend is his mother

Dave


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Virginia Hiett
Date: 10 Mar 07 - 09:00 PM

My Grandmother used to quote 'Aha, she cried in fiendish glee and shook her wooden leg at me. And stuck her head in the gravy.' I have never been able to find where she learned that. She was born before the turn of the 20th century. I thought it might be a vaudeville act.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 10 Mar 07 - 09:26 PM

Another board references a poem called "the Wayward Boy:
Full discussion here

Here is the excerpt that refers to it:

.........."Aha!" she cried and waved her wooden leg,
And jumped in bed,
And covered up her head,
And swore that I could not find her.
But I knew damn well
That she lied like hell,
So I jumped in right behind her.

This is a fragment of a widely known folk song called "The Wayward Boy" and sung to the familiar tune of "The Girl I Left Behind Me." It can be found in my book *The
Erotic Muse* (2nd ed. 1991) pp. 86-87.................


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Mar 07 - 11:13 AM

no its not the wayward boy - at least no in the version I know.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Anne
Date: 12 Mar 07 - 03:50 AM

Wll that was interesting. Funny thing is my Dad used to say it and he was raised here in New Zealand so it must have been in early 1920's.... interesting. His Mother was German/Swiss and Dad Scottish/English. He also used to add when we chatted alot as chidlins "... oh yes. My Granny had one of those but it had a wooden leg!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 06:49 PM

weelittledrummer, my guess is that the lyric I quoted from that other forum was ADDED to Wayward Boy much later after the phrase became so common. I don't think it's the original source. i was just quoting another discussion


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Dr. Bob
Date: 01 May 07 - 06:16 PM

Found this thread looking for something my mom used to say:

"Aha!, she cried, throwing her wooden leg into the air. Fourteen years I have pursued you! Three times you changed your socks and I lost the trail! But now I have found you! Give me back my sister's chewing gum!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 01 May 07 - 06:18 PM

well now, that's horse of a different color. usually she waves the wooden leg!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Celtaddict
Date: 01 May 07 - 11:48 PM

My Dad grew up in Kansas City in the 20s, and for many decades said, "'What ho,' she cried, and waved aloft her wooden leg in fiendish glee."
Doesn't mean much more but I like the sound of it. It has style.
His favorite riddle, also, was "What's the different between a duck?"
("One of its feet is alike.") I had never run across it elsewhere before Snuffy, above.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Dick The Box
Date: 02 May 07 - 05:46 AM

My grandfather used to come out with all that kind of nonsense...

"Aha he cried laughingly waving his wooden leg over the dustbin"

"Up again, off again, off like a deer. He fell down a coalmine and trod on his ear"

"Iv'e never seen anything like it since the monkey fought the cat in the dustbin and came out without a scratch"

I can't get access to any appropriate websites because I am at work but Billy Bennett seems to ring a bell as a source of this kind of stuff......


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,BobL
Date: 02 May 07 - 07:58 AM

My dad's variant, FWIW:

'"Triumph!" she cried, "The babe's boss-eyed",
She waved her wooden leg and died.'


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Bob 5000
Date: 08 May 07 - 10:25 AM

Can anyone help me find a book. About 20 years ago I read a book, set in south USA. It was about a boy who was about 15, if memory serves me correct his name is Cussy Mock?? I think a phrase he used to say was 'aha, she cried as she cracked her wooden leg' but my memory could be slightly hazy. It was trying to find out about this book that I happened across this forum.
Thanks All


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Greg
Date: 25 May 07 - 11:50 PM

From other sources

http://www.poetrylibrary.org.uk/queries/lostquotes/?id=56#comments

Nigel Rees - A Word in your Shell-like - traces it back to the final couplet of a hymn by Miss Etta Campbell and TE Perkins;
"Too late! Too late!" will be the cry -
Jesus of Nazareth has passed by.
It has passed through a number of parodies such as;
"Too late! Too late!" the maiden cried,
Lifted her wooden leg and died.

http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/txt/s1627980.htm

Jack emails to say: My mother, born around 1900, often used the phrase "Too late she cried and waved her wooden leg." Do you have any idea where this came from? Its significance defies my imagination.

It's a guess – but it's the best we have.
The world's leading expert on obscure quotations, Nigel Rees, has two columns on this expression (and its variations) in his book A Word in Your Shell Like. At end of those two columns he reaches no conclusion. However, there is a little more to be said. "Too late she cried and waved her wooden leg" seems to have been used as a comic exclamation – a humorous cry of despair when things go wrong. It quite possibly comes from a (now long forgotten) comic verse from the late 19th or early 20th century; which in turn may have (originally) been a parody of a 19th century Moody and Sankey hymn.

we were just having lunch and i used the quote and wondered its source. Had great fun reading everyones thoughts.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Alexandra
Date: 08 Jun 07 - 02:17 AM

Whenever asked a question she did not want to answer - or had no answer to, my good friend used to say as a bit of nonsense:
"Not I" said the mouse, waving his wooden leg.
I thought it was some mixed allusion to a nursery rhyme like 'Who Killed Cock Robin?" plus Moby Dick. I found the discusion when I went to use it in an email - wondering if it was anymore widespread in usage.
We both went to a girls boarding school in Brisbane in the 1980s and used to get attention from others in the dorm by saying "Friends, Romans Countrymen - lend me your ears. What's in the bag? Ears!" (from the play "Wipe the Blood Off my Toga"). It was similarly said in jest and has resonance with the patter in vaudeville acts.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Jun 07 - 03:33 AM

"Wipe the Blood Off my Toga").

Actually "Rinse the Blood Off my Toga" - from a famous 1960s LP of 4 comic sequences from a Canadian TV Show by Johnny Wayne and Frank Schuster.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 07 - 10:14 AM

I also have read the book to which Guest Bob 5000 refers. I borrowed the book from a library in about 1974. I recall the boy's name as Ussie Mock, that his annoying little brother often burst out with "aha she said as she cracked her wooden leg." Ussie referred to seemingly characterless tiresome people as "deadlies." That's all I recall. I too would love to find the book.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Rex
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 01:41 PM

I was not aware of the "'Aha' she cried" beginning until reading
this discussion page ... for me it was always : Too late she cried
as she waved her wooden leg". This saying seems to have been here
in NZ since the 1920s I would think. I had a chat about it with
the late Harry Orsman, Editor of the Oxford Dictionary Of New Zealand
English, and he proffered the view that it was some kind of satirical
'take' on men asking ladies for dances and the planned assignations
being jotted down in notebooks. But ... who knows!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Greetings from Ralph's Planet
Date: 12 Feb 08 - 10:55 PM

The book to which Guest Bob 5000 who posted on 08 May 07 refers is "The Mock Revolt" by Vera Cleaver. Published very late 1960s probably. I read in in a library near Tokyo in the early 1970s.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,HB in the UK
Date: 24 Mar 08 - 09:45 AM

I found this thread when looking for what could be another variation of this expression which my Mum (in her 70s and from the UK) uses when she has finished a task - "that's that she said as she waved her wooden leg".

She doesn't remember where she first heard it though, but thinks it must have been from an older relative when she was a child.

Has anyone else heard of this variation?


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,just wondering too
Date: 13 Apr 08 - 11:42 PM

My Dad used this expression (among others) many times. For him it was always "Oh-ho, she cried, and waved her wooden leg aloft." I would always ask him what that was supposed to mean, but he would just smile like everyone should know. It never changed over the years. He has Alzheimers now (born in 1930, Alberta, Canada), and as I probe what is left of his memory on this and other subjects, he seems to think it comes from the era of privateers in the Caribbean. In other words, who knows where it came from .... Fascinating thread, so glad others have wondered on the origins of this expression. Keep it going, I'd like to find out too.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Poconell
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 01:16 AM

My mother (age 76) and all of her siblings used to use this expression ( most often when they slammed the breaks, to avoid a collition).

"Oh!" she cried, with accents wild as she waved her wooden leg high in the air, in ever diminishing circles.

Does this sound familiar with anyone? They grew up on the prairie, in an Irish family. I have no idea where the expression came from.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 26 Apr 08 - 10:07 AM

After all this time in this thread, my guess is that it is somehow a lift from a vaudville routine or... from a play we've yet to track down.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,einarskid
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 02:55 PM

I have just spent a rainy afternoon looking for parody words to songs, came across this thread, and cannot believe how long it has gone on! My family is English and Irish decent and I never heard, "aha she cried... " but you can bet I am going to start using it on my 14 grandchildren! It will give them something to ponder (or search the web) after I'm gone. Oh, and for anyone who has gotten this far in the thread, I remember another verse for
"A Boy's Best Friend is his mother"
    Horses run around, their feet are on the ground
    Why did they build the shore so near the ocean.
    Go get the Listerine, Sister's got a beau
    Oh, I hope that Grandma's teeth will soon fit Jenny.
Bethlehem, GA


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 08:20 PM

The phrase Dennis brought to our marriage is
"Aha! She cried, as she threw her wooden leg high into the air"

Can't remember where it came from, though.

--Judy


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,jacinta
Date: 16 Jul 08 - 09:19 PM

My primary school teacher in Melbourne used to say when we came in late "Too late she cried", as she waved her wooden leg nostalgically in the breeze...


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,John
Date: 17 Jul 08 - 02:45 AM

My father, turned 79 two days ago, used the version "Too late, she cried, waving her wooden leg". He was born and brought up in South Africa, so it seems the expression was widespread in the British Empire...

I usually add "And his horse in the darkness champed the grasses of the forest's ferny floor" (from "The Listeners" or some such)


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Gemma with a G
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 11:31 PM

GUESTRex, that makes sense! I like it.

I have been wondering what this phrase means since I was a little girl, as my Grandmother always says it. Our version is:

"Too late!" she cried, as she waved her wooden leg!

Usually it's said in a farcical situation, like if we were to forget to mix in sugar before cooking a cake or something.

We're from Australia, and my grandmother turns 80 next month, but she has no idea where it came from either! Seeing as most of the "too late"s have been NZ I think it might be a hemisphere thing!
But the asking to dance thing is a good one, it makes sense and next time I visit Granny I will see what she thinks!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: bubblyrat
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 02:52 AM

Used on almost a daily basis by all and sundry in the British Navy :

          " Aha !" he cried , waving his wooden leg in the air;"Only one more sock to darn !"

Nelson almost certainly said it on his deathbed (forget all that "Kiss me!" rubbish).


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 09:42 AM

This hunt goes on and on - I always open it, hoping someone may have found a clue to it, and then maybe have another look around for a lead.

This could possibly be one, though I suspect it's a dead end. In a discussion on The Poetry Library about this quote I found this suggestion:

Father's family remembers it as probably from "Melluish Bros. A Fruity Melodrama" (Only a Mill Girl or The Doings at the Hall) - Bobby Comber, Robert Treddinick, Fabia Drake, Fred Douglas and Alex McGill, Recorded in 1936
Rilke M


And when I googled that title up came this playlist of an Australian radio station for a day back on September when they included that recording, giving details as

Melluish Bros. A Fruity Melodrama (Only a Mill Girl or The Doings at the Hall) - Bobby Comber, Robert Treddinick, Fabia Drake, Fred Douglas and Alex McGill, a (Recorded in 1936)
"Those Wonderful Thirties and into the Forties Vol.2" Warner 8573-85029-2 9'


Maybe someone can follow up that lead. It might turn up something of interest in any case.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 09:57 AM

Followed it up myself, and as I thought, it doesn't solve the mystery.

Still here is the sketch on YouTube, and it's quite fun.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Barnacle (AT WORK)
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 10:41 AM

My grandmother used to say "Aha she said as she waved her wooden leg". She was born in 1915ish, grandfather was in the medical corps and they lived in UK, India and Hong Kong, so heaven knows where she picked it up from

She had lots of phrases like this, if you asked her she'd just tell you that she had always known them - so it can be anyone's guess. She did however, have a great singing voice right up to the time she died aged 90 and knew songs from everywhere, folk, music hall, parlour music, religious stuff, sho songs - she was ace!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Shanning of Dedham
Date: 05 Sep 08 - 04:33 PM

My Mom always said"Dammit she cried and shook her wooden leg" She was born in Maine in 1910 and her family had come from England in 1636. She said she had no idea, it was always something said (quietly) in her family.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Oct 08 - 08:57 PM

Near the start of this thread Snuffy mentioned a snippet from a book:

"And finally, our Wellerism probably shows contamination with another and quite unrelated Wellerism, "'Aha,' she cried and waved her wooden leg. ... "

The rest of the book doesn't further discuss this line, but it is quoted in discussion of the line:

"I see, said the blind man with a shake of his wooden leg, that the price of lumber has gone up."

Suggesting that this is an earlier version, and that the "Aha" is a derivative.

There is also some mention that the blind man referred to comes from a line of italian origin, but there are multiple references to blind men apart from this one.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Parthian
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 07:48 PM

Having read this thread,I cannot help but wonder what the "Aha!" version may mean.I have always known of the "Too late" version which arises whenever anything is,well,too late.I have always used and heard it used for trivial things or to trivialize big things missed.My parents-now in their 80's use it,but I and they have no memory of their parents' generation using it.The dance theory seems good:"what a shame,you are too late for a dance as I now have a wooden leg...see!".I am from Melbourne,Aus.and the "Too late" version may be Hemispheric,as others have said.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 Oct 08 - 08:00 PM

I see from a google search that the saying crops up in this blog - with an evident assumption that it comes from "an old English Drinking song". (I wonder if this blogger knows something we don't...)


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 08 - 01:49 PM

My Dad had a version of this -
    'Aha said she,
    You dont know me,
    and she waved her wooden leg'
- and for some strange reason it has come back into my head 40 - 50 years later!!!!
I googled it out of curiosity but unfortunately can add nothing to the explanation of where it came from save to say that it's origins for him would most likely have been North/Inner City Dublin.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,marilyn
Date: 30 Oct 08 - 10:32 AM

my father born in 1919 used to quote some rhyme which went along these lines.
    Fire, fire said Mrs Dwyer,
    Where where said Mrs Trehere,
    Over there, over there,
    ....................
    Too late, she cried, as she waved her wooden leg.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Russell Corbyn
Date: 21 Nov 08 - 04:39 AM

Well just about everybody in our family says....

"A-ha", she cried as she waved her wooden leg to the postman.My Nan and her generation used to say it so it followed to my mum and me and so on.

Just one of those phrases that makes you chuckle along with...

'daft as a bucket full of a**eholes.','fetch a copper','you must think I came up the Thames on a bike' etc.

he he

great thread of answers and interesting to see all of the potential sources. I guess from this that the phrase has been around for a while.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Nov 08 - 06:13 PM

Peg, Peg, with a wooden leg,
Her father was a miller:
He tossed the dumpling at her head,
And said he could not kill her.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Feb 09 - 01:36 PM

Wow, I have used 'too late she cried..' a lot and always wondered where it came from. That is how I found this blog. I am also from South Africa so I guess it did spread through out the British empire.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Jim Wilson (UK)
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:09 AM

My father (1894-1957) often said "Aha, she cried as her wooden leg she shook". It sounds like a Billy Bennett sort of thing but I haven't come across it in any of his oeuvre. I was interested to read of a possible Canadian link. Although born in England, my father emigrated briefly to Canada and could well have heard it there. The search continues!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Jeannie Sim
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:03 PM

My mother (born 1920 died 2001) said a different version:
"Right she said, and waved her wooden leg!"
usually stated before pushing up sleeves and getting on with some job or other. She was from English stock but Australian since the late 1800s.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Guest/Bob
Date: 11 Apr 09 - 09:14 PM

I came across this thread while googling a phrase my grandfather used to use often:

"I see!", said the blind man, "as he shook his wooden leg."

I don't know if it is related. My grandfather was born in Wales, in 1906, I believe, but moved at an early age to a Welsh enclave in Minnesota.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Snuffy
Date: 12 Apr 09 - 05:45 AM

The version of the blind man I recall was:

"I see!", said the blind man, "as he walked into a lamp-post."


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 07:26 AM

My father (b. 1927 in Australia) still uses this saying "too late she cried as she waved her wooden leg". He used to remember more of it and could quote quite a lot of it. It was something to do with a deceitful marriage, because part of it was taking out her glass eye and putting it by the bed. I'll ask him next chance I can about what more he can remember of it. His father was English, his mother Irish. There was certainly nothing about religion in it - rather a parody and Mum thought it was an old music hall thing.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Bainbo
Date: 19 Apr 09 - 09:19 AM

Guest, 07:26am -

It wasn't the parody of Side By Side, was it?

We got maried last Friday
The vicar said it was my day
The guests all went home
And left us alone,
Side by side.

We got ready for bed, then
But I nearly dropped dead when
Her teeth and her hair
She laid on the chair
Side by side

One glass eye so small
She put on a chair by the wall
An arm .. a leg
She put on the chair by the bed

I was really downhearted
Most of the wife had departed
So I slept on the chair
There was more of her there
Side by side


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Jim Charlton
Date: 27 Jun 09 - 10:23 PM

My grandfather, born in Elgin County, Ontario, Canada in 1892 would say "Aha, she cried and shook her wooden leg". I too have often wondered about the origin of the expression. My family immigrated to Ontario as farmers when the land was cleared in the mid 1800s. The postings on this site are quite informative and immensely entertaining. Thanks to all.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,MARG MEIKLEobth
Date: 30 Jul 09 - 02:26 PM

I'M STUNNED!   look WHAT I started. An btw i have come up with n


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: MargMei
Date: 31 Jul 09 - 06:15 PM

OOPS ! I meant to say that in 12 years I didn't have any luck.
Thanks for the journey, makes for fascinating reading.
Keep up the good work!
Marg Meikle


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 07:16 PM

A short segue here...

In Snuffy's post of 21 Nov 2006, he "recites" parts of Miss Kilmansegg and Her Precious Leg. One line that caught my eye (as I was waving it aloft) is:

She was gold, all gold, from her little gold toe
To her organ of Veneration! (SP, 1383-84)


...and now I'm wondering, quite seriously, if that's the origin of Gold Toe socks.

As for that "Organ of Veneration", those who venerate certain female sexual organs may be surprised to find that this phrase refers to an area of the brain, and has its basis in phrenology (the belief that character traits manifest themselves in the shape and protuberances of the skull). The Organ of Veneration was supposed to govern one's propensity toward (or against) devotion, worship, deference to superiors and reverence of authority.

Hope this link works -- it's page 150 of "The Principles of Phrenology" by Sidney Smith (published in 1838) which gives a detailed description of the Organ of Veneration according to that era's beliefs.

Back to our regularly scheduled discussion...


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Taconicus
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 08:04 PM

"Aha!" she cried, as she shook her wooden leg,
and her glass eye rolled clear out of her head.
"You won't more gain entry to this brothel, my lad
till at last you pay up, or I'm dead!"

"I'll be back on the day I can pay you," cried he.
"Then I'll be keeping an eye out for you till you do," cried she!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Aug 09 - 08:47 PM

A writer in "Western Folklore" in 1963 reported that an unidentified somebody told him he'd heard the phrase in a vaudeville show in Des Moines, Iowa, between 1906 and '08. He remembered it as "Aha, she cried, and wagged her wooden leg." One of source's two sons recalled the same thing with "waved," the other with "waved" and the addition of "and rolled her eyeballs." The second son remebered it from a vaudeville show in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1928 or '29.

The Irish writer Sean O'Faolin has the saying in his 1934 novel, "A Nest of Simple Folk":

"Hurrah, she cried, and waved her wooden leg, and down she flopped, and the band played 'God Save Ireland, said they, proudly.'"

Elsewhere in the same book is a shorter version, "...her wooden leg, and shouted, God save Ireland.'"

My guess: it started as a vaudeville parody of the line McGrath cited here a while ago from the once well-known sea song, "Black-Eyed Susan."


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Lisa
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 10:29 AM

My grandmother (born 1902) and her younger sister used to say "Aha she cried and waved her wooden leg" and "Read 'em and weep" when they'd be playing cards and lay down the winning hand or go out first. I can understand the relationship between the latter phrase and winning at cards but the wooden leg phrase has always piqued my curiousity. I use the phrase in our family to keep it going but wish I knew the origin. Whatever it is....I love it! Takes me back to being a child and playing cards with the adults late at night!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 11:38 AM

The *meaning* of the phrase is just "Aha!"

But it's an "Aha!" embellished to help pass the time.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,MtheGM
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 01:49 PM

I was much taken with the suggestion by Mr McGrath of the connection with Gay's Black-Eyed Susan, who cries farewell and waves her lily hand. All the time I have been reading thru this thread, the line as quoted in the Subject-frame has called to mind the moment in Chaucer's Miller's Tale where Alisoun has tricked Nicholas into kissing her 'ers' by sticking it out of the window where he expects to find her mouth. He, knowing that a woman "hath no be[a]rd", exclaims, "fy! allas! what have I do?" Then comes the line I have been reminded of throughout:
       "Teehee!" quod she, and clapte the window to"
Note the identical rhythms, with all the words but two in each case having single syllables, the 'and' appearing in exactly the same place, and the two two-syllable words, the first in either case an exclamation, appearing in identical points in the line, as does the second active verb in the simple past tense, 'clapte/waved'. Could there be any echo, however conscious, involved?


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 05:02 PM

Great observation. Could there be? Obviously yes. Is there? Dunno.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 08:19 AM

The version in my mother's family is:

"Too late!" she cried,
as she waved her wooden leg
in defiance of the crowd.


Any one else heard that version?


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Donna
Date: 28 Oct 09 - 04:04 PM

' "Too late!" she cried, and shook her wooden leg' was a saying of my grandfather, who was born (in 1900) and lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. It popped into my head today and I googled it, because I've always wondered where the heck that came from and what it referred to.

I am amazed to find so many others with relatives quoting the same or similar lines. I'd always thought it was individual to him. Apparently the line took many people's fancy. How funny!

It reminds me of how so many people started using catch phrases from "Laugh-In" in the 70s, and other TV shows, but this phrase seems to have lasted longer...


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Nov 09 - 11:25 AM

My grandmother lived in Manitoba coming from Ontario in the late 1800's. They used to say "Aha she cried in accents wild and waved her wooden leg". I think it may have come from that song thatwas mentioned "Side by Side" or from one of Shakespeares plays


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 14 Dec 09 - 05:28 AM

unsweetened.ca has a blog post about experiencing a '"Too Late" She Cried, And Waved Aloft Her Wooden Leg' moment.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Marnie
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 07:44 PM

My mother-in-law, who was born in 1914 in Coventry England, would say
"Oh well, said Nell, waving her wooden leg" whenever things didn't turn out as she planned.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Dwyn
Date: 21 Jan 10 - 10:55 AM

Slight variation from my mother

Aha, she cried, waving one wooden leg and swearing in Spanish
Only one boot to polish

It was always an exclamation of triumph, and note - her version is in present tense, not past tense.

But she's still alive - I'll ask her where she got it from.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Tom Weller
Date: 14 Mar 10 - 07:59 PM

Another version: my wife always says

"Aha, he cried, waving his wooden leg aloft, forty long years have I followed thy footsteps, and at last I have found thee. Now either marry me or become my wife."

She claims she heard it from her mother.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 08:24 PM

Just asked my mother - dead end. She got it from another nurse that she knew. She was a nurse in WWII. The gal she got it from was British, but not someone she knew well.

In use in England in the 40's.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Sue
Date: 31 May 10 - 09:27 AM

My father was born in Scotland, grew up in England and later moved to South Africa.   He always used to say "too late she cried in accent wild as she waved her wooden leg aloft". He also said "no answer, was the civil reply" when someone ignored or avoided his question. Also "I see said the blind man to the deaf man who couldn't hear" when a comment was pointless, and, one that hasn't come up here so far "eee, it was agony Ivy". Wish I had asked him more about them.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 May 10 - 10:17 AM

"It was agony Ivy" - that was a catch phrase in a BBC Radio show called "Ray's a Laugh", the Ray being comedian Ted Ray.

"'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg", and its variants, always sounds like it might have been a catch phrase in a radio show, or perhaps in Music Hall. But if it had been I am sure that someone would have come up with a provenance by now.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Nicola Perrin
Date: 25 Sep 10 - 05:06 PM

My Mom's version ~

"Thank you Kindly Sir she said and waved her wooden leg aloft, meanwhile knitting her eyebrows into a handkerchief. "
I still use it frequently when thanking someone and it never fails to baffle the recipient.
Undoubtedly came from my Mom's mom who was of Irish descent.   
I do hope the tradition continues.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Sep 10 - 06:31 PM

"'No answer' came the bold reply" was one of my father's. I think a lot of these go back to a time when children were expected to recite and memorise long passages of poetry - so everyone would know chunks of "Horatius" and "Lord Ullin's Daughter" and "Casabianca" (The boy stood on the burning deck/Whence all but he had fled...), and riffing on those strange sentence structures and archaic turns of phrase would come fairly naturally.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Joel
Date: 04 Oct 10 - 06:24 PM

My Grandma (born 1920) always used the variation "'Too late!', she cried, as she gaily waved her wooden leg". As she and her family have always lived in the UK, this seems to make her a little unusual, as most of the people reporting the "too late" version seem to be from the Southern Hemisphere.

I asked her about it once, probably in the mid to late 90s, and she told me it was something she'd come up with herself. I'd always beleived her, having never heard it elsewhere until I randomly came across this discussion. Still, I'm sure it wasn't deliberate, most likely something she'd picked up in her youth and long since forgotten the origin of, as everyone else seems to.

It's odd to think how sayings and catchphrases like this could seemingly rapidly make their way round pop culture even before the advent of mass media. Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions has a whole chapter about similar phrases that enjoyed mass popularity in Victorian London, many of them having inscrutable origins.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Oct 10 - 01:33 AM

100


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Planebill
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 08:04 PM

I googled for an answer and found a mystery! My grandfather who was born in 1898 (in WVa.) and used to always say "Thank you said the kind old lady as she shook her wooden leg" when picking up passed cards during a game of hearts. When I asked him what it meant he said " I'll tell you when you get older Billy" but he passed away before I got old enough. I assumed it was the punch line to something off color. It looks it will ever remain a mystery now!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Slater family
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 10:34 PM

My Mother always said:

Aha, she cried and in the rain she warpped her wooden leg. Don't know what it means or whre it came from.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Slag
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 01:54 AM

Just vague memories but I usually heard the "Aha! she cried" in connection with "I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw."

Unrelated but in a similar vein is "'They're off!' the monkey cried as he jumped o'er the barbed wire fence."


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: CapriUni
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 03:06 PM

I was just scanning through the forum, and saw this thread had been refreshed.

And a brief thought passed through my brain: Is it time to update this -- "Aha!" she cried, and waved her titanium leg?


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Chunky off the Ramilles
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 02:21 PM

My dad was in the British Royal navy 1939-46 and often used the phrase "the man who fought the monkey in the dustbin and came out without a scratch." He also referred to a "Chunky off the Ramilles." The Ramilles was a navy ship.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Indrani Ananda
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 04:38 PM

As soon as I saw this I remembered it, but not as 'Aha' being the first word. After much memory-searching that first word eluded me. So I scrolled down all the messages and there it was: "I see," said the blind man, and waved his wooden leg! My gran was always coming out with this saying as it usually inferred that I hadn't properly understood something she'd said, ie pretending to see something you had not seen at all. "Agony Ivy " and "It's sky blue pink with a yellow border" were other little gems one heard from time to time.   

                                           Indrani.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Rox
Date: 11 Feb 11 - 04:39 PM

Did you ever get the lyrics of that song? My grandpa used to sing it to our great delight but, I was a young child and only remember bits and pieces.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Mike M
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 09:02 PM

Whenever we left on a family car trip, as we pulled out of the driveway my father would say:

"We're off!" she cried,
and waved aloft her wooden leg
and died. And the wind
whistled through the knot hole.

He was obviously quoting from something, but I have a feeling he'd composed the last sentence himself. He didn't always add it, but it was understood, and sometimes I'd say it. To this day I quote these lines myself (or sometimes just "'We're off!' she cried") when leaving on a car trip.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,GUEST, Stu H
Date: 05 May 11 - 12:38 AM

My Dad was born in Iowa in 1895. When he was working on a project and something went well he would often say, "Aha she cried and waved her wooden leg." He would also whistle 'La Paloma' as he worked. My wife, of Hungarian extraction, born in the late 1920's & from Ohio,introduced me to, "You're a liar said the Dummy as the Blind man picked up his hammer and saw."


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Guest Genghiz.Cohen
Date: 12 May 11 - 02:43 AM

The variants of these various phrases that I am familiar with are -
'... she said, gaily waving her wooden leg in the air' usually in reference to possible double meaning in something said just before - along the lines of '... as the Bishop said to the Actress.'
'I see, said the blind man' in response to some revelation.
Both phrases were picked up from my grandmother, born in the latter part of Victoria's reign.
'Ooh, it's agony, Ivy' was a radio catch phrase (often used around my Auntie Ivy.)
"Teehee!" quod she, and clapte the window to" deserves to be used more often!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Joi
Date: 18 Sep 11 - 04:06 PM

My father used to say, "'Aha!' she cried, as she shook her wooden leg." After awhile, he start the phrase and we would both say, "as she shook her wooden leg." He was born in 1919 and did not know the origin. His parents were born in Indiana and moved to Washington State. The economy was not good, so they moved to Hermiston, Oregon (Eastern Oregon) and raised their kids. Dad was in the Navy in WWII, so he could have picked it up on the ship. I always thought that Dad's family couldhave gotten it from a Radio Play or from a High School Play; but, perhaps he picked it up on the ship.

After reading all of the threads, I do remember something about an eyeball rolling off or down something, but cannot remember whether or not it came from the "wooden leg" phrase.

At least I know that I am not the only person in the world who is perplexed by this phrase! Can any new person to this thread put us out of our misery by telling us the origin?


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,SuRi
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 10:54 PM

Mom (80-something) just asked me to go online and find the poem with "Aha! she cried in fiendish glee as she woggled her wooden leg at me!" She says she learned it in one of her books when she was little, or when she read to my sister in the late '50s. Maybe from the Bumper Book? (She grew up in rural Illinois, mostly English ancestry).


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Jeri
Date: 22 Sep 11 - 10:59 PM

It's definitely not in the Bumper Book. I can't think of what children's book it might have been in.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 10:24 AM

After reviewing the entire thread, and several giant databases, I feel certain that McGrath of Harlow had the right idea back in 2006. He said that the simplest form of the saying was a parody of the final lines of "Sweet William's Farewell to Black-Eyed Susan," written by John Gay around 1715:


The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
The sails their swelling bosom spread,
No longer must she stay aboard;
They kiss'd, she sigh'd, he hung his head.
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land;
'Adieu!' she cries; and waved her lily hand.


The form, the scansion, and six of the eight words are identical. What's more, "leg" pretty much rhymes with "spread" and "head."

"Black-Eyed Susan" was a popular song for 150 years. Captain Whall even includes it in his book of sea songs and shanties as having been sung in the 1860s.

The parody words don't seem to be reported until around 1900, but the large number of variants suggest that it's rather older than that.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 11:00 AM

Actually it's five out of eight, if you don't count the shift in tense. And five out of eight is plenty, particularly since "Adieu" and "Aha" are so similar in form.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: MtheGM
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 11:09 AM

Agreed, Lighter. But I would urge my suggestion that a line from Chaucer's The Miller's Tale might have had an influence too ~

"Teehee!" quod she, and clapte the window to" 09 Aug 09 - 01:49 PM

~M~


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Sep 11 - 12:17 PM

I can't deny the similarity, M.

The parodist must have been a fairly literate person, in that case.

From Charles J. Finger's "Frontier Ballads" (1927):

"When sailors sang sea-songs, they refused to sing the song as it was written if there was the slightest chance to distort it. Take 'Nancy Lee,' which ran in part:

See how she stands upon the quay
And waves her hands to me.

"It was always rendered:

See how she stands upon her hands
And waves her legs to me."

Finger was on shipboard in the 1890s.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 11 - 01:48 PM

Our family's version via my grandmother who was from Alabama was "'Aha!' she cried as she shook her wooden leg and slowly walked away..." I'm amazed at how many variations there are here!


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,amaxx1
Date: 24 Dec 11 - 01:16 PM

As a ten year old, a close family friend, out of the clear blue would say, Aha she cried in accents wild, as the white of an egg ran down her leg and the villain still pursued her.It would perplex and then crack me up. When I asked what this meant, my question was received with a sly smile. Whenever he said it we'd both crack up. I Googled this and got to this site.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Dec 11 - 07:20 PM

The maiden stood on the firey deck,
The villian he pursured her,
The white of an egg ran down her leg,
The son of a bitch had screwed her.

This was the rhyme sung around the small town in Missouri where I was raised. If your parents heard you singing it you got a real butt whippin' with whatever they could find. Paddle, razor strop, belt, switches, etc. We only sang it when no grownups were around. I didn't know it had quite a history behind it.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Dec 11 - 03:05 PM

My mother (born 1924) used "aha she cried and waved her wooden leg" and so do I! I have no idea where it came from but her Father, my Grandpa, used to trot out plenty of London music hall catch phrases "What does Horrie say Winnie" and so forth so I would not be at all surprised if that was the origin of the wooden leg quote.

Cheers, Steve


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: Lighter
Date: 30 Dec 11 - 04:22 PM

"The maiden stood on the fiery deck...."

This stanza is part of the American bawdy song "Christopher Colombo," which goes back more than a century.

In GUEST's version, though, an element has been added from Felicia Hemans's poem "Casabianca" (1826), which famously begins, "The boy stood on the burning deck,/ Whence all but he had fled."

That too has been parodied extensively.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jan 12 - 07:01 PM

My grandfather used to say 'Aha she cried in fiendish glee and waved her wooden leg at me." Sounds like its from the same source. He was in the navy.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,GUEST
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 08:30 PM

My grandmother (born in 1869 in Wisconsin; lived in Montana in the 1910s and in California from the late 1910s until she died in 1959) used to use another variant: "Aha! she cried, And waved her wooden leg ON HIGH."
Like several of the other phrases she used, it seemed to me as a child and teenager to have no discernable meaning; but she'd cock her head, roll her eyes a bit sideways, and grin wickedly as if I were (or ought to be) in on the joke, and I'd smile obediently....
For years I've assumed it was from some widely-known music hall script; but inquiring amongst people in a retirement home where I volunteered to lead crossword puzzles in the late 90s-early 2000s produced no recognition.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Marianne
Date: 18 Feb 12 - 12:12 AM

I add another 'fiendish' variant, used many times by my mother (born in the US in 1917--both parents born in Germany). My father (also born in 1917, also born of German immigrant parents) served in the US Navy during WWII. Both my parents grew up in German-speaking communities in the Chicago area.

'"Oho!" she cried in fiendish glee and wildly waved her wooden leg.'

Could this be a naval variant, with a similar origin to that of the GUEST's 1/8/12 posting, that caught my mother's fancy? The scansion certainly supports an origin from a popular dance-hall song or poem...


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Sanders
Date: 26 Mar 12 - 04:49 PM

My mother (born in 1924) used to say it a bit differently: "Thank you kindly sir, said she, and waved her wooden leg at me". She would use it at moments when "Thank you" was appropriate, and as for others who have commented, it turned into a catch phrase in the family and the kids would chime in with the second part. I always presumed there was some source (music hall or other) that would make sense of the combination of thanks and wooden leg, but have never been able to find anything online. The fiendish glee version certainly sounds more likely in that respect.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 12 - 06:42 PM

***** Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From:GUEST,Marnie
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 07:44 PM

My mother-in-law, who was born in 1914 in Coventry England, would say
"Oh well, said Nell, waving her wooden leg" whenever things didn't turn out as she planned. *****

Hi I am from coventry too and my family have said "oh well, said nell" for years. I know this isnt what this thread is about but i really want to find out where this saying comes from and who the bloody hell was nell.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jul 12 - 07:31 PM

My family always says "Aha! She cried as she raised her wooden leg aloft". We have no idea where it came from either. The other one is "What have you got in the bag?" The answer is "Ears". Everyone in our family are readers and most do crossword puzzles too.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,ellen
Date: 03 Aug 12 - 11:51 PM

The phrase we heard all our lives from our dad when he would give us a positive remark was '"Thank you, kind sir," she said with a smile, joyfully waving her wooden leg with the arm that she lost in the war!' I have never been able to find its source, and my dad is long gone. He was born in 1915.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Bert
Date: 08 Aug 12 - 01:53 AM

I have used a variation of this since I first heard it from a friend at school when I was about fifteen (~1959). He usually offered it as a response when someone said 'Thank you' and that is how I use it now. I have no idea where he got it from. So what you would get is a person saying "Thank you" and this is responded to by "kind sir, she said, waving her wooden leg gaily in the air". It sort of suggests a parody on poor writing e.g "It was a dark and stormy night..."

Anyway, I still use it a lot.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Guest., Nancy 9/11/12
Date: 11 Sep 12 - 06:46 PM

My grandmother, born in 1902 in Wisconsin used to say 'Hooray, she cried in accents wild as she waved her wooden leg aloft' when something wonderful happened! She was of Irish heritage and I've not heard it directly as written anywhere.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Uncle Pete's nephew
Date: 17 Dec 12 - 05:35 PM

My uncle Pete returned from WWII with a German bride and a few sayings. One of them was "We're off she cried as she shook her wooden leg." Somewhere along the way we learned that during his time in London there was a play with the line "We're off she cried as she shook her wooden leg and died." Another favorite was "Killer (fill in the blank) he was known as in those days; those were the days." I suspect there was a bit of gallows humor in this since Pete was dropped by parachute into the rear of the German coastal defenses during the invasion.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Jimbo
Date: 24 Dec 12 - 04:13 PM

My Iowa-born (1912) mother always used the phrase following anytime she or anyone in her presence cried "Aha." Mom would always follow it with "she cried and waved her wooden leg aloft."

Today I was in another room and heard my wife say "Aha" as she was watching TV. So I said "...she cried and waved her wooden leg aloft."
Then I wondered what that meant, if anything, and where in the world it came from.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 05 Aug 13 - 08:48 AM

My Mother used this phrase often. ( Aha!, she cried as she threw her wooden leg aloft") Most often when she trumped someone's trick in Bridge. She was born in Canada in 1890. Her parents were of Irish origin, born I
in England and migrated to Canada, Guess that fits the profile.


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Subject: RE: 'Aha' She Cried and Waved Her Wooden Leg...
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Aug 13 - 12:44 PM

Interesting that pythonesque/goon show humour has a long history into victorian music hall.


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