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Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L

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MARY MACK


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CapriUni 15 Feb 02 - 12:09 AM
Mrrzy 15 Feb 02 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,Lynn Koch 15 Feb 02 - 11:16 AM
CapriUni 15 Feb 02 - 11:51 AM
CapriUni 15 Feb 02 - 12:06 PM
Dicho 15 Feb 02 - 05:50 PM
CapriUni 15 Feb 02 - 11:05 PM
CapriUni 16 Feb 02 - 03:34 PM
CapriUni 16 Feb 02 - 07:16 PM
CapriUni 16 Mar 02 - 01:14 PM
CapriUni 16 Mar 02 - 01:21 PM
R! 16 Mar 02 - 04:34 PM
Giac 16 Mar 02 - 05:09 PM
CapriUni 16 Mar 02 - 05:24 PM
Azizi 25 Mar 05 - 08:04 AM
CapriUni 19 Oct 10 - 04:56 PM
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Subject: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss Lucy
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 12:09 AM

These songs came up in a discussion of kids' songs by kids in this thread: Buckeyed Jim: Oddest lullaby I've heard. I was surprised to discover they were not in the Kids' DT, so I'm posting them.

(I can only trace them back to the early '70's, when I was in elementary school... can anybody else trace either of them back further?)

MISS MARY MACK
(a clapping game)

Miss Mary Mack-Mack-Mack
All dressed in black-black-black
With silver buttons-buttons-buttons
All down her back-back-back.
She asked her mother-mother-mother
For fifty cents-cents-cents
To watch the elephant-phant-phant
Go jump the fence-fence-fence.
He jumped so high-high-high,
He touched the sky-sky-sky
And didn't come back-back-back
'Till the fourth of July-ly-ly!

Clapping instructions: Stand facing your partner. Clap on each word or accented syllable in this rhythm for each line:

Miss (clap your own hands) Mar-(slap thighs)-y (clap own hands) Mack-Mack-Mack (clap hands with partner 3X)

Start slow, then gradually get faster. See how long you can go without messing up

MISS LUCY HAD A TUGBOAT
(subversive language)

Miss Lucy had a tugboat
The tugboat had a bell
Miss Lucy went to heaven
And the tugboat went to --

Hello, Operator, give me number 9
And if you disconnect me,
I will kick you in your --

Behind the refigerator, there was a piece of glass
Miss Lucy sat upon it
And she broke her little --

Ask me no more questions
I'll tell you no more lies
Boys are in the locker
Zipping up their --

Flies are in the city,
Bees are in the park. Boys and girls are kissing
In the D-A-R-K: dark, dark, dark!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: Mrrzy
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 10:08 AM

Miss Lucy had a baby, she named him Tiny Tim
She put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim
He ate up all the water, he drank up all the soap
He tried to eat the bathtub but it wouldn't go down his throat
Miss Lucy called the doctor, miss Lucy called the nurse
Miss Lucy called the lady with the alligator purse
In walked the doctor, in walked the nurse, in walked the lady with the alligator purse
Measles said the doctor, mumps said the nurse, chicken pox said the lady with the alligator purse
Out walked the doctor, out walked the nurse, out walked the lady with the alligator purse!

Instructions: stand face to face, clap your own hands together, then your right hands together (so your arms kind of cross in the middle), your own hands again, your left hands together, your own hands together, then both right and left hands together with your partner (so it goes Own, Right, Own, Left, Own, Both on each beat, thus: miss (own) Lu- (right) -cy (own) had (left) a (own) ba (both) -by (own) (right = since there is a pause there but the beat goes on). I know I've posted these lyrics somewhere, but not with the instructions. Good thread!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: GUEST,Lynn Koch
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 11:16 AM

Last four lines of Miss Mary Mack (at least as I've learned them .... from where, I haven't a clue):

July can't walk, walk, walk July can't talk, talk, talk July can't eat, eat, eat With a knife and fork, fork, fork


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 11:51 AM

Thanks, Mrrzy!

I had snippets "Miss Lucy had a Baby" in my head, but I could not remember the baby's name, or why the medical profession had to be called upon.

I learned that bit of the rhyme a little differently, though. I learned it as:

Miss Lucy called the Doctor
The doctor called the Nurse
The Nurse called the Lady with the Alligator Purse!

This rhyme in particular is one reason why I see kids as being (one of) the true sources of Folk Music in this day and age. If this isn't a satire on the Medical Establishment, I don't know what is!

(I wonder if there are modern versions with HMO references floating out there somewhere)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 12:06 PM

Lynn--

You wrote: "(at least as I've learned them .... from where, I haven't a clue)"

Heh. That's a quality of songs by kids, for kids, I suspect. Truly part of an oral tradition, they're either part of the air we breathe when we grow up, or they're not. Their origins may be as hard to trace as a ballad from the middle ages...

It was Lomax's comment that no one knew where "Buckeye Jim" came from that convinced me that the kids' version (with lines about spitting in eyes and old women dying) came before the sentimental version (with lines about paradise and how in heaven they'll be an end to suffering). My guess is now that some adult heard Buckeye Jim being sung and "prettified" it.

Luckily, Miss Mary Mack and Miss Lucy are stalwart women who are strong enough to resist such meddling. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: Dicho
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 05:50 PM

Blindfold Play Chant

Oh blin' man! Oh blin' man!
You cain't never see.
Just tu'n 'round three times
You cain't ketch me.

Oh tu'n Eas'! Oh tu'n Wes'!
Ketch us if you can.
Did you thought dat you'd cotch us,
Mistah blin' man?

Witch Play
Human call: "Molly, Molly, Molly bright!"
Witch 'sponse: "Three sco' an' ten!"
Human call: "Can we get dar 'fore candle-light?"
Witch 'sponse "Yes, if yo' legs is long an' light!"
Conscience, warning call" "You'd better watch out,
Or de witches'll git yer!"

Kneel On This Carpet

Jes choose yo' Eas', jes choose yo' wes'.
Now choose de one you loves de bes'.
If she hain't here to take 'er part,
Choose someone else with all yo' heart.

Down on dis chyarpet you mus' kneel,
Shore as de grass grows in de fiel'.
Salute yo' bride, and kiss her sweet,
An' den rise up upon yo' feet.

Bedbug

De June-bug's got de golden wing,
De lightning-bug de flame;
De bedbug's got no wing at all
But he gits dar jes' de same.

De punkin' bug's got a punkin smell,
De squash-bug smells de wust;
But de puffume of dat ole bedbug,
It's enough to make yo' bust.

W'en dat bedbug come down to my house,
I wants my walkin' cane.
Go git a pot an' scald 'im hot!
Good-by, Miss Lize Jane!

Four of the play rhymes sung by Negro children a long time ago, from: Thomas W. Talley, 1922 (1949) Negro Folk Rhymes. Talley was a black chemistry professor at Fisk University.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Feb 02 - 11:05 PM

Cool!

Thanks Dicho!

The "Witch Call" reminds me of this Mother Goose Rhyme:

How many miles to Babylon?
Three score and ten
Can I get there by candlelight?
Yes, and back again.
If your steps be nimble and light,
You can get there by candle-light.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 03:34 PM

I did a web search for more children's clapping and singing games, and found the Library of Congress site which has field recordings of folks singing the songs, here.

Their recording of "Mary Mack, Dressed in Black" was sung by an adult prisoner in 1939, so if the song goes back to his childhood, that means it goes back to at least the turn of the century, or thereabouts, I figure.... though it sounds quite different from the version I know -- not in the clapping rhythm I'm familiar with.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 07:16 PM

Here's a children's singing game that I didn't learn as a child, but as a young adult as an acting warm-up exercise at an arts and music camp, and is one that I consider to be a cousin to the clapping games, since keeping up the rhythm (or bluffing in rhythm if you mess up) is crucial:

ROCK, ROCK (A singing circle game for as many people as you can round up)

Rock, rock, how you wander
From one hand into the other
From one hand into the other
Is it fair? Is it fair
To leave poor ("It's" name) standing there?

Instructions:
Everyone not chosen to be "it" stands (or sits cross-legged on the floor or ground) in a circle, as close together as possible. With "it" standing in the center of the circle. Those in the ring hold their left palm up, fingers slightly curled, so that anything in that hand is hidden from "it". Each person in the ring then mimes passing a small object from their own left hand into the left hand of the person on their right (so that your right hand is in the palm of your neighbor's left hand just as your other neighbor's right hand is in your left hand -- got it?)

The trick is that there actually is a small object being passed around, but because of the way everybody is in sync, and the way the left hand is curled slightly, it is very hard-to-impossible to see exactly where the rock (or whatever) is. And if you do catch a glimpse of it, it has moved to another hand almost as quickly. While the object is is being passed, and the chant being sung, the person in the middle must keep an eye out, and call out the name of whoever s/he thinks has the rock. If they cannot guess correctly after three tries they are out. The song stops, and whoever does have the rock is the new "it".

:::Sigh::: It's a lot more complicated to explain than to do.

As I said, I learned this game as part of an acting class, and I was so mesmerized by the rhythm we had going on that I completely forgot to keep track of where the rock was. All of a sudden, this small piece of broken asphalt "materialized" in my left hand. I was so startled that I just about dropped it, but managed to recover the fumble and pass it on before the person in the middle could see....

There is a Canadian version of this game, with slightly different rules, posted here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Mar 02 - 01:14 PM

A couple of Fridays ago, I heard a segment on the radio about just this question of where children's rhymes come from. A transcript of it can be found here. There is a link you can click to hear the segment, too... if you have MS media player.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Mar 02 - 01:21 PM

Oops!

I just checked the link. For some reason, it doesn't lead you directly to it, as I thought it did. So, from the link above, click first on "Sickness", and then on "Segment 2: Origins of Ring Around the Rosie".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: R!
Date: 16 Mar 02 - 04:34 PM

Iona and Peter Opie have been collecting playground songs and jump rope chants for years. Check out Children's Games in Street and Playground : Chasing, Catching, Seeking, Hunting, Racing, Duelling, Exerting, Daring, Guessing, Acting, Pretending.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: Giac
Date: 16 Mar 02 - 05:09 PM

Here's a past thread about such songs with mentions of Mary Mack and a bunch of others:

children's street songs


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Mar 02 - 05:24 PM

I love Peter and Iona Opies' work (though, if I recall correctly, Iona is now a widow). My first Mother Goose book was "The Mother Goose Treasury" illustrated by Raymond Briggs. On the copyright page Iona and Peter Opie are the only sources cited for the rhymes within.

Unfortunately, that version (originally published in 1966) is no longer in print, but it will always be my favorite. The illustrations range from brightly colored water colors and guache to black and white ink sketches, and often reveal a satirical and or subversive side to the rhymes. For example, the fine lady on a white horse at Bambury Cross is riding Lady Godiva style -- the only things she is wearing are the rings on her fingers and bells on her toes! *G* (of course, that could be one reason the book is no longer in print ;-)).

That book (which I still own) was a present for my second Christmas, and it spoiled me ever after for all the other cute, pastel-colored Mother Goose nursary books.

One of my favorite rhymes, that I have not come across in other collections, is:

A man in the wilderness, he asked me
How many strawberries grow in the sea.
I answered him (as I thought good):
"As many red herrings as swim in the wood."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Mar 05 - 08:04 AM

I am STILL trying to track down the meaning of reference to "alligator' in the "Miss Lucy Had A Baby" children's rhymes:

Miss Lucy called the Doctor
The doctor called the Nurse
The Nurse called the Lady with the Alligator Purse!

By happen chance I was reading a paperback historical romantic novel-yes I do read these sometimes :O)

And there was mention of a woman who was a herbalist who put her things in an alligator purse when she went to visit someone who was sick..I assumed that "alligator purse" meant a purse made out of alligator skin.

Could it be that an alligator purse was the 'signature' of an herbalist way back when? This would fit well with the central theme of Miss Lucy calling people associated with health care to help her with her baby who almost drowned.

BTW, Iona & Peter Opie mention what they call the strange reference in the USA to "the lady with the alligator purse' in this "Miss Lucy had a baby" rhyme but give no explanation of its origin or meaning.

I remember saying the alligator purse line during my childhood in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the 1950s. I also remember this verse that goes with another rhyme, though which one escapes me now:

Out goes the rat
Out goes the cat
Out goes the lady
with the see-saw hat

-snip-

I assume that a "see-saw" mentioned here is a long horizontal hat,maybe like a toggle board [is that the right word?} that that you don't see too much of anymore at playgrounds I guess because they proved to be dangerous..

Any information about these rhymes or my theory about the meaning of the alligator purse would be greatly appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Kids' songs: Miss Mary Mack & Miss L
From: CapriUni
Date: 19 Oct 10 - 04:56 PM

Oh, dear... Five years late. I'm sorry I missed this question.

If you're still around, Azizi, and can read this:

As I understand it, shoes (for men) and purses (for women) made from alligator leather were such a status symbol of wealth that it actually contributed to alligators being endangered -- much like ostrich plumes in ladies' hats.

I don't know if there were any magic or symbolic connection between alligators and herbalism, but it might be a clue that the herbalist in question was making a lot of money off her business, and that she wasn't just doing it out of the charity of her heart...


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