Thursday, October 30, 2014

(M, N) Hand Clap & Jump Rope Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

This cocojams2 series showcases examples of English language hand clap & jump rope rhymes, with a special focus on examples from African American culture. The pages present examples whose "titles" begin with the featured two letters, with the exception of post #11 in this series which features examples whose titles begin with the letters "u" - "z".)

Unless otherwise indicated, the examples given below were (or "are") "hand clap rhymes".

This cocojams2 series on English language hand clap and jump rope rhymes isn't meant to be a comprehensive listing of those rhymes. For instance, I've chosen not to include a number of versions of rhymes that are generally found on other children's rhyme sites.

A number of these rhymes are featured in posts on my pancocojams blog. Click and either enter that rhyme's name or enter the words "children's rhymes" or "African American rhymes and cheers".

Also, a number of the examples in this collection were featured on my cultural website that was online since December 2001. That website vanished late October 2014 [!?!) and I am partially recreating its playground rhymes pages from back-up files and from recent internet "rhyme harvesting". That's the story behind this blog name cocojams2.


The content of this post is presented for folkloric and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who have contributed to this collection.

These examples are published in alphabetical order based on their titles or the first few words of their first line. Multiple versions of specific rhymes are presented in chronological order based on their publishing date online or their collection date, with the oldest dated examples presented first.

M, N
MABLE MABLE (Jump rope rhyme)
Mable Mable set the table
Don't forget the red. hot. PEPPER (the rope is turned much faster on the word "pepper")

-multiple sources including Cocojams' editor's childhood memories of Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1950s.

MAILMAN MR. MAILMAN (Version #1 of "Mailman Mailman")
Handclap Rhyme Race-All Florida/Throughout Elementary- Mailman

Mr. Mailman do you duty
Here comes a lady with a big fat booty
She can do the pom pom
She can do the twist
Most of all she can kiss kiss kiss K - I - S - S

Ok. Well ITS like any patty cake rhyme ( the way you move your hands) When you do the K I S S you move your legs and feet out to do a split. But you Dont do a total split. You keep doing this until someone reaches a split, or someone falls. Truly the object of this I think is to do a split.
-Lori; Cocojams, 4/20/2008
The first line of this example is the contributor's response to my reequest for demographical information, including the contrbutor's race and/or the race of those who perform/ed this rhymee.

. "A big fat booty" is sometimes given as "an African booty", meaning a big butt. In the context of children's playground rhymes, both descriptors are considered complimentary. The phrase "an African booty" reflects the (erroneous) belief that all African and African Diaspora women have big butts.

The words to this rhyme are the same as or very similar to "Policeman Policeman".

Note that many of these rhymes are given as "Momma Momma Can't You See)

Momma momma can't you see
What the army's done to me
Took away my MTV
Now I got to watch Barney
Tic Tac Toe
Three in a row
Barney got killed
By GI Joe.
Don't stop till your hands get hot
Don't stop till your hands get red

(After this line, partners do a series of fast handclaps; the first person who moves her or his hand away so that the hand won't be hit, loses)
-African American girls and boys; around 8-10 years old; Duquesne, Pennsylvania, collected by Azizi Powell, 7/1999
The hand clap rhyme "Mama Mama Can't You See" has its source in a military cadence of the same title. However, the only similarities between the military cadence and the handclap rhyme are their "Hambone" tune, the first two lines, and the portion of the third line that mentions "___ took away my ___".

"Barney" is the large purple dinosaur who stars in the American television series that is geared to pre-school children. A large number of usually very violent rhymes have been composed which mock this character.

"GI Joe" is a nickname for United States soldiers. "GI Joe" toys are small action figures of US soldiers.

"Tic tac toe three in a row" refer to the "rock, paper, scissors" hand motion game. However, I think that a lot of children chanting ths rhyme don't realize that connection since they may not know the rock, paper, scissors game. Click for information about that game. Also, read an example of the hand clap game "Tic Tac Toe" on the "S, T" post of this cocojams2 series.

Momma momma can't you see
What the army's done to me
Took away my MTV
Now I got to watch Barney
Tic Tac Toe
Three in a row
Your mama got killed
By GI Joe.
Don't stop till your hands get hot
Don't stop till your hands get red
-African American girls, ages 9 years old; Fort Pitt Elementary School; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, collected by Azizi Powell, 10/2006
"Momma Momma Can't You See" appears to be a rather widely known handclap rhyme in the United States. I've seen this hand clap rhyme performed in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area by girls [up to the age of about 12 years] and boys up to the age of about 8 years old].

As shown above, some examples of this rhyme the earlier line Barney got killed by GI Joe" line has been replace by the line "your mama got killed". In one example of this rhyme that that I collected gives that line as "Michael got killed by GI Joe". According to that "Michael" refers to Pop mega-star Michael Jackson.

Momma momma can't you see
What this baby has done to me
Took away my MTV
Now I'm stuck watching Barney
Barney got shot by GI Joe
Now I'm watching the Cosby show
Cosby show got fired
Now I'm getting tired.
-Guest, Mom From Bama "Folklore: Play Ground Hand Jives", 5/2/2008
"The Cosby Show" refers to a popular American television show that featured African American comedian Bill Cosby and his fictitious family.

Mom From Bama wrote that she learned this rhyme from her two small girls.

Click for a few additional examples of this widely known rhyme.

oh i know it ;)

it's a hand game

mama mama can't you see?
what the baby's done to me?
took away my MTV
now i'm watching dumb barney
Tic Tac Toe three in a row
barney got shot by GI Joe
mama called the doctor and the doctor said
oops barneys dead shot in the head
(don't stop slappin' 'till your hands get red)
-♡♡♡, 2008, "Anyone know this children song?"
Here's the rest of that question:
"I know it starts "mama cant you see what the baby done to me, took away my MTV now I'm watching dumb Barney, oops Barney's dead got shot in the head by G.I. Joe, now I'm watching HBO." anyone know the rest?"

I have a boyfriend.
He's a cutie.
I fed him.
I met him.
I never will forget him.
So let's do the cherry pie.
- 8 year old African American girl (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) collected by Azizi Powell, 2008
The word "Mamasika" is a folk processed form of the Spanish word "mamacita" which means "little mama". The lines that start with the words "I met a boy, mamasika" are a folk processed version of the lyrics of a 1990s R&B song by Troop called "Mamacita". A llne from that song's chorus is "Mamacita/so glad to meet ya".

The young girl who recited this rhyme did a little hip shaking movement when she said "let's do the cherry pie". However, I don't know if there actually was a dance called "the cherry pie".

MISS MARY MACK (Example #1)
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 see the elephant elephant elephant
Jump over the fence fence fence

He jumped so high high high
He touched the sky sky sky
And he never came back back back
Till the fourth of July ly ly
-multiple sources, including my childhood memories of Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1950s
"Miss Mary Mack" is a widely known rhyme. At one time it may have been the most widely known children's rhyme among African American children. However, I noticed that fewer Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania African American children who participated in game song and rhyme programs that I did and groups that I coordinated knew this rhyme in 2004 than in the 1990s.

*I remember saying "fifteen cents" when I was a child, but most children now say "fifty cents".

In 2008 an African American woman, Sonjala A., told me that she sung the rhyme givn above -with the 15 cents words - in the 1980s in Elkhart, Indiana. But it was sung while jumping rope.

A portion of this rhyme is found in the Georgia Sea Island rhyme "Green Sally Up" on the "G, H" post of this series.

OLD MARY MACK (Version #2)
Hi, When I was growing up, we learned Old Mary Mack a little differently. The first 4 lines were the same, the remaining lines went like this:
She cannot read read read
She cannot write write write
But she can smoke smoke smoke
Her father's pipe pipe pipe

Not very PC, (politically correct) but what do you expect from a kid from Boston! (grin) Take care.
-Judy, Cocojams, 6/2/2007
When I was growing up in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the 1950s, I learned this verse from my mother:
Can you read?
Can you write?
Can you smoke your daddy's pipe?

However, "Can You Read" wasn't recited with the "Miss Mary Mack" rhyme.

MAY-REE MACK (Version #3 of "Miss Mary Mack"
May-Ree Mack, dressed in black
Buttons all up and down her back
Hi-yo, hi-yo, hi-yo-o, hi-yo

Give me a nickel, give me a dime
See my honey baby all the time
Hi-yo, hi-yo, hi-yo-o, hi-yo

Went to the river, couldn't get across
Got in trouble with my boss
Hi-yo, hi-yo, hi-yo-o, hi-yo
Words and Music: Ella Jenkins, 1968 Ella Jenkins (ASCAP)
If I correctly recall this record, Ella Jenkins said this is how some people in Ohio sing "Mary Mack".

The "Went to the river, couldn't get across" line is found in a number of 19th century African American dance songs. In those songs the word "boss" was usually given as "gray horse".

Click for the pancocojams post " "Miss Mary Mack" - Sources, Theories, Early Versions, & Other Comments"

MISS LUCY HAD A BABY (Jump Rope Rhyme) Example #1
Miss Lucy had a baby
His name was Tiny Tim
She put him in the bathtub
To see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water
He ate 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 came the doctor
In came the nurse
In came the lady with the alligator purse

Out went the doctor
Out went the nurse
Out went the lady
with the alligator purse.
-Azizi Powell, remembrances of childhood (Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1950s)
"Miss Lucy Had A Baby" is a widely known rhyme in the United States. I remember chanting this rhyme while jumping rope. However, since around the 1960s, the movement activity for this rhyme and many other playground rhymes changed from "jump rope" to "hand clap" routines.

MS. SUZIE HAD A BABY (Version #3) ms. suzie had a baby, she named him tiny tim she put him the bathtub to see if he could swim he drank up all the water he ate up all the soap he tried to eat the bathrub but it wouldn't go down his throat ms. suzie called the doctor ms. suzie called the nurse ms. suzie called the lady-with the alligator purse crazy said the doctor stupid said the nurse hungry said the lady-with the alligator purse ms. suzie kicked the doctor ms. suzie punched the nurse ms. suzie paid the lady-with the alligator purse -butters;; 6/7/2003

"McDonalds is Your Kind of Place" was a McDonalds jingle in the 1970s that inspired countless parodies that quickly spread all over the country with minor variations. Many are known to have lasted through the 80s, but I'd be interested to see how many are still in circulation today, if any.
McDonalds is your kind of place
they serve you rattlesnakes
they throw them in your face
there is no parking space
Next time you go up there
they'll serve you underwear
Mcdonalds is your kind of place

The longer version of the underwear part went:
They took my underwear
I really didn't care
they were a dirty pair
next time you go up there
they'll serve my underwear", retrieved on October 30, 2014
Click for the pancocojams post "Two McDonald's Handclap Rhymes - Source Ads & Playground Rhyme Examples"

Examples of another McDonald rhymes are found under the title "Big Mac" in the "A, B" post of this series.

Miss Sue
Miss Sue from Alabama
Hey you,
scooby do
your Mama's got the measles
Your papa's got the flu
magic measles
magic flu
Take an a b c d e f g
Take an h i j k l.m.n.o.p.
Take a smooth shot
Take a smooth shot
and now freeze.
-Eleanor Fulton, Pat Smith: Let's Slice The Ice, (Magnamusic-Baton, 1978; St. Louis, Mo.; p. 16)

Miss Sue, Scooby Doo
Miss Sue from Alabama
Sittin at the table
peeling mashed potatoes.
Waitin for the clock to go
boom tick tock.
boom ticky wally wally.
Boom tick tock
Boom ticky wally wally.
Ah 2 more time.
Boom tick tock.
Boom ticky wally wally.
Boom tick tock.
boom ticky wally wally.
Ah 1 more time.
Boom tick tock
Boom ticky wally wally
Boom tick tock.
Boom ticky wally wally.
Ah no more times.
-Alafia Children's Ensemble, Pittsburgh, PA; 1999 & 2001; Collected by Azizi Powell, 1999 & 2001
This version of "Miss Sue From Alabama" is often called "Miss Sue Scooby Doo". "Scooby Doo" is the star of the Scooby-Doo animated television series created by the American animation company Hanna-Barbera. The name "Scooby Doo" probably came from a Jazz scatting phrase.

An example of "Miss Sue From Alabama" from Northern Mississppi (1965) was posted on the following Mudcat folk music discussion thread: " "Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?" That example includes the Jazz scatting phrase "A doobie-do-waha". That phrase sounds a lot like "scooby doo". Although peformance instructions weren't given for that rhyme, judging from its words, it was performed as a circle game. That example will be included in cocojams2' circle games and movement rhymes post.

Hi:-) I just wanted to submit a very popular version of the 'handclap rhyme' song "Miss Sue From Alabama". I lived in Indiana my whole life although I changed schools alot, and this song seemed to be known by every other African American child I met. Here's how we all sang it:

Miss Sue! *clap clap*
Miss Sue! *clap clap*
Miss Sue from Alabama
Her real names Suzyanna
Sittin in a rockin chair
Eatin Betty Crocker bread
Watchin the clock go

Tick tock tick tock Banana rock!
Tick tock tick tock Banana rock!
A-b-c-d-e-f-g Wash them spots right offa me!
Moocha Moocha Moocha Freeze!

*literally freeze on the last clap,
try to stay still longer than your friend
-darlenevil; 2/1/2005;


MISS SUE FROM ALABAMA (Version #4) one goes back and forth between the people playing the game; I'll just use my name (Monica):

(both)Miss Sue, Miss Sue
Miss Sue from Alabama
Her real name is Susannah
(Boom chicka boom chicka boomboomboom)
Mommy's got the measles, Daddy's got the flu
I ain't lyin', nor are you.
(other person) Hey Monica!
(me) Who's callin' my name?
(other person) Hey Monica!
(me) Stop playin' my game!
(other person) Someone's on the telephone!
(me) If it ain't my baby tell 'em I ain't home!
(both) Sittin' in her rocker, eatin' peanut butter
Watchin' the clock go
Boom ticky wah wah boom tick tock
Boom ticky wah wah clock says stop!
-getoffmyskittle; "Does anyone remember this?? (goofy kid-rhymes)" February 6th, 2006

Hi there. I'm from Mississippi and was in elementary school in the late 80's through early 90's. the version of "Miss Sue" I remember was not listed here. I thought I'd help you out. Last time I heard it, I think it had varied ever so slightly from when I was in school, but this is how I remember it:

Miss Sue (clap clap clap)
Miss Sue (clap clap clap)
Miss Sue from Alabama

Sittin' in a rocker
eatin' betty crocker
watchin' that clock go tick-tock,tick-tock-banana-nana
tick-tock, tick-tock banana-nana

-wash those stains right out'a my knees
(as fast as you can) 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10!

I never got the last part...sometimes the rule was you had to stay still while you counted, and sometimes it was to count the fastest. The most distinct difference I remember is that there were always three claps after "Miss Sue." I hope that was helpful.
-Allison {Mississippi; remembered from the late 1980s, early 1990s},, 2/28/2007

Mis Sue from Alabama
Let's make a movie
Sitting in a rocking chair
Eating Betty Crocker
Watching the clock say
Tick Tock Boom Boom Banana
Tick Tock Boom Boom Banana
Hey white girl whatcha going to do
Momma got the measles Daddy got the flu
Take a flue shot take a flu shot
-Guest, Mom From Bama,, "Folklore: Play Ground Hand Jives", May 2, 2008
Mom from Bama (Alabama)wrote that she learned this from her two small girls.

This is an example of what I call a "racialized rhyme", meaning a playground rhyme that mentions race when previous examples had no mention of race.

Miss Susie had a steamboat,
The steamboat had a bell,
The steamboat went to heaven,
Miss Susie went to
Hell-o operator, Give me number nine,
And if you disconnect me,
I'll chop off your,
Behind- the refrigerator,
There was a piece of glass,
Miss Suzie sat upon it,
And cut her little,
Ass-k me any question,
I tell no lies,
The boys are in the girl's bathroom,
Zipping down their,
Flies- are in the city,
Bees are in the park,
(Friend's name) and her(his) boy(girl)friend,
Are kissing in the, D-a-r-k,
D-a-r-k, D-a-r-k, Dark dark dark,
The dark is like the movies,
The movies like the show,
The show is like the TV set,
And that is all I know,
I know I know my ma,
I know I know my pa,
I know I know my sister,
With the forty acre bra,
My mother is Godzilla,
My father is King Kong,
My brother is the stupid one,
Who taught me this song,
My mother gave me a nickel,
My father gave me a dime,
My sister gave me her old boyfriend,
His name was Frankenstein,
He made me do the dishes,
He made me wash the floors,
He made me clean his underwear,
So I kicked him out the door,
I kicked him over London,
I kicked him over France,
I kicked him over Hawaii
where he learned the hula dance,
He swam across the ocean,
He swam across the sea,
He swam across the tub,
Just to get to me,
I flushed him down the tub,
I drained the water good,
I kicked him out
just like my mama said I should,
In Hawaii he met the good girls,
In Hawaii he met the bad,
Half way through Hawaii
he ran into my dad,
The good girls go to heaven,
So the bad girls go to,
Hell-o operator,
Give me number ten,
And if you disconnect me, I'll sing this song again!
-Elle F., Cocojams, 11/18/2006

miss susie had a tug boat the tugboat had a bell choo-choo
miss susie went to heaven the tugboat went to
hello operator please give me number nine
and if you disconnect me i will chop of your behind the 'fridgerator there was a piece of glass
miss susie sat upon it and broke her big fat
ask me no more questions tell me no more lies
the boys are in the bathroom zipping up their
flies are in the meadow bees are in the park
miss susie and her boyfriend are kissing in the
dark is at the movies
the movies are a show
a show is like a tv show and that is all i know know know
i know i know my ma
i know i know my pa
i know i know my sister with the 80 mile bra
it's not too big it's not too small it's just the size of city hall
city hall's in portland portland is in maine
maine is in the united states and this song is insane
miss susie had a tugboat the tugboat had a bell
miss susie went to heaven the tugboat went to
hello operator please give me number ten
and if you disconnect me i will sing this song again
-lissandsara;, August 30, 2008

Kids Dont jump rope to this song im in the fourth grade and we just sing it we dont do any movements to the song

Miss Suzie had a steam boat
The Steamboat had a bell
Mrs.Suzie went to heaven
The steamboat went to
Hello Operator
Give me number 9
if you disconnect me
I'll kick you from
Behind the refrigerator
there was a piece of glass
Miss Suzie sat upon it
And broke her little
Ask me no more questions
ill tell you no more lies
The boys are in the bathroom
Zipping down their
Flies are in the meadow
Bees are in the grass
The boys and girls
Are kissing in the
Darker than the ocean
Darker than the sea
Darker than the black boy
That's chasing after me
Dark is like a movie
A movie is like a show
A show is like a T.V. set
And that is all I...
Know my dad is a robber
I know my mom is a spy
I know that I'm the little brat that
Told the F.B.I.
My mom gave me a nickel
My dad gave me a dime
My sis' gave me a girlfriend
And I know she's is witch
she made me wash the dishes
she made me wash the floor
she made me wash her underwear
So I kicked her out the door
I kicked her over London
I kicked her over France
I kicked her to Hawaii
Where she did the Hoola Dance!
-Guest; "Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread", February 27, 2011
*One purpose of the "Miss Suzie had a steamboat" rhymes may be to test society's taboos with little to no consequences. For that reason, taboo words are used with "plausible deniability". It seems to me that referring to "black boy" in this particular example may not test the taboo of race in a children's rhyme. Instead, I think that racial referent alludes to the idea that a Black male is someone who acts aggressively and therefore should be feared. Presumably the chanter (who is likely not Black) is concerned that the black boy is chasing him or her.

The word "witch" in the line "And I know she's is [a?] witch" may be a way of implying the word "bitch" without actually saying it.

MY MOTHER AND YOUR MOTHER ("Live Across The Street] Editor's Note:
I added the sub-title that is in parenthesis to distinguish this rhyme family from the counting out rhymes "My Mother And Your Mother (where washing clothes), Counting out rhymes aren't included in this series on hand clap & jump rope rhymes.

MY MOTHER AND YOUR MOTHER ("Live Across The Street"; Version #1)
My mother and your mother
live across the street
eighteen nineteen Blueberry Street
Every night about half past five
they have a fight
and this is what they say
Boys are rotten
made out of cotton.
Girls are dandy
made out of candy
Boys that are beautiful
to get more stupider.
Girls that are wilder
To get more milder.
Boys drink beer
To get nowhere.
Girls drink Pepsi
To get more sexy.
-African American girls and boys (ages 6-12 years); Millview Acres; Clairton, PA, 1999, collected by Azizi Powell
The "boys are rotten" rhyme (all the lines after that one) is often chanted as an independent (stand alone) rhyme.

"XOXOX" serves as an introductory phrase for this rhyme. When "XOXOX" is found at the end of written communication it means "hugs and kisses". I believe that's what it means in this rhyme.

MY MOTHER AND YOUR MOTHER (Live Across The Street; Version #2)
my mother your mother live accorss the street
18, 19 Blueberry street
every night they had a fight and this is what they said tonight
boys are rotten made out of cotton
girls are sexy made out of pepsi
boys go to jupiter to get more stupider
girls go to mars to be movie stars
boys drink coke to be a joke
girls drink pepsi to be more sexy
rumble-tumble strawberry shortcake
rumble-tumble strawberry shortcake
rumble-tumble strawberry shortcake
-Devon Aster; , February 12, 2003

MY MOTHER AND YOUR MOTHER ("Live Aross The Street"; Version #3)
My mother your mother live across the street
18, 19 blueberry street
every time when it is night
the kids come out and start to fight:
Boys are rotten made outta cotton,
girls are sexy made out of pepsi,
boys go to jupiter to get more stupider,
girls go to college to get more knowledge.
Wrap it up in toilet paper, send it down the escalator.
1st floor stop by your mama,
2nd floor stop by your papa,
3rd floor said you better watch out for the s s the t t the o o the p p spellssss stop.

(And they pause to see who moves first)
-Guest KLC (East Harlem, New York City, New York); "Folklore: Do kids still do clapping rhymes?", July 11, 2008

NOT LAST NIGHT BUT THE NIGHT BEFORE Examples of this rhyme are given under the name "Last Night And The Nigt Before" in the "K, L" post of this series.

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Visitor comments and playground rhymes examples are welcome.

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