Wednesday, November 5, 2014

African American Singing Games & Movement Rhymes (A-L)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part series that features selected examples of African American singing games & movement rhymes. These examples include ring (circle) games, line games, play party songs, and other movement rhymes. These examples either originated with African Americans or are African American versions of those rhymes that originated with non-African Americans.

This post showcases a sample of children's rhymes whose titles (first words) begin with the letters "A"-"L". This post also includes a quote about African American ring games and as well as my general comments about these rhymes.

Click http://cocojams2.blogspot.com/2014/11/african-american-singing-games-movement_8.html for Part II of this post. Part II features examples "M"-"Z".

DISCLAIMER: This collection isn't meant to be a comprehensive listing of examples in these category. Nor is this collection meant to imply that African Americans are the only ones to chant or sing these rings or similar rhymes. Note: In this series all of these examples are referred to as "rhymes".

This series don't mean to imply that only African American children play these games.

These examples are posted for folkloric and recreational purposes.

Thanks to all who have contributed these rhyme examples.

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COMMENT ABOUT RING GAMES
(From notes to the vinyl album Mother Hippletoe: Rural and Urban Children's Songs, written by Kate Rinzler (album published by New World Records, NW 291 MONO, 1976
..."In ring games the players may sit on the ground, stand in place, or move. They may remain in a ring or weave, add to a group in the center, or add to a line until there is no ring. Thee ring may be empty or have a leeader in the center or outside. The players may hold hands, clap hands, or not touch. They may or may not mime a text. They may skip, slide, walk, chase, fall down, or stand still. They may take turns or be eliminated one by one. In the United States the games derive from British and African traditions, the result of the interaction of children from two cultures."
-snip-
That excerpt is from the notes to Band 2, Items 1, 2, 6, and 7 Ring Games: Sally Died; Ronald McDonald; Zoodiac; Zing-Zing-Zing Washington, D.C., schoolgirls, vocals.
Recorded 1976 at Smithsonian Institution Festival of American Folklife, Washington, D.C.

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MY COMMENTS ABOUT THIS QUOTE AND THESE EXAMPLES Kate Rinzler wrote that "In the United States the [ring] games derive from British and African traditions, the result of the interacton of children from two cultures". My friendly amendment is that the interaction is between British and African traditions, and not necessarily any direct interaction between British and African traditions. (Besides, British people can be of African descent and vice versa).

Reading the notes that Kate Rinzler wrote in 1978 about the performance directions for the ring games (and the jump rope rings) that are featured in that Mother Hippletoe album points out the fact that performance directions can and often have changed over time in the same (racial & national) population, and can also be different within that same or multiple populations in the same time. For example, Rinzler describes "Mary Mack" as a ring game. My direct experience of "Miss Mary Mack" (in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the 1950s) was that it was a partner hand clap game. My observations of "Miss Mary Mack" in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area (late 1970s to 2005) was that it was also perfformed as a partner hand game. However, I've read elsewhere that some children performed "Mary Mack" as a jump rope rhyme.

The term "ring games" usually is defined as "circle games". However, Kate Rinzler wrote that "ring games are not necessarily played in rings".

One overarching characteristic of most of the African American singing games and movement rhymes (those showcased in this cocojams2 series and others) is that they provide opportunities for their performers to move, with "dancing" being the preeminent movements. Notice that many of the ring games direct the person in the middle to "show me your motion", followed by the rest of the group declaring "we can do your motion." Also, notice that a number of the featured movement rhymes include the verse that exhorts the chanters to move "to the front/to the back/to the side, side, side. Not just the words, but the uptempo, percussive tunes of these rhymes and singing games also encouraged their chanters and their singers to move, and to dance their worries away. It's no wonder that a number of Rhythm & Blues records and records from other genres of African American include titles and verses from these children's singing games and rhymes.

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EXAMPLES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN SINGING GAMES & MOVEMENT RHYMES (A-L)
These examples are published in alphabetical order based on their titles or on the first few words of their first line. Multiple versions of specific rhymes are presented in chronological order based on their publishing date online, their (book) publishing date, or the date that I directly collected them. The oldest dated examples are presented first. The rhyme category of the example is noted in parenthesis after the example's "title". A limited number of videos are included in this post.

A, B
AUNT JENNY DIED (movement rhyme)
Soloist: Aunt Jenny died.
Group: How did she die?
Soloist: She died like this. [The soloist makes a funny pose such as raising one of her legs and raising her arm at the same time & freezing in place.]
Group: She died like this. [The group tries to exactly imitate the soloist's pose]
Soloist: She died like that. [The soloist strikes a new pose]
Group: She died like that. [The group tries to exactly imitate the soloist's pose. The soloist and the group repeat the same sequence with the mention of other relatives until "momma" is mentioned]
Soloist: My momma livin'.
Group: Where she livin'.
Soloist & group in unison: Well she lives in a place called Tennessee.
Jump up Tenna Tennessee [The entire group performs the movements as indicated by the words]
Jump back Tena Tennessee
Jump in Tena Tennessee
Jump out Tena Tennessee
Well I've never been to college
I never been to school.
But when it comes to boogie [On the word "boogie", while still standing in place, the entire group does a hip shaking dance movement] The girls don't have to do the exact same movement]
I can boogie like a fool.
You go in, out, side to side.
You go in, out, side to side.
-Barbara Ray (African American female, memories of her childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1950s); collected by Azizi Powell, 1998 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
-snip-
Barbara described this as something that girls "said" while standing around in a (horizontal) line and doing the movements that are described above.
Read the entry for "Ladies and Gentlemen" given below and read the entry for "Sally Died" in Part II of this series. Another version of this rhyme that I've found is titled "The Postman Died".

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BOB A NEEDLE (ring game)
(Parenthesis the words that are lines sung by group)

Bob-a-needle
{Bob-a-needle is a running)

Bob-a-needle
{Bob-a-needle is a running)

Better run, bob-a-needle
{Bob-a-needle is a running)

Better hustle, bob-a-needle
{Bob-a-needle is a running

I want bob-a-needle
{Bob-a-needle is a running)

Want to find bob-a-needle
{Bob-a-needle is a running

Going to catch bob-a-needle
{Bob-a-needle is a running)

Turn around, bob-a-needle
{Bob-a-needle is a running)
- Bessie Jones & Bess Lomax Hawes, Step It Down: Games, Plays, Songs & Stories from the Afro-American Heritage (University of Georgia Press, 1972, pps. 163-164)
Here is the commentary about this game from the book "Step It Down:
"Bob-A-Needle" {bobbin needle?} is for purposes of this game, a pen, a jackknife, or a small stick of wood that can be passed rapidly from hand to hand. All the players but one stand in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder, holding their hands behind their backs. The extra player stands in the center of the ring [circle]; she closes her eyes and hold the bob-a-needle high over her head in one hand. One of the ring players silently creeps up and takes the bob-a-needle from her hand and puts it behind his own back. The center player then opens her eyes and begins to sing the lead line of the song; the players in the circle sing the refrain...

The lead singer's lines are extemporaneous and can be sung in any order...During the singing, the players in the ring [forming the circle] from hand to hand, try to move as little as possible in order not to make its location obvious. Bob-a-needle may travel clockwise or counterclockwise, and the players may reverse directions at will. The center player meanwhile reaches around the waist and feels the hands of each ring player in turn; she too may go in either direction, but she may not skip players nor run back and forth across the ring. When the center player reverses the direction of her search, she must signal this with the lead line, "Turn, bob-a-needle!"

This game does not end when someone is caught holding the elusive bob-a-needle. Like most of Mrs. Bessie Jones' games from the Georgia Sea Isle Gullah tradition that involve 'losing', the person simply pays a forfeit and/or takes over the center role so that can begin again. When the players tire, the accumulated forfeits are redeemed by the owners in a new sequence of play."

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C, D

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DRAW ME A BUCKET OF WATER [also known as "Frog In A Bucket"], (ring game)
Draw Me a Bucket of Water
Draw me a bucket of water
For my lady’s daughter
We got none [one, two, three, four] in the bunch
We’re all [three, two, one] out the bunch
You go under, sister Sally.
Frog in the bucket and I can’t get him out
Frog in the bucket and I can’t get him out
Frog in the bucket and I can’t get him out.
Frog in the bucket and I can’t get him out.
-Georgia Sea Islands singing game; lyrics from http://brooklynmusic.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/draw-me-a-bucket-of-water-frog-in-a-bucket/
-snip-
"Georgia Sea Islandeers" are African American people who are also known as "Gullah" or "Geechee."

Click http/www.newtunings.com/kidmid/DrawMeABucket.html for performance instructions for this game. Also, click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2012/03/united-states-play-party-songs-other.html "Draw Me A Bucket Of Water & Three Other African American Children's Singing Games". Here's a video of this ring game:

Bilbrey Draw Me a Bucket of Water

LincolnMusic185, Uploaded on Apr 1, 2011

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E, F

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G, H

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GOING TO KENTUCKY (singing game)
We’re going to Kentucky
We’re going to the fair
To see the sister Rita *
With the flowers in her hair **
[Oh] shake it sister Rita
Shake it all you can
Cause all the boys ***
Are watchin you
So do the best you can

Rumble to the bottom
Rumble to the top
Turn around
And touch the ground
Until you holler
S-T-O-P
Speeells
Stop.
-African American girls and boys (ages 5-12 years), Alafia Children's Ensemble (children's game song group founded and coordinated by Azizi Powell), Braddock, Pennslyvania, 1998), collected by Azizi Powell
-snip-
"Going to Kentucky" appears to be a widely known game song among diverse populations in the United States. This is just one version of this game.

-snip-
Read the comment below for information about Alafia Children's Ensemble.
-snip-
Notes for this example of "Going To Kentucky": -For a boy in the center, the group was directed to say “brother Rico”
It's significant that the children didn't know what to say for a boy as it suggests that, outside of adult directed organized play activity such as Alafia Children's Ensemble, boys don't usually play this game.
-For a boy in the center, the group was directed to say “flowers in his hand” instead of "flowers in her hair"
-For a boy in the center, the group says “cause all the girls are watching you"
-A number of African American girls in various Pittsburgh area communities who I have observed play "Going to Kentucky" (1998-2005) referred to the girl in that rhyme as "Sister Rita" or "Sister Reena". Both of those names are folk processed versions of "senorita".

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GOING TO THE ASSEMBLY (ring game)
"Going To The Assembly" is a late 19th or very early 20th century Black American children's singing game which is also known as "Fly Round". This game is included in the 1914 book Negro Folk Singing Games And Folk Games of the Habitants by Grace Cleveland Porter. These examples are from the author's childhood memories. I converted this excerpt from dialectic African American English to standard American English.

GOING 'ROUND THE ASSEMBLY [Introductory Comments]
"Where I learned all these Ring -games, Honey? The good Lord knows. I always knew them. You call them singing games, but that isn't their old timey name. Honey!

One of them was "Going Round The Assembly", and this is just how we played it.

All the children joined hands, and made a big ring (a circle), and went flying round (skipping fast) singing:

Bounce around to-di-iddy-um,
to-di-iddy-um,
to-di-iddy-um,
Bounce aroun' to-di-iddy-um.
Long summer day !

Then the children walk around singing -

Go round the assembly today,
Go round the assembly today,
Go round the assembly today,
Go round the assembly today,
Long summer day !

Then they would start flying round again and singing'-

Bounce aroun' to-di-iddy-um
to-di-iddy-um,
to-di-iddy-um,
Bounce aroun' to-di-iddy-um.
Long summer day!

In the next verse they still keep on holding hands and [they] all walk up [to] the middle [of the ring]t and stand [there] together, singing —

Close up the Assembly to-day,
Close up the Assembly to-day,
Close up the Assembly to-day,
Close up the Assembly to-day,
Long summer day !

Then they walk backwards to the place where the circle was before (where they had been standing before moving forward), and singing all the time:

Open the Assembly today,
Open the Assembly today,
Open the Assembly today,
Open the Assembly today,
Long summer day!

And they end up the game with —

Bounce aroun' to-di-iddy-um
to-di-iddy-um,
to-di-iddy-um,
Bounce aroun' to-di-iddy-um.
Long summer day!

And they go just a-flying around!

It sure did my eyes good to see them so happy. For they weren't only enjoying themselves, but they were also getting exercise, beside the fun."
-snip-
Here is the performance directions that Grace Cleveland Porter wrote for the singing game which she titled "Bounce Roun'":
"Bounce Roun' [a Southern Folk-tune]
Players form a circle (no one in the center).
During the first verse “Bounce around totiddlyum”, they hold hands and skip round as fast as they can.
During the second verse, “Go round de Sembly”, they walk demurely, then they start flying around again, repeating the first words, bounce around.
“At close the assembly, all walk towards the center, and form a compact group, hands being held up high.
During fourth verse the ring widens and once more to original size, and the first verse “bounce around” is repeated, the children flying around to the end".
-snip-
The musical score indicates that the traditional melody & text were transcribed by Grace Cleveland Porter and harmonized by Harvey Worthington Loomis. The tempo is given as "very fast".

The word "bounce" in this song probably means "to walk with a bounce to one's step".("skip'?) The words "flying around" in the sentence [given in Standard English], and they all just go flying around", means "moving very fast".

When I first read this text, I thought that "the assembly" was an actual place or gathering (probably because equated that word with the Baptist religious education sessions that were (are?) called "The Summer Assembly". My experience of the Summer Assembly in New Jersey wass that it was a residential training program for future Black Baptist church leaders. Churches throughout New Jersey selected one or more students from their church to attend that religious camp. I only attended three years, and recall that that year it was held on the campus of a state college. My mother also attended "the Summer Assembly" when she was a teenager. That said, I now think that the words "Open the Assembly" in this game just mean for all the children to assemble together (come together in a group.)

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GREEN SALLY UP
Green Sally Up
Green Sally up
Green Sally down
last one squat got to till {touch? tear?} the ground

Old Miss Lucy dead and gone.
Left me hear to weep and moan.
If you hate it fold your arms
If you love it clap your hands.

-snip-
-Sounds of the South: A Musical Journey from the Georgia Sea Islands to the Mississippi Delta (4 Disc CD, Disc 4), 1961
-snip-
Another example of "Green Sally Up" is found in cococjams2' Handclap Rhymes post "G,H" http://cocojams2.blogspot.com/2014/10/g-h-hand-clap-jump-rope-rhymes-examples.html

Here's a sound file of that song:

Mattie Garder, Mary Gardner, Jesse Lee Pratcher - Green Sally, Up

IvchoBrasil, Uploaded on Sep 13, 2009,
A black children's singing game performed by a group of women in Como, Miss. Moby sampled this song for his song Flower.

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GREEN COLOR UP (circle game)*
PERFORMANCE DIRECTIONS
1. Players form a large circle.

2. A person is designated as the "Caller" and remains the caller for the entire game.

3. The caller calls out the color "Green". (If no one in the group has on an outfit with the color "green", start with another color.

4. Everyone who has the color "green" on quickly moves to the center of the circle. (People wearing an outfit that has that color can also remain where they are if they so choose.) **

5. Everyone claps their hands and stomps their feet to the beat while singing the game's words [The words after the Caller calls out a color.]

6. The people who have on the color that is called out raise both of their hands in the air.

6. The people who don't have that color on, strike a pose while folding their arms.

7. The Caller randomly calls out another color. The people in the center of the ring (who Don't have an outfit on that has that color in it) quickly leave the center of the circle. At the same time, people who Do have that color on quickly enter the center of the circle.

8. Follow the directions that have already been given, and continue this pattern until all of the colors (for outfits in that people are wearing) are called out.

I found that people (adults, and teens, as well as children) really liked playing this game. Some children would challenge another person's going into the center (if that person only had a little bit of a color in their shirt or pants, or in a hat that the person was wearing.) I told them that they should focus on themselves and not on other people. Some children wanted to count the color of their underwear. I told them that that doesn't count.

LYRICS:"GREEN COLOR UP"
Caller - Green!
Caller & Group - Green color up.
Green color down.
Green color all around the town.
If you have on green, just raise your hands.
If you do not, just fold your arms.

Caller- Yellow!
Caller - Green!
Caller & Group - Green color up.
Green color down.
Green color all around the town.
If you have on green, just raise your hands.
If you do not, just fold your arms.
-composed by Azizi Powell, 1999 (c)Azizi Powell, 1999
-snip-
I composed this game as an adaptation of the ring game "Green Sally Up" after I unsucessfully tried to introduce the game "Green Sally Up" to participants in my after school children's game song groups Alafia (ah-LAH-fee-ah) Children's Ensemble. I found that the children didn't like that game's words or performance activities, especially the words "last one squat gotta tear the ground".

The tune is moderately fast and is similar to the tune for "Green Sally Upee".

**I made this rule because I noticed that some children were shy about moving to the center when they were there alone, or even when there were other people in the center.

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HAWK AND CHICKENS PLAY (also known as "Chickama Chickama Cranie Crow"
(Chicken's Call): Chickamee chickamee, cranie-crow
I went to de well to wash my toe.
W'en I came back, my chicken wus gone.
W'at time, ole Witch?
(Hawk Sponse):"One"
Hawk Call): "I wants a chick"
Chicken's Sponse: "Well, you cain't git mine"
(Hawk Call): "I shall have a chick!"
(Chicken's Sponse): "You shan't have a chick!"
-Thomas W. Talley, Negro Folk Rhymes, Wise And Otherwise(originally published in 1922), http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27195/27195-h/27195-h.htm Gutenberg digital edition
-snip-
Dr. Talley included this game in the "Children's Play" section of his collection. It seems to me that this rhyme is incomplete. I think that it's likely that the rhyme continued with the witch chasing the chickens. I changed this game to one that I call "What Time Is It Mr (Mrs) Wolf". Read the entry for that game in Part II of this series.

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HEAD AND SHOULDER BABY 1-2-3 [movement rhyme]
Head and Shoulders Baby
Head and shoulders baby; 1-2-3
Head and shoulders baby; 1-2-3
Head and shoulders baby
Head and shoulders baby
Head and shoulders baby.
Head and shoulders baby; 1-2-3
I ain’t been to Frisco
I ain’t been to school
I ain’t been to college
But I ain’t no fool
To the front
To the back
To the side side side
To the front
To the back
To the side side side
-snip-
These additional verses following the same pattern:
Milk the cow...
Throw the ball...
-Bessie Jones, Bess Lomax Hawes 1987 Step it Down: Games, Plays, Songs, and Stories from the Afro-American Heritage (1987), p. 31-32

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HERE COMES SALLY [ring game/movemeent rhyme]
Here comes Sally Sally, Sally
Here comes Sally all night long.

So step back Sally Sally, Sally
Step back Sally all night long

Struttin down the alley, alley, alley
Struttin down the alley all night long
-Cheryl Warren Mattox, Shake It To The Onee That You Love The Best-Play Songs And Lullabies From Black Musical Traditons (publisher -JTG of Nashvlle, 1986), p. 17
-snip-
Directions:
Form two lines with patners facng each other. Dance individualized steps and clap your hands throughout the first part of the song. Take three steps back from your partner on the line, "Step Back Sally", to make room for an aisle. Then sashay down the aisle with your partner on "Strut down the alley". Pantomime the actons indicated by the rest of the song.

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HERE STANDS A BLUE BIRD [ring game]
Here Stands A Blue Bird
Here stands a blue bird
Here's stands a blue bird
Tra la la la.
Here's stands a blue bird
Tra la la la.
Oh, she* likes sugar & tea.

Let me see your motion
Tra la la la.
Let me see your motion,
Tra la la la.
Let me see your motion,
Tra la la la.
Oh, she* likes sugar & tea.

Oh, we can do your motion,
Tra la la la.
We can do your motion
Tra la la la.
We can do your motion
Tra la la la.
Oh, she* likes sugar & tea.

Who do you choose?
Tra la la la.
Who do you choose?
Tra la la la.
Who do you choose?
Tra la la la.
Oh, she* likes sugar & tea.
-various sources, including Azizi P's memories of childhood {Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1950s}
* change gender pronoun to "he" for boys who are selected as the "blue bird"
-snip-
"Here Stands A Blue Bird" is a ring game with one person in the middle. I have clear memories of singing this song and playing this game when I was growing up in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the 1950s.

It surprised me to learn that (with the exception of my daughter who learned this song from me as a child), the staff and children associated with the Alafia Children's Ensemble game songs groups that I conducted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area didn't know "Here Stands A Blue Bird." As was customary with those groups, after I taught the group this song, both the children & the adults joined together to perform it {hence the reference to "person" instead of "child" in the performance instructions}.

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HERE WE GO ROUND THE MOUNTAIN (game song)
Sugar's on the floor!!*

Here we go round the mountain, two by two.
Here we go round the mountain, two by two.
Here we go round the mountain, two by two.

Rise up, sugar**, rise!

Give us a little motion, two by two.
Give us a little motion, two by two.
Give us a little motion, two by two.
Rise up, sugar, rise!

That's a fine motion, two by two.
That's a fine motion, two by two.
That's a fine motion, two by two.
Rise up sugar, rise!.

Circle game.
Vs 1: Partners promenade around IT couple.
Vs 2: IT couple does a motion.
Vs 3: Everyone does the motion.
Vs. 1 again: Everyone promenades, IT couple slips into the circle behind another couple, and that couple becomes IT, goes to the center and decides what the next motion will be.
-snip-
"Sugar's on the floor" isn't a standard part of this game song.

*Here's a quote that explains that saying:
"At house parties they used to shake sugar on the floor so it would crunch when stepped on, hence “to shake sugaree” meant to have a good time dancing. Even today, there’s a dance step called the “sugar step” which is an action like grinding sugar on the floor." http://rickmckeon.com/guitarlessons/shakel.pdf “Shake Sugaree”

** In this line, the word "sugar" is an affectionate term for a female or male.

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HERE WE GO ZOODIO Read the entries for "Zoodio" in Part II of this series.

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HEY BABY HOW ABOUT A DATE [movement rhyme]
Hey baby, how about a date? I'll meet you round the corner 'Bout half-past eight. Hands up! Tachie Tachie Tachie Hands down! Tachie Tachie Tachie! Sans BOOTS! Tachie Tachie Tachie Hands down! Tachie Tachie Tachie! Sans BOOTS! - Barbara Ray (African American female), memory of her childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1950s; collected in November 1996 by Azizi Powell & in August 2009 (second interview) by Azizi Powell

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I, J
JOHNNY CUCKOO [ring game]
Here comes one Johnny Cuckoo,
Cuckoo, cuckoo.
Here comes one Johnny Cuckoo,
On a cold and stormy night.

What did you come for,
Come for,come for?
What did you come for,
On a cold and stormy night?

I come for me a soldier (We come for us)
A soldier
Soldier,soldier,
I come for me a soldier (We come for us)
On a cold and stormy night.

(Slight increase in speed, begin double offbeat clapping)
You look too black and dirty,
Dirty, dirty.
You look too black and dirty
On a cold and stormy night.

I'm just as good as you are
You are, you are.
I'm just as good as you are
On a cold and stormy night.
-Bessie Jones & Bess Lomax Hawes, Step It Down: Games, Plays, Songs, and Stories from the Afro-American Heritage, (publication date: 1987), page 71
-snip-
"'Johnny Cuckoo; is a traditional game song from the Georgia Sea Isles. This song is also included in a four CD collection of Southern folk songs (Alan Lomax, Sounds of the South, Disc 4 Atlantic Recording Corp, 1993). There are slight word differences in the "Songs of the South Disc" and in the "Step It Down" book". In "Step It Down" this line is given as "You are too black and browsy" while in the "Songs of the South" CD the line is given as "You are too black and dirty".

The game song "Johnny Cuckoo" is described in "Step It Down" as a "courtship play". "Play" here is Bessie Jones' description of children's songs that involve dramatization. This song probably dates from the Civil War era. In my opinion, "Johnny Cuckoo" used dramatic play to teach & reinforce self-esteem and self-confidence. Hopefully, the children internalized the affirmation that "I'm just a good as you are" for the times when they would experience put downs as children, teens, and adults.

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K, L

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LADIES AND GENTLEMAN {Version #1] movement rhyme)
Walkin down the alley alley alley
Shakin your jelly jelly jelly
swingin your partner partner partner
Ladies and gentlemen
Children too
These brown babies gonna boogie for you
We gonna turn around
We gonna touch the ground
We gonna step back, and step back, and boogie on down.
Hands up, ah cha cha cha cha
Sam boom! Ah cha cha cha cha
To the front
To the back
To the side side side
To the front
To the back
To the side side side
I never went to college
I never went to school
But when I came back
I was an educated fool
Sams Boom!
[Continue chanting "Sams Boom!" faster and faster.]
-The Pointer Sisters, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G6a6bIrmg8 "Wang Dang Doddle" (1973 performance of that song)
-snip-
"Wang Dand Doddle" was the second hit for the Pointers Sisters. That group sang this children's rhyme as a preface to the Jump Blues song "Wang Dang Doodle"
In the context of this rhyme, "jelly" means "butt" ("booty").

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LADIES AND GENTLEMEN (Version #2) [movement rhyme]
Ladies and gentlemen
children too
us brown girls
gonna boogie for you

We’re gonna turn around
We’re gonna touch the ground
We’re gonna wear our dresses
up above our knees
We’re gonna shake our fanny
Just as much as we please.

Hands up!
Tachee Tachee Tachee
Hands down!
Tachee Tachee Tachee
Sans boost!
Tachee Tachee Tachee
Sans boost!
Tachee Tachee Tachee

I never been to college
I never been to school
But when it comes to boogie
I can boogie like a fool

You go in, out
Side to side
You go in, out
Side to side

Hey sweet baby,
How about a date?
I’ll meet you at the corner
about half past eight.

You go in, out
Side to side
You go in, out
Side to side
(return to beginning)
-Barbara Ray (African American female), memories of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the 1950s), collected by Azizi Powell, 1998.

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LITTLE JOHNNY BROWN
(ring game)
Little Johnny Brown
Lay your comfort down
Little Johnny Brown
Lay your comfort* down
Fold it in a corner,
Johnny Brown
Hoot! Hoot! Hoot!
Fold it in a corner,**
Johnny Brown
Show us your motion
Johnny Brown
We can do your motion
Johnny Brown
Now choose a friend
Johnny Brown
[game starts again with the new "Johnny Brown"]
-elementary school age children; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jfLIALSuk4
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*"Comfort" here means "blanket" ("comforter") **"Fold it in a corner" is usually given "Now fold the corner" [and then] "Fold the other corner. This refers to folding the blanket.
Here's that video:

Johnny Brown

carolannf1, Uploaded on Apr 5, 2010
Kids playing a game Called Little Johnny Brown

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LITTLE SALLY ANN
Little Sally Ann Sittin in the sand A weepin and a cryin For a nice young man. Rise, Sally rise. Wipe your weeping eyes. Turn to the east and turn to the west And turn to the very one that you lovee the best. -Azizi Powell, childhood memories (Atlantic City, New Jersey (early 1950s)

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LITTLE SALLY WALKER [ring game] (Example #1)
Little Sally Walker
Sittin in a saucer
A weepin and a cryin for a nice young man.
Rise, Sally rise.
Wipe your weepin eyes.
Turn to the east and turn to the west
[And] turn to the one that you love the best.
-Multiple sources, including my observations of this game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1969 to date.
-snip-
When I first saw this game played in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (after moving there in 1969), I was surprised that children sand "Lttle Sally Walker" (sitting in a saucer) instead of "Little Sally Ann (sitting in the sand). Then I realized that I may have learned the "Little Sally Ann" version because I grew up in Atlantic City where there is sand and the beach, while Pittsburgh has neither. The realization that rhymes might change because of where you live sparked my interest in rhyme collection, although I didn't "seriously begin collecting rhymes until the mid 1980s.

It appears that "Little Sally Ann" and "Little Sally Walker" are variant forms of "Little Sally Waters":
Here's a quote from the Traditional Ballad Index entry:
"Little Sally Walker
DESCRIPTION: "Little Sally Walker, sitting in (a saucer), Cryin' (for the old man to come for the dollar), (Ride, Sally, Ride). (Fly) to the east, (fly) to the west, (Fly) to the one that you love best."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1898 (Gomme)
KEYWORDS: playparty courting
FOUND IN: US(So) Ireland Britain(England(All),Scotland (Aber),Wales)
...Notes: In England, if the collections in Gomme are to be believed, this is about equally known as "Poor Mary Sits A-Weeping" and "Little Sally Walker/Waters." The latter name seems to dominate in the U. S., and so has been used on the basis of plurality. - RBW

Here's a quote from Alan Lomax, J.G Elder, and Bess Lomax Hawes' Brown Girl In The Ring, an Anthology of Song Games from the Eastern Caribbean [New York, Pantheon Book, 1997, p. 140-141]
"When the popular Trinidadian singer King Radio made a calypso hit of this song [Little Sally Waters] in the 1950s, he was using the most popular of all African American children's song games, playing all over the southern United States and the West Indies. The forces of variation at work in child lore have renamed her "Little Sally Walker" in the United Sttes and "Little Sandy Girl" in Trinidad. But this heroine of black girlhood in the new world has her roots in ancient British lore. Once it was the custom for British brides to step over a saucer of water on the way to their weddings; thus "Little Sally Water" may in its original form be a survival of early European beliefs about water and purification rituals"...

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LITTLE SALLY WALKER (Example #2) [Ring game]
Little Sally Walker, an African-American version of a children’s game song (as played by Anna Robinson in the mid 1950's; who is now in her 60's).

Little Sally Walker,sittin’ in a saucer,
weepin' and cryin’ cause nobody loves her.
Rise Sally rise wipe your weepin’eyes
put your hands on your hip,
and let your backbone slip.
Oh, shake it to the East;
Oh, shake it to the West.
Shake it to the very one that you love the best.

The game of Little Sally Walker is for ages 7 – 12

Here's a description of the action that accompanied this rhyme: Prior to song starting- Girls form a circle; one girl is chosen to be “Sally”

1st line- "Sally" sits down on the inside of the circle (as if sitting in a saucer) and pretends to weep and cry; the rest of the circle walks counter-clockwise holding hands and walking to the song’s beat

2nd line & line 3 -“Sally” remains inside the circle but now rises to stand in the center part of the circle and does what the rhyme is saying(wipes her eyes); the rest of the group is now standing still and claps their hands and stomps their feet to the beat.

3rd line & 4th line -Sally now stops and puts her hands on her hip and moves her hip into a dip and the girls in the circle who performed this rhyme stand still while "Sally" in the middle performs a movement.

As the rhyme progresses the children forming the ring try to exactly imitate Sally's movements (they shake their hips to movements the same time Sally does) on the words to the East the hips move to the right, and on the words to the West the hips move to the left.

Still standing in front of whoever Sally may stop in front of "Sally" continues doing the same dance or movement of her hips that she did previously.

5th- On the words you love the best Sally is standing still and facing the girl she stopped in front of, now the game is over; the former “Sally” rejoins the ring, and the new Sally immediately enters the center of the ring and the game begins again. When both boys and girls play this game together the game takes on a little more interest.
-Anna R., Cocojams.com, 5/8/2008
-snip-
This entry was reformatted for this post.

The portion of the ring game when "Little Sally Walker" dances in front of a person forming the ring and that person becomes the new "Little Sally" is the same as or very similar to what I call "switching places" ring games. A cocojams2 post on that performance activity will be published ASAP and a link to that post will be added here.

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LITTLE SALLY WALKER (WALKING DOWN THE STREET), Version #1, (circle game*)
Little Sally Walker was walkin down the street.
She didn’t know what to do so she stood in front of me.
I said ooh girl do your thing.
Do your thing, Stop!
I said ooh girl do your thing.
Do your thing, Stop!
-African American girls (about 7-9 years old), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (North View Heights Public Housing Program), 1999; collected by Azizi Powell, 1999
-snip-
All of the online examples of this rhyme that I've found are titled "Little Sally Walker". However, I refer to it as "Little Sally Walker" (Walking Down The Street)" to distinguish it from the much older ring game "Little Sally Walker". The only thing that the contemporary circle game * "Little Sally Walker" and the much older ring game have in common besides their cirle play formation, is their title.

Judging by YouTube videos, by far the most common example of "Little Sally Walker (Walking Down The Street)" appears to be Example #3 given below.

I'm referring to "Little Sally Walker" (Walking Down The Street)" as a "circle game" instead of as a "ring game" to highlight what I think is its contemporary origin. The earliest example that I've collected of this rhyme is 1999. If you are familiar with this rhyme before that date, please share that (along with demographical information, particularly date -by year) and place that you first performed this rhyme or saw it performed. Thanks!

Here's the performance directions for this version of "Little Sally Walker" (Walking Down The Street)":
Prior to song starting- Girls form a circle; one girl is chosen to be “Sally”. (Note my comments below if this game is played with boys and girls.)
1st line- "Sally" walks around the inside of the circle and doesn't sing. The rest of the group don't hold hands and don't move around the circle. The group claps their own hands while singing and may also stomp their feet to the song’s beat.

2nd line & line 3 -“Sally” remains inside the circle but either arbitrarily or purposely stands in front of a person who is forming the circle and does a dance step or a movement such as "jumping jack". The rest of the group continues to stand still and clap their hands (and stomp their feet).

3rd line-on the word “Stop!” Sally dramatically freezes (makes a dramatic pose and stands still). The girls who performed this rhyme in 1999 stood still while "Sally" in the middle performed a movement.

(When I taught this game to other children, I directed the children forming the circle to try to imitate the exact movements that "Sally" makes, and then freeze their movements the same time Sally does.)

4th line-Still standing in front of the same girl, "Sally" continues doing the same dance or movement she did previously; (Read my note about my directions for the re-creation of this rhyme)

5th- On the word "Stop!", the game is over; the former “Sally” rejoins the ring, and the new "Sally" immediately enters the center of the ring and the game begins again. The next soloist is supposed to perform a dance step or a movement that hasn't been done before."

Note: These directions are also how I saw this rhyme performed in 2005 by African American girls in the Garfield section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Garfield is quite a distance from the Northview Heights neighborhood of that city.) The words to that rhyme and the rhyme's performed were basically the same in both of those neighborhoods.

I've never seen or read that the group uses the name of the girl in the center (middle) of the circle rather than the name "Sally".

The title of this game and the "ooh girl do your thing" line indicate that it was created for girls only. However, there's no reason why boys can't play this game along with girls (or separately, though that it's probably unlikely that boys would want to play this game without girls.

If boys played this game along with girls, I think that the group should choose in advance a two syllable "boy's name" to refer to boys who are in the center. (The name should be two syllables to fit the beat.) I'm not sure which boy's name would be used. To avert teasing, the name used should probably be one that few children nowadays have-note: the nickname "Sally" is rarely used now. But, for historical and cultural reasons, I'd stay very clear of the name "Sambo". The editor of the Mama Lisa children's rhyme website wrote "If a boy plays you can sing "Willy Wally Walker"." [That link is found below.] In my opinion, using the name "Willy" presents another cultural problem (in the United States anyway) since "willy" is a slang term for the male sexual organ. Another website suggest using the name "Sammy" for boys who are the center persons. I'm not fond of that suggestion, either.

It also seems to me that if boys play this game along with girls, the group would say "ooh boy do your thing" instead of "Ooh girl, do your thing".

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LITTLE SALLY WALKER (WALKING DOWN THE STREET), Version #2, (circle game*)
I was a counselor at a camp about three years ago, and the campers (good-natured high school students) played a surprising amount of games during break time. Not surprisingly, they weren't all innocent little rhymes. For example, Little Sally Walker has been reincarnated! She's now a circle game, with the chant:

"Little Sally Walker,/walking down the street.
She didn't know what to do, so/she jumped in front of me and said:
'Hey, girl, shake that thing,/shake that thing like it ain't no thing.
Come on, girl, shake that thing,/shake that thing like it ain't no thing."

And another favorite circle game:

"Here we go, ridin' that pony, riding around on that big fat pony.
Here we go, ridin' that pony, this is how we do it:
Front to front to front, oh, baby
Back to back to back, oh, baby
Side to side to side, oh, baby
This is how we do it"

Of course, both games were stopped more than once when campers became too...involved!...
-LNL, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=4300#1126685 "Children's Street Songs:, Mar 04
-snip-
Other examples of "Ride That Pony" are found in Part II of this series.

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LITTLE SALLY WALKER (WALKING DOWN THE STREET), Version #3, (circle game)
Little Sally Walker was walkin down the street.
She didn’t know what to do so she stood in front of me.
I said ooh girl do your thing.
Do your thing, and Switch!
I said ooh girl do your thing.
Do your thing, and Switch!
-various examples including http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=2409&c=23. "Mama Lisa - "Little Sally Walker"
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On the word "switch", "Little Sally Walker" and the person she is standing in front of change places. "Switch" here means "change places with each other".
Here's a video of this singing game:

Little Sally Walker :)

AnnaGraceBananaFace, Uploaded on Feb 25, 2009
Playing little sally walker in the munchkin room at the show in Irving on the 23rd!!

**** Thanks for visiting cocojams2.

Visitor comments and playground rhymes examples are welcome.

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