childhood rhymes

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Sat Jul 31 15:32:55 UTC 2004

I only know the 4-and-20 rhyme as the ending of "One, two, buckle my shoe,"
which we chanted while trying to bounce a ball non-stop without grasping it
or losing it (I can still do it!).  Let's see if I can remember it:

One, two, buckle my shoe
Three, four, shut the door
Five, six, pick up sticks
Seven, eight, lay them straight
Nine, ten, a big fat hen
Eleven, twelve, dig and delve [incomprehensible to us kids, of course]
Thirteen, fourteen, maids a-courting
Fifteen, sixteen, maids a-kissing
Seventeen, eighteen, maids a-waiting
Nineteen, twenty, the larder is empty
Twenty-one, twenty-two, my old shoe,
dressed in blue, died last night at half-past two
Twenty-three, twenty-four, last night at half-past four
twenty-four burglars came up to my door;
I opened the door and let them in;
I knocked them down with a rolling pin!

At 11:47 PM 7/30/2004 -0400, you wrote:

>>When the game was over did you call ally ally outs in free like we did
>>southern Illinois?
>>Page Stephens
>Strange as it may seem, this is not a part of
>hide-and-seek/hide-and-go-seek [I myself say "hide-and-seek," but I've
>heard "hide-and-go-seek" from so many different people in so many
>different places and read it in so many different kinds of publications
>that I can't consider the "go" version to be "wrong," though, of
>course, I'd like to;-)] as I know it. The game simply continued till
>the last person out was caught or got home free. Some time in the
>distant past - in the '60's, perhaps? - I read an article about the
>derivation of "olly olly ox in free" from "all the, all the outs in
>free." That was the first that I had ever heard of it.
>Now, I'm going to return your serve. Did "it" chant a sing-song rhyme
>or merely count up to a certain number? The only place that I've lived
>where the chant is used is in East Texas. However, I have irrefutable
>evidence that it is used elsewhere in the South, almost certainly in
>Memphis, TN, though I can't verify this.
>The chant is:
>Last night, night before
>Twenty-four robbers at my door
>I opened the door
>I let them in
>I hit them in the head with a rolling pin
>All hid?
>The evidence is:
>In 1961, a band calling itself The Mar-Keys, like the Bar-Kays a
>spin-off from the much-better-known band, Booker T and the M.G.'s, was
>formed in Memphis, TN. Their first and only hit was an instrumental
>entitled "Last Night." If you turned this record over, like, to the
>flip side, there you found another instrumental, entitled, "Night
>Before"! Coincidence? I think not.
>-Wilson Gray

More information about the Ads-l mailing list