Acka-backa, soda cracker

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Sat Jan 29 04:29:58 UTC 2005

I was a kid during WWII, so the Eenie Meenie that we learned went:

Eenie meenie meinie moe
Catch a Jap by his toe
If he hollers "Oh-Ee-Yo"
Throw him over in To-ke-yo!

I was well into my thirties before I knew that there was any other
version. I'm familiar with the book and the movie, "If He Hollers, Let
Him Go." But, not knowing any other version of Eenie Meenie, I lived
half my life without making the connection.


On Jan 28, 2005, at 9:29 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Acka-backa, soda cracker
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> At 4:02 PM -0500 1/28/05, Wilson Gray wrote:
>> A version of this is the only instance of anti-Semitism that I recall
>> from my childhood, ca.1940-1950.
>> Acka-backa soda cracker
>> If your daddy chews tobacco
>> He's a dirty Jew
>> One two three means
>> "Out goes you"
>> The first person out was "it" in a game of hide-and-(go-)seek or
>> whatever.
> Curious the way these choosing rituals incorporated ethnic slurs.  In
> our neighborhood (Washington Heights, NYC, c. 1950) it was always
> Eenie meenie meinie moe
> Catch a tiger by the toe
> If he hollers let him go
> My mother said to pick this very one
> Y-O-U spells you
> (If you got away with it, you stretched it out with fillers until you
> picked whoever you wanted to pick in the first place, but the first
> three lines were invariant.)
> But at some point I learned, to my horror, that this was bowdlerized
> from the original, which was not based on the t-word.
> And I see the cultural memory persists--
> March 05, 2003
> Toe Jam
>  From the ArcaMax news service:
> An April 15 trial date has been set by a Kansas City, Mo., judge for
> a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines over a flight attendant who was
> heard on the plane's intercom system saying, "Eenie, meenie, minie,
> moe, pick a seat, we've got to go." Flight attendant Jennifer Cundiff
> was boarding passengers, the Kansas City Star reports, when she
> recited the ditty that has, in the past, been used as a racial slur
> against blacks. Sisters Grace Fuller and Louise Sawyer sued, claiming
> the airline was guilty of racism because the saying -- the original
> version goes: Eenie, meenie, minie, moe, catch a n----- by the tow
> (sic) -- was aimed at them.
> larry

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