How Miss Suzie and Tiny Tim got clean(er)

One of the more popular songs (among girls) were the stories of Lulu (who is also known as Miss Suzie in some versions)

Lulu had a steamboat
the steamboat had a bell
lulu went to heaven
the steamboat went to
hello operator
please give me number nine
and if you disconnect me,
I'll kick in your
behind the 'frigerator
there was a piece of glass
lulu sat upon it
and bust her silly
ask me no more questions
I'll tell you no more lies
and that is the story
oh how lulu died


The "Almost Cussing" songs are awfully widespread - South Park did a great one a while ago. No idea how far back this goes, but probably at least as far back as the day when you had to ask operators to get you #9, a practice that was totally unknown among my generation, though we sang the song anyway. Iona Opie notes that before it was a playground song, Victorians used to recite it (or verses almost exactly like it) in parlors as serious entertainment! Plenty of variations still go around. Many follow "ask me no more questions / I'll tell you more lies" with

"the boys are in the bathroom / zipping up their flies."


THis neatly connects it to another song in the genre: Up in the Mountains, but the line has probably been around as long as people have been calling zippers "flies."

The name "Lulu" is used fairly interchangably with other names, most often "Miss Suzie" and "Rosie." Folklorists notice that the song is often coupled with another popular hit:

Miss Suzie had a baby
she named it tiny Tim
she put it in the bathtub
to see if he could swim
he ate up all the water
he drank up all the soap
now he's home, sick in bed
with a frog in his throat.
She called for the doctor
she called for the nurse
she called for the lady with the alligator purse
mumps, said the doctor
mumps, said the nurse
nothing, said the lady with the alligator purse


Plenty of variations, such as "he tried to eat the bathtub, but it wouldn't fit hi throat." It's been sung in about that way since at least the 1920s in England, but it's actually a variation of a whole series of bawdy drinking songs about a prostitute name Lulu, according to Iona Opie's "The Singing Game." She sites one particular version:

Lulu had a baby, which was an awful shock
she couldn't call it Lulu cause the bastard had a____


You can guess the last word. By the 1920s, it had morphed into a rhyme set-up not unlike the "Steamboat" song:

Lulu Had a baby, she named it sunny Jim
she took it to the bathroom to see if it could swim
it swam to the bottom, it swam to the top
Lulu got excited, and grabbed it by the
cocktails, ginger ale, two and six a glass....


By the 1950s, the lady with the alligator purse was showing up in versions of the song. The "cocktails" line was still being recorded in England in 1950s, and in New York in the late 1970s, though in the states it morphed to "two bits a glass" (I'd be interested to see if it still turns up as "two and six a glass" in England now that they've been on decimal currency for a couple of generations). Sunny Jim was the name of the mascot for Force cereal, which was created in 1902, but which I'm not 100% sure you could get in England. It could be a reference to any number of people who were known as Sunny Jim.

Meanwhile, US folklorists (reporting in Sherman's book at the right) recorded one in Long Island, circa 1980, that went:

Bang Bang Rosie
Rosie's gone away
she's going to have a baby
that's why she's gone away
Rosie had two boyfriends
both of them were rich
one was the son of a lawyer
one was the son a
bang, bang Rosie
Rosie's gone away
She's going to have a baby
that's why she's gone away.
Rosie had a rooster
Rosie had a duck
she put them both together
to see if they could
bang bang rosie....
in the refrigerator
there is a piece of glass
and if you do not like
you can stick it up your
bang bang rosie.....


This is a nearly verbatim version of "Bang Bang Lulu," a bawdy tavern song that, along with other songs about Lulu, goes back to something like the 18th century (the melody is just about like "Good Night Ladies"). It appears to have been a bawdy sea shanty that, like most folk songs from the British Isles, gradually morphed into an Appallachian ballad. Then, finally, it became a pair of playground songs. The names "Rosie," "Miss Suzie" and "Lulu" have been used somewhat interchangably since the tavern song days.

There are countless variations, of course, some of which more neatly connect the new songs to the earlier sources, and some of which insert more modern, topical references (Sherman's book mentions a version that replaces "behind the refrigerator" with "behind the iron curtain" that their source learned in Germany in the 1960s) and some of which go off on tangents of their own. For a good 100 years, at least, kids thought the baby "Tiny TIm" was named after the Dickens character, but there were probably plenty of kids in the late 1960s who thought they were singing about the high-voiced guy with the ukelele of whom talk shows of the day just couldn't get enough.

Post the versions from YOUR playground in the comments!


BANNER PLAYGROUND tan2

43 comments:

  1. When I was growing up in the Detroit MI suburbs (South Redford) (1969 on->) I learned it pretty much the way you first posted but it was "Miss Lucy"

    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 nine,
    And if you disconnect me, I'll kick you right...
    behind the frigerator, there was a piece of glass,
    Miss Lucy fell upon it and broke her little ...
    Ask me no more questions, I'll tell you no more lies,
    Miss Lucy told me all of this the day before she...
    Dyed her hair of yellow, she dyed her hair of green,

    Well - I'm surprised I remembered that much of it actually - sorry that I can't remember how it ended!

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  2. I learned a longer version of the Suzie's Steamboat song that was the same as your Lulu up 'til here:

    Ask me no more questions, I'll tell you no more lies
    The boys are in the bathroom, zipping up their
    Flies are in the meadow, bees are in the park
    Miss Suzie and her boyfriend are kissing in the
    D-A-R-K
    D-A-R-K
    dark dark dark dark
    Dark like at the movies, a movie's like a show
    A show is like my TV set and that is all I know!

    That was learned in Georgia, in the mid-90s I suppose.

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    Replies
    1. That's the version I learned too. This was in Chicago probably late 80s or early 90s. We did this as a clapping rhyme.

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  3. I have been sitting here for half an hour trying to remember the version I knew of Suzie's Steamboat and all I had to do was see Testing 123's post! That is what we sang in Iowa too.

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  4. I remembered an addition suddenly today...
    Dark like at the movies..
    .... all I know...
    I know I know my Ma
    I know I know my Pa
    I know I know my sister with the 18 meter bra bra bra!
    circa Des Moines, IA 1990

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  5. Adam,
    I just found your blog and I love it - what a fantastic idea!!!

    I grew up in Wilmette in the 1960s and our version was a little different:

    Miss Suzie had a baby
    she named him 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.
    She called for the doctor
    she called for the nurse
    she called for the lady with the alligator purse
    mumps, said the doctor
    measles, said the nurse
    nothing, said the lady with the alligator purse
    out walked the doctor
    out walked the nurse
    out walked the lady with the alligator purse

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    1. This is the version I learned in the UK (West Midlands) in the 1970s!!! Only differences are minor ... Suzie CALLED THE Doctor, Suzie called the nurse etc ... and then out WENT the Doctor, out WENT the Nurse ... Etc!

      Also the Lady with the Alligator purse says its chicken pox!

      Amanda, UK

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    2. This is the version I knew.. North Florida, early 90's

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  6. Brooklyn 1950s:

    Took my gal to the baseball game
    Sat her up in front
    Along came a fly ball
    And socked her in the
    Country boy, country boy
    Sitting on a rock,
    Along came a bee
    And stung him in the
    Cocktail gingerale 5 cents a glass
    If you don't like it,
    Shove it up your
    Ask me no more questions,
    I'll tell you no more lies
    A man got hit with a bag of shit
    Right between the eyes.

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    1. Ha! This is pretty close to what I learned in NYC in the 50's-60's, it just started out a little different: LuLu had a baby, she named it Tiny Tim. She put it in the bathtub to see if it could swim. He swam to the bottom, he swam to the top, Lulu got excited and she pulled him by his cocktail gingerale 5 cents a glass...(The rest, even the ending is the same as I learned it!) LOL

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    2. I grew up in somerset nj and we sang the suzie version with the man got hit with a bag..... at the end depending the mood or if our patents were around lol

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    3. Victoria BC late 70's we sang it this way:
      Hocus Pocus had a dog
      A very fine dog was he
      He gave it to a lady
      To keep her company
      She fed it, she fed it
      She took it out to hunt
      It climbed beneath her petticoat
      And tried to lick her
      Country boy, country boy
      Sitting on a rock
      Along came a blackbird
      and bit him on the
      Cocktails, gingerales
      Ten cents a glass
      If you don't like it
      You can kiss my
      Ask me no questions
      I"ll tell you no lies
      If you get hit with a bucket of shit
      Be sure to close your eyes!

      Delete
  7. Miss Suzie and her steamboat was one of my favorite handgames. I learned it in San Antonio in 1999-2000, but when I moved to California at the end of the year, kids there were sining it too mostly the same. Very similar to Testing 123's except that we said "stinkboat" instead of steam boat and with:

    d-a-r-k
    d-a-r-k
    dark, dark, darker than the ocean
    darker than the sea
    darker than the underwear my mother puts on me!

    I also heard the last line as "darker than the naked boys chasing after me!"

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  8. well in saskatchewan canada, 90's children here would sing:

    miss mary had a steamboat, her steamboat had a bell
    miss mary went to heaven, her steamboat went to
    hello operator, please give me number 9, and if you disconnect me i'll kick you from
    behind the yellow curtain, there was a piece of glass, miss mary sat upon it and cut her big fat
    ask me no more questions, tell me no more lies
    the boys are in the bathroom, doing up their
    flies are in the cities, bees are in the park
    miss mary and her boyfriend, are kissing in the
    d-a-r-k
    d-a-r-k
    d-a-r-k, dark
    the dark is like a movie,
    a movies like a show,
    a show is like a tv screen and that is all i know
    I know you know my ma
    i know you know my pa
    but do you know my sister with the 80 metre bra.

    haha oh childhood eh..

    or there was

    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 mom mom mom
    for 50 cents cents cents
    to see the boys boys boys
    jump over the fence fence fence
    they jumped so high high high
    they reached the sky sky sky
    and never came back back back
    'til the 4th of july lie lie


    In the land of oz where the ladies smoked cigars
    every breath they take is enough to kill a snake
    when the snakes are dead they put roses in their heads
    when the roses die they put diamonds in their eyes
    when the diamonds break its 1998

    Theres a place in france where the nakid ladies dance
    and the men play drums on the nakid ladies bums
    and the kids see it all through a crack in the wall


    ms lucy had a baby, she named him tiny tim
    she put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim
    he drank up all the water
    ate up all the soap
    he tried to eat the bathtub but it wouldnt go down his throat
    miss lucy called the doctor
    miss lucy called the nurse
    miss lucy called the lady with the alligator purse
    measles said the doctor
    mumps said the nurse
    chickenpox said the lady with the alligator purse
    medicine said the doctor
    medicine said the nurse
    pizza said the lady with the alligator purse
    miss lucy hit the doctor
    miss lucy punched the nurse
    miss lucy paid the lady with the alligator purse


    Joy to the world, "enter name" is dead
    We barbecued their head.
    What happened to their body?
    We flushed it down the potty.
    And around and around it goes
    And around and around it goes.
    And around, around, around it goes.

    miss mary took an axe
    and gave her mother forty whacks
    When the job was nicely done,
    She gave her father forty-one

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  9. one bright day in the middle of the night
    two dead soldiers got up to fight
    back to back they faced eachother
    drew their swords and shot eachother
    a deaf policeman heard the noise
    pulled out his gun and stabbed the boys
    if you dont believe this lie is true
    ask the blindman he saw it too


    ol' macdonald sittin on a fence
    pickin his balls with a monkey wrench
    the wrench got hot and burnt his balls
    pissed all over his overalls
    he went to the doctor and the doctor said
    oh my god your balls are dead
    he cut them off and hung them on a tree
    if they dont taste right you cant blame me


    my momma and your momma was sitting in a ditch
    my momma called your momma a dirty son of a
    bring out the kids and let them play with sticks
    when they grow up they will learn to play with
    dickie my doggie was sitting in the grass
    along came a bumble bee and stung him in the
    ask me no questions i tell u no lies
    that was the story about dickie and i


    great green gobs of greasy grimey gopher guts
    mutilated monkey meet
    little birdy squirdy feet
    great green gobs of greasy grimey gopher guts
    and i forgot my spoon

    There once was a woman who sat on the rocks
    Teaching the young boys to play with their
    kites and their marbles in the old days of woe
    When along came a woman who looked like a
    decent young woman who walked like a duck
    Said she'd invented a new way to
    educate children to sew and to knit
    When along came the farmer who let out
    Cart from the stable to follow the hunt
    while his wife in the farmhouse was powdering her
    Nose with the contents of a vanity box
    And remembering the last time that she caught
    A cold



    Raspberry,
    strawberry,
    apple jam tart.
    Tell me the name of your sweet heart.
    -goes through alphabet until person messes up skipping-

    i had a little car B48
    took it for a drive around the corrrr~ner (during this time, you jump out of the skip rope, run around someone swing ing the rope, and jump back in then the people singing finish teh word corner)
    policeman caught me, put me in jail
    all i had was gingerale
    how many bottles did i drink (10,20,30...)

    Stella stella ola
    Clap, clap, clap
    Say yes, chica, chica, chica, chica, chat
    Say yes, chica, chica,
    allo, allo, allo, allo, allo
    Say 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!


    down down baby down by the rollercoaster, sweet sweet baby i'll never let you go. shimmy shimmy cocoa puff, give it to me now. light it up and take a puff pass it to me now. Gramma gramma sick in bed, she called the dcotor and the doctor said lets get the rhythm of the head "ding dong" lets get the rhythm of the head "ding dong" lets get the rhythm of the hands "clapclap" lets get the rhythm of the hands "Clap clap" lets get the rhythm of the feet "stomp stomp" lets get teh rhythm of the feet "stomp stomp" lets get the rhythm of the hot dog lets get the rhythm of the hotdog put it all together and what do you get? ding dong clap clap stop stomp hot dog! put it all backwards what do you get hot dog, stop stop, clap clap ding dong.

    My mother, your mother, lived across the street 1819 Blueberry Street Everytime they had a fight this is what they said: Boys are rotten, made out of cotton Girls are handy, made out of candy Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider Girls go to Mars to get more candy bars Boys drink whiskey to get more friskey Girls drink Pepsi, to get more sexy


    saskatchewan, canada 1990's

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  10. I remember a varition of that last one. down down baby down by the rollercoaster, sweet sweet baby i'll never let you go. shimmy shimmy cocoa puff, shimmy shimmy raw, shimmy shimmy cocoa puff, shimmy shimmy raw.
    Then I cant remember the in-between this part and the gramam part.
    Gramma gramma sick in bed, she called the dcotor and the doctor said lets get the rhythm of the head "ding dong" lets get the rhythm of the head "ding dong" lets get the rhythm of the hands "clapclap" lets get the rhythm of the hands "Clap clap" lets get the rhythm of the feet "stomp stomp" lets get teh rhythm of the feet "stomp stomp" lets get the rhythm of the hot dog lets get the rhythm of the hotdog put it all together and what do you get? ding dong clap clap stop stomp hot dog! put it all backwards what do you get hot dog, stop stop, clap clap ding dong.

    All the rest is the same that I remember. (circa Washington state 1990s)

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  11. Toronto, Ontario, late 90's:
    miss mary had a steamboat
    the steamboat had a bell
    ding dong!
    miss mary went to heaven
    the steamboat went to
    hello, operator?
    please give me number nine
    and if you disconnect me
    i'll kick you in
    behind the yellow curtain
    there was a piece of glass
    miss mary sat upon it
    and broke her little
    ask me no more questions
    please give me no more lies
    the boys are in the washroom
    zipping up their flies
    are in the garbage
    the bees are in the park
    miss mary and her boyfriend
    are kissing in the d,
    in the d, in the dark dark
    dark is like a movie
    a movie's like a show
    a show is like an opera
    and that is all i
    know you know my mother
    i know you know my pa
    i know you know my sister
    with the sixty meter bra
    i saw her in the ocean
    i saw her in the sea
    i saw her in the shower..
    oops! pardon me!

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  12. Miss Lucy had a steamboat
    The steamboat had a bell
    Miss Lucy went to heaven
    The steamboat went to

    Hello operator
    Please give me number 9
    If you disconnect me
    I'll kick you from

    Behind the iron curtain
    there was a piece of glass
    Miss Lucy fell upon it
    And cut her little

    Ask me no more questions
    I'll tell you no more lies
    Miss Lucy went to heaven
    The steamboat never dies

    Saskatchewan, 1980's

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  13. MIss Suzie had a steamboat
    The steamboat had a bell
    Miss Suzie went to heaven
    The steamboat went to

    Hello operator
    Give me number 9
    And if you disconnect me
    I'll kick you from

    Behind the fridgerator
    There lay a piece of glass
    Miss Suzie sat upon it
    And broke her little

    Ask me no more questions
    I'll tell you no more lies
    The boys are in the bathroom
    Zipping up their

    Flies are in the barnyard
    The bees are in the park
    Miss Suzie and her boyfriend
    Are kissing in the
    D-A-R-K D-A-R-K D-A-R-K
    DARK!

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  14. this is the one we saug in my school

    Lulu had a baby she called him tiny Tim
    she put him in the bath tub to see if he could swim
    well he swam to the bottom and then came up for air
    lulu got excited and grabbed him by the
    hair cut shampoo ring the barbers bell
    if you dont like it
    hey there say there hows about a kiss
    hey now say now what comes after this

    there's been a murder in the chip shop
    where a wee dug stole a hattie bone
    an another dog tried tae take it af him
    so i hut him wae a tattie scone

    i went see ma auntie Sarah
    but ma auntie Sarah wisna in
    so i went tae the hole in the winday
    an a shouted auntie Sarah are yae in
    well her false teethe were lying on the table
    an her curly wig was lyin on the bed
    an a nearly bust ma sides wae laughin
    when a saw her screwin aff wooden leg

    scotland 1970

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  15. Very similar to the one in Saskachewan at the same time (1990's), but in BC we had:

    Miss Molly had a steamboat,
    Her steamboat had a bell
    Miss Molly went to heaven,
    Her steamboat went to
    Hello operator,
    Give me number 9,
    And if you disconnect me I'll kick you from
    behind
    The yellow curtain, there was a piece of glass, Miss Molly sat upon it and cut her big fat
    ask me no more questions, tell me no more lies
    the boys are in the bathroom, doing up their
    flies are in the cities, bees are in the park
    Miss Molly and her boyfriend, are kissing in the
    d-a-r-k
    Darker than the ocean,
    Darker than the sea,
    Darker than the monster, that's chasing after me
    I know I know my pa,
    I know I know my ma,
    I know I know my sister with the 80 acre (or closer to the 2000's we would say hectare) bra

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  16. Miiis-suuus Landers was a health nut. She cooked food in a wok.
    Mr. Harris was her boyfriend, and he had a great big-
    Cock-a-doodle-doodle, the rooster just won't quit
    And I don't want my breakfast, because it tastes like-
    Shih tzus make good house pets. They're cuddly and sweet.
    Monkeys aren't good to have, because they like to beat their-
    Meeting in the office or meeting in the hall,
    The boss, he wants to see you so you can suck his
    Balzac was a writer, he lived with Allen Funt
    Mrs. Roberts didn't like him, but that's 'cause she's a-
    Contaminated water can really make you sick.
    Your bladder gets infected, and blood comes out your-
    Dictate what I'm saying, 'cause it will bring you luck
    And if you all don't like it, I don't give a flying f*ck!
    -South Park

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  17. ohio in the early 90s had the same as CQuinn, except it was an 'elevator bra' instead of an '18 meter' one.

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  18. I remember a clever variation on the last few lines. From Peterborough, Ontario, late 1980s (using Miss Mary):

    Flies are in the city, the bees are in the park
    The boys and girls are kissing in the D-A-R-K
    Dark is in the movies, the spotlight on the show
    When Mary went to heaven, her steamboat wouldn't go

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  19. I learned this in California in the 90s I learned it like Testing 1,2,3 wrote it above.. though the bra line was slightly different.. I think we said "48 foot bra." :P

    There was another 2 verses after that went something like..
    My ma gave me a nickel
    My pa gave me a dime
    My sister gave me a boyfriend
    His name was Frankenstein
    (that one might be slightly wrong, I had trouble remembering. But the Frankenstein part was definitely there)

    He made me wash the dishes
    He made me wash the floor
    He made me wash his underwear
    So I kicked him out the door

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  20. New Jersey, mid 90's:

    "Miss Lucy had a sailboat
    The sailboat had a bell (ding, ding!)
    Miss Lucy went to heaven, but the sailboat went to--

    Hello, operator, please give me number nine
    And if you disconnect me I will chop off your--

    Behind the refrigerator, there was a piece of glass
    Miss Lucy sat upon it and it went right up her--

    Ask us no more questions, we'll tell you no more lies,
    The boys are in the bathroom, pulling down their--

    Flies are in the meadow, bees are in the park
    The boys and girls are kissing in the D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K--

    Dark is like a movie, a movie's like a show
    A show is like a TV set and that's not all I know,
    I know my Ma, I know I know my Pa, I know I know my sister with the 18 acre, 18 acre, 18 acre bra

    My mother is Godzilla, my father is King Kong,
    My brother is the idiot who made up this whole song
    So throw me in the ocean, so throw me in the sea
    So flush me down the potty, and that's the end of me!"

    ReplyDelete
  21. Miss Suzie had a steamboat
    the steamboat had a bell (ding ding)
    Miss Suzie went to heaven
    and the steamboat went to
    Hello operator
    Please give me number 9
    and if you disconnect me
    I'll cut off your
    Behind the 'fridgerator
    there was a piece of glass
    Miss Suzie sat upon it
    and cut her little
    Ask me no more questions
    Tell me no more lies
    Miss Suzie and her boyfriend
    were kissing in the
    D-A-R-K D-A-R-K
    dark dark dark is like a movie
    the movie's like a show
    a show is like a tv set
    and that is all I know
    I know my mama
    I know I know my papa
    I know I know my sister
    with the 40 acre, 40 acre 40 acre bra bra bra
    My mama gave me a nickel
    My papa gave me a dime
    My sister gave me her boyfriend
    and his name was Frankenstein
    He made we wash the kitchen
    he made me scrub the floors
    He made me wash his underwear
    so I kicked him out the door

    Connecticut, 1990s

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  22. Our version ended like Testing 123's except ours ended with "Dark, Dark, Dark" and didn't have those additional lines. We also said "Miss Lucy had a steamboat" instead to start with. That was Long Island in the mid 1970's. While scanning though, I saw the rhyme with the dead soldiers which I had completely forgotten about, but as soon as I saw it I remembered singing that one as well!!!

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  23. The one I knew combines this with http://www.playgroundjungle.com/2010/02/my-boyfriend-gave-me-apple.html . Boston area, early 2000s.

    Miss Lucy had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell
    Miss Lucy went to heaven and the steamboat went to
    Hello operator, please give me number nine
    And if you disconnect me I will chop off your
    Behind the 'frigerator, there was a piece of glass
    Miss Lucy sat upon it and she broke her big fat
    Ask me no more questions, tell me no more lies
    The boys are in the girls' room, zipping up their
    Flies are in the meadow, bees are in their hives
    Miss Lucy and her boyfriend are kissing in the D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K
    Dark is like a movie, a movie's like a show
    A show is like a TV set and that is all I know
    I know my ma, I know I know my pa
    I know I know my sister with a 40-acre bra
    My ma gave me a nickel, my pa gave me a dime
    My sister gave me a boyfriend and his name was Frankenstein
    He made me wash the dishes, he made me wash the floor
    He made me wash 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
    (Hula! Hula!)

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  24. ( :
    Imma 90's baby,1999 to be exact(;
    Oh,I fucking love this stuff! Good thang my iPhone gets these sites,bro!

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    Replies
    1. You're around 10-12 and you're already saying "fucking" Haa,generation=fucked up,bro as I recall.

      Delete
  25. In my day, '80s we added *ding ding after the bell. There was also a hand clap game that went with it, the vesion I learned was like testing 123's
    Ga

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  26. Miss Mary had a steamboat, the Steamboat had a bell
    Miss Mary went to heaven, her steamboat went to
    Hello operator, please give me number 9,
    And if you disconnect me, I'll kick you from
    Behind the Iron Curtain, there was a piece of glass,
    Miss Mary sat upon it, and hurt her little
    Ask me no more questions, I'll tell you no more lies,
    The boys are in the bathroom, zipping up their
    Flies are in the city, the bees are in the park,
    Miss Mary and her boyfriend are kissing in the
    Dark is like a movie, a movie's like a show,
    A show is like a TV screen and that is all I know
    I know my maa, I know I know my Pa,
    I know I know my sister has an 80 dollar bra!

    I learned this around 1998 in Newfoundland Canada :) Interesting that the version I learned refers to the Iron Curtain instead of the refrigerator, as well as the name being Mary.

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  27. Miss Suzie had a steamboat
    The steamboat had a sail
    Miss suzie went to Heaven
    The steamboat went to
    HELLO operator
    Give me number 9
    If you disconnect me
    I'll kick you in the
    BEHIND the refridgerator
    there was a piece of glass
    Miss Suzie sat upon it and
    Cut her big fat
    ASK me no more questions
    Tell me no more lies
    This is what Miss Suzie said
    The day before she died.

    South Carolina 1980s

    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 elephants, elephants, elephants
    Jump over the fence, fence, fence
    They jumped so high, high, high
    They touched the sky, sky, sky
    And didn't come back, back, back
    Till the Fourth of July, ly, ly

    SC 1980s

    Oh pretty baby
    Come out and play with me
    You'll bring your dollies three
    Climb up my apple tree
    Slide down my rainbow
    Into my cellar door
    and we'll be jolly friends
    forever more, more more

    SC 1980s but my grandmother (born 1914)taught that one to me.

    I don't want to go to Mexico no more, more, more
    There's a big fat policeman at the door, door, door
    If you pull him by the collar
    Boy he's going to hollar
    I don't want to go to Mexico no more more more

    SC 1980s

    All of these were hand clap or jump rope rhymes

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  28. "but the line has probably been around as long as people have been calling zippers "flies." It's the other way around. The wording can only have been around as long as people have been zipping flies, which are way older than zippers; if fact it wasn't until the 1930's that fashion designers starting using them in place of buttons in men's trousers. The term "refrigerator" also dates the rhyme, since "refrigerator" in reference to a household appliance only became common in the 1920's with the advent of affordable electric units, although the previously common term "ice-box" remained longer; I grew up calling it the ice-box even though I'd never seen an ice-man. The name "Tiny Tim" raises a question: was it a reference to the Dickens' character, as I assumed when I first heard it, or does the rhyme pre-date the character, and the character's name then a reference to an existing prototype, like "Little Orphan Annie" being one of any number of orphaned girls in stories whose name was invariably "Annie"?

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  29. I know two versions of the "steamboat edition":

    Miss Lucy had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell (ding ding [with arm pump])
    Miss Lucy went to heaven, the steamboat went to-

    Hello operator, please give me number nine
    And if you disconnect me I will chop off your-

    Behind the refrigerator, there was a piece of glass
    Miss Lucy sat upon it and broke her big fat-

    Ask me no more questions, tell me no more lies
    The boys are in the girls' room, zipping up their-

    Flies are in the meadow, bees are in the hive
    Fish are in the deep blue sea and that is all I know

    I know my ma, I know I know my pa
    I know I know my sister with the 40-acre bra bra bra!




    and:


    Miss Lucy had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell (ding ding [with arm pump])
    Miss Lucy went to heaven, the steamboat went to-

    Hello operator, please give me number nine
    And if you disconnect me I will chop off your-

    Behind the refrigerator, there was a piece of glass
    Miss Lucy sat upon it and broke her big fat-

    Ask me no more questions, tell me no more lies
    The boys are in the girls' room, kissing in the
    D-A-R-K D-A-R-K dark dark-

    Dark is like a movie, a movie's like a show
    A show is like a TV set and that is all I know

    I know my ma, I know I know my pa
    I know I know my sister with the 40-acre bra bra bra!



    I also know this version of the bathtub edition:
    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
    Mumps, said the doctor
    Measles, said the nurse
    Nothing, said the lady with the alligator purse
    Miss Lucy punched the doctor
    Miss Lucy kicked the nurse
    Miss Lucy paid the lady with the alligator purse!


    For me, Miss Suzie always meant the steamboat version and Miss Lucy always meant the bathtub version.

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  30. The "lady with the alligator purse" is a reference to Susan B. Anthony, who was known by her trademark handbag as Donald Trump is know today for his bad hair. The following version of the rhyme was reported by the press as being sung by children during on of Ms. Anthony's campaign swings through California towards the end of the 19th century:

    Miss Lulu had a baby, she called him tiny Tim.
    She put him in the bathtub, so see if he could swim.
    He drank up all the water! He ate up all the soap!
    He tried to swallow the bathtub, but it wouldn't go down his throat!!
    Call for the doctor!
    Call for the nurse!
    Call for the lady with the alligator purse!
    "Mumps!" said the doctor. "Measles!" said the nurse.
    "Vote!!" said the lady with the alligator purse!!

    When I grew-up in NYC in the 1960s & 70s, we "said "Chicken Pox" rather than vote, and the antique reference to the purse had lost meaning to us. But apparently it was universally understood commentary on current events (like "ring around the rosy" and the plague) back a few generations before.

    (You can get more details on this episode of the song's history from the scholars at the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House in Rochester NY.)

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    ReplyDelete
  32. Midland, Ontario, Canada (late 60s-early 70s)

    This is what we sang:

    Lulu had a steamboat
    The steamboat had a bell
    When Lulu went to heaven
    The steamboat went to
    Hello operator
    Please give me number nine
    And if you disconnect me
    I'll kick you in the
    Behind the iron curtain
    There was a piece of glass
    When Lulu sat upon it
    She hurt her little
    Ask me no more questions
    I'll tell you no more lies
    And that's the end of Lulu
    And all her great big lie lie lies

    Chesterville, Ontario, Canada (90s)

    This is what my kids sang:

    Dark is like a movie
    Movie's like a show
    Show is like a 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 18 meter bra

    I never knew that these two songs were connected until just now!

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  33. I've heard several of these! Love it! When I was younger though we sang a verse that goes like this "LuLu had a boyfriend (or baby) she named him Tiny Tim, She put him in the toilet to see if he could swim. He swam passed the river, he swam passes the falls, Lulu sat upon him and broke his little.... I cannot remember the next part! I've looked everywhere. If anyone knows please tell me.

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  34. Central NJ, 1983-1986 (commonly heard 1st through 5th grade)
    Here is the version I heard the girls sing with their hand-clapping game, with as much attention to exact wording as possible:

    Miss Lucy had a steamboat
    The steamboat had a bell
    Miss Lucy went to heaven and the steamboat went to-
    Hello operator, please give me number nine
    and if you disconnect me i will chop off your-
    Behind the 'frigerator, there was a piece of glass
    Miss Lucy sat upon and it went right up her-
    Ask me no more questions, i'll tell you no more lies
    The boys are in the boys' room, pulling down their-
    Flies are in the meadow, the bees are in the park
    Miss Lucy and her boyfriend, are kissing in the-
    D-A-R-K D-A-R-K D-A-R-K dark dark dark!

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  35. Suburban NY, early 1990s:

    Miss Lucy had a steamboat
    The steamboat had a bell
    Miss Lucy went to heaven
    The steamboat went to
    Hello operator
    Give me number nine
    And if you disconnect me
    I’ll cut off your
    Behind the ‘frigerator
    There was a piece of glass
    Miss Lucy sat upon it
    And broke her little
    Ask me no more questions
    I’ll tell you no more lies
    The boys are in the bathroom
    Pulling up their
    Flies are in the meadow
    The bees are in the park
    Boys and girls are kissing
    In the D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K, D-A-R-K
    Dark is like a movie
    A movie’s like a show
    A show is like a TV
    And that is all I know
    I know my mother
    I know I know my pa
    I know I know my sister
    In the littlest bra

    ReplyDelete

PLEASE tell us where and when you heard your version (ie, "Chicago, early 1950s). And please be aware that the information may end up in a book sooner or later.