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View Full Version : Anyone know? Skipping rhymes & public domain?



illiterwrite
09-16-2008, 11:14 PM
I'm sure this isn't in the right spot. Is it?

I'm trying to track down the origins of the following skipping rhyme:

Girl guide, girl guide, dressed in blue,
These are the actions you must do:
Stand at attention, stand at ease,
Bend your elbows, bend your knees.

Salute to the captain, bow to the Queen,
Turn your back on the dirty submarine.
I can do the heel and toe, I can do the splits.
I can do the hootchy-kootchy, just like this.

I had assumed it would be in public domain, but my copy editor has tracked it down to a source published by Random House at some point. Anyone ever researched skipping songs & their history? Thanks!

StephanieFox
09-17-2008, 12:08 AM
Source: Kids' Games Too! by Elaine Martin. Random House.

MaryMumsy
09-17-2008, 12:25 AM
I did some googling and found a couple of references with additional verses, one of which referred to the King. That would mean it was pre-1952. Since you are in Canada, do you know any girl guides? Perhaps they have a book of songs that would give you more information. My perception is that the Random House book is/was a compilation of previously existing material. But I couldn't find anything other than vague references to the book.

pdr
09-17-2008, 12:34 AM
Ian and Val Opie in the UK did a couple of books where they had researched and collected such skipping chants into 'Children's Rhymes and Games'.

Sandi LeFaucheur
09-17-2008, 01:35 AM
Okay...let's all drag those skipping rhymes out of our memories!

How about:

I'm a little bumper car
Number 23
Went around a corner (at which point you run out, around one of the enders, and in again)
And bumped into a tree.

And:

Girl guide, girl guide, dressed in yellow
This is the way you treat your fellow.
Hug him, kiss him, kick him in the pants,
And that's the end of your romance!

Any others?

illiterwrite
09-17-2008, 02:46 AM
I did some googling and found a couple of references with additional verses, one of which referred to the King. That would mean it was pre-1952. Since you are in Canada, do you know any girl guides? Perhaps they have a book of songs that would give you more information. My perception is that the Random House book is/was a compilation of previously existing material. But I couldn't find anything other than vague references to the book.

That's what I thought too. I am in Canada, and I used to have a Girl Guide book, but that would have been from the seventies or maybe sixties.

I'm still stumped. I thought this kind of oral song would be permission free.

comradebunny
09-17-2008, 03:19 AM
I have no clue, but find this such and interesting question. I never thought about it before.

Puma
09-17-2008, 05:33 AM
A variation of that rhyme (no girl guides) was in use by the high school in my neighborhood as a cheer back in the 50's (in the states). With the reference to the Girl Guides, I'd look back at Girl Guide/Girl Scout material - even on back to the 20's. The submarine verse might not be the original one. Puma

ideagirl
09-17-2008, 07:28 PM
I thought this kind of oral song would be permission free.

It probably is. Check the Random House book and see how it bills itself--is it a collection of preexisting children's skipping songs? If so, the copyright covers the collection (i.e. you can't publish your own skipping-song compilation using the same songs in the same order), but not the underlying material (i.e. not each individual song).

And even if the book doesn't make it clear that it's a compilation, if it was published in 1952 it could possibly be in the public domain now.

Evaine
09-18-2008, 12:11 AM
We used to sing:
"Salute to the Captain, bow to the Queen - and show your knickers to the football team!"
when we would bend over and lift our skirts up.

We also did "I'm a little bubble car" rather than "bumper car" - they were little, one person cars in the 1950s and 60s.

Another one (trust me to remember the rude bits!) followed a girl's career from childhood to adulthood with a verse:
"Ooh, aah, I lost my bra,
I lost it in the vicar's car."

I don't remember skipping to this one, but I do remember singing a song which had to date from the end of the Second World War:
"Down in the jungle,
Living in a tent,
Cheaper than a pre-fab,
No rent!"

Pre-fabs, or pre-fabricated houses, were built quickly at the end of the war to house people who had been bombed out of their own homes.

And of course, there was "Salt, mustard, vinegar, pepper."
I'm sure there was a different style of skipping for each word, but I only remember pepper, which was as fast as possible.

Puma
09-18-2008, 02:05 AM
Okay, the skipping song I grew up with was ...

Down in the valley where the green grass grows
There sat (girl's name) as sweet as a Rose
She sang. She sang. She sang so sweet
Along came (boy's name) and kissed her on the cheek
How many kisses did she get that week?

And then the spinners would spin faster while everyone counted out the number of kisses before the skipper missed.

illiterwrite
09-18-2008, 03:54 AM
Heh. I remember that pepper one too. Do kids even skip anymore? Our playground had...concrete. I think there might have been a hopscotch grid painted somewhere. You either skipped or threw balls wrapped in nylons against the wall. Or you ate grapes out of baggies and compared friendship pins.

MaryMumsy
09-18-2008, 05:58 AM
Following the trail left by StephanieFox, the Random House book was copyright 1993. But the reference to 'the King' would make the rhyme much older.

MM

illiterwrite
09-18-2008, 06:44 AM
Yes, that's what I'm thinking. I don't think I'm going to worry about permissions in this case.

Thanks, everyone.