The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #90418   Message #1713528
Posted By: Azizi
08-Apr-06 - 11:07 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread

"Miss Lucy Had A Baby" is a children's rhyme that tells the tale of a bathroom mishap that usually involves a baby named "Tiny Tim".
In different versions of these rhymes Tiny Tim's mother may be named "Miss Lucy", or "Miss Susie {Suzie},"Miss Molly" or some other name. I've also collected a version of this rhyme in which a girl named "Virgina" tells the tale about her brother, Tiny Tim. I've also found one example in which Tiny Tim is a dog, and another in which Tiny Tim is a teddy bear!

It appears that this rhyme is recited by girls about 5-12 years while they perform handclap routines. But it may have started out as and still be performed as a jumprope rhyme.

I think that "Miss Lucy Had A Baby" originated in the USA, but I'm not sure of that. And if it did originate in the USA, I'm not sure when and which population [read "race"] first composed it. One thing is certain-versions of this rhyme are found in other nations, particularly those which are predominately English speaking.

Here's an example from Canada posted on another Mudcat thread:

Miss Molly had a baby,
The baby's name was Tim,
She put him in a bathtub,
To see if he could swim.
He ate up all the water,
He drank up all the soap,
He woulda ate the bathtub but it wouldn't fit his throat!
Miss Molly called the doctor,
Miss Molly called the nurse,
Miss Molly called the lady with the alligator purse!
Measles said the doctor,
Measles said the nurse,
Pizza said the lady with the alligator purse!
Miss Molly shot the doctor,
Miss Molly stabbed the nurse,
Miss Molly paid the lady with the alligator purse!
Source:, Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho,
         I Bit the Teacher's Toe!"; GUEST; 13 Apr 05
    Demographics provided: Early [19]'90's, Calgary, Canada

However, what appears to be the most often published version of thie rhyme is this one {with the exception of the "Measles, Mumps" verse}:

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 fit down his throat.

Miss Lucy called the doctor
The doctor called the nurse
The nurse called the lady
with the alligator purse.

In came the doctor
In came the nurse
In came the lady
with the alligator purse.

"Measles," said the doctor,
"Mumps," said the nurse,
"Nothing," said the lady
with the alligator purse.

Out went the doctor
Out went the nurse
Out went the lady
with the alligator purse.
-collected by Azizi in 1999 from anonymous White woman {Pittsburgh, PA} from her childhood recollections of growing up in Washington, DC. in the 1980s.


BTW, I have not seen nor have I heard this rhyme among African American children in Pittsburgh, PA, the principle source for the playground rhymes that I collect. [This of course doesn't mean that it is not now or was recited among this population. It just means that I haven't heard it or seen it or had it recited to me]


If someone remembers this rhyme recited while playing jump rope, I wonder if she or he can confirm if kids jumped in on the words "In comes the doctor etc" and jumped out on the words "Out went the doctor"..

Btw2-From my childhood, I vaguely remember this as a jumprope rhyme, with the words "Out goes the doctor,out goes the nurse, out goes the lady with the alligator purse}.