The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #100653   Message #2021731
Posted By: Azizi
10-Apr-07 - 06:31 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes
Subject: RE: Down Down Baby-Race in Children's Rhymes
I just looked through my files and found an example of the "I Am A ___/My Boyfriend's Name is___" rhyme that I collected from that same school and that includes the "strawberry curls" phrase. So much for my theory about that...

Although that rhyme doesn't mention race, it might be useful to post it here as contrast to the example that does mention race.

Wooble Wooble Wooble
And ah 1, 2, 3
I am a lit tle first grader
s pretty as can be be.
nd all the boys around my house
go crazy over me me.

My boyfriend's name is Yel low.
He comes from Ala ba ma
with 25 toes
and a pickle on his nose
and this is how the story goes

One day I was ah walk ing
I saw my boyfriend talk ing
to a very pretty girl
with strawberry curls.
And this is what she said

"I l. o. ve love you."
"I k. i. ss kiss you."
"I a d.ore adore you"
So s .t .o .p. STOP!
-female first grade students Tarea, Kayla, Kaylin (African American), and Ha and Hung (Vietnamese, ages 5-7 years old); Fort Pitt Elementary School {Pittsburgh Pa, 2000}; collected by Azizi Powell, 2000

"Wooble Wooble Wooble" was performed as a competitive handclap game. The group formed a circle and each person held the "pinky" (small finger) of the person standing next two them on each side. In unison, the group recited the introductory line "Wooble Wooble Wooble and the deep blue sea" while swinging their arms back and forth in rhythm with each word. The words "Deep blue sea is chanted faster than "Wooble Wooble Wooble." The group then let go of their little fingers and in unison, begans chanting the rhyme. At an acknowledged starting point in the circle, one person lightly slapped the hand of the person to her right as she and the group chanted one word of the song. With each word or syllable {such as "lit tle"}, the next person lightly slapped the person to her   right. With no change in the tempo of the recitation, the person whose hand had been slapped then slaps the hand of the person on her right. The action continues around the circle. The person whose hand is slapped at the last word "Stop" is out. When the number of players was down to two people, these two stood facing each other and took turns slapping each other's hand with each word. At some point in the recititation, one of the 'competitors' moved her hand away to soon, or otherwise missed her slap, and therefore was out. The object of the game is to be the last person in the game.

In my experience, elementary school age boys often don't mind joining in {but not initiating} these competitive group handclap games. However, after about the 2nd or 3rd grade {about age 8 or 9 years}, I've found that boys usually don't want to do the partner handclap routines. In contrast, I've found that girls continued playing these partner {and 3 and 4 person} games as well as the group games up to age 12 or 13 years.

These verses have been included, with slight differences, in a number of collections of American children's rhymes {such as Knapp (1976) }

"Wooble Wooble Wooble" probably did not originate among African Americans. However, I believe that the beginning introductory phrase "Wooble Wooble Wooble and ah 1, 2, 3", is an African American element. I have not found this and other introductory phrases such as "Zing Zing ZIng and ah 1, 2, 3" in previously published examples of this rhyme.

The double words such as those found in the first verse of this rhyme ("as pretty as can be be"; "go crazy over me me") is also an element that I have not found in previously published versions of this rhyme. Such repletion enhances the syncopation of the rhyme and may also be considered a characteristic of African American children's rhymes.