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lyr/info req: Old mother sow


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GUEST,genie 21 Oct 08 - 08:45 AM
Azizi 21 Oct 08 - 09:10 AM
Azizi 21 Oct 08 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,old mother sow 21 Oct 08 - 08:48 PM
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Subject: Old mother sow
From: GUEST,genie
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 08:45 AM

I believe this is an original probably created by mother grandfather about 100 years ago:

"Old mother sow stood at the gate
and said "Now piggys pappas later
Until he comes you run and play
but mind now don't go far away."

Haw anyone heard this before?
I know a couple more stanzas.

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Subject: RE: Old mother sow
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 09:10 AM

GUEST,genie, the rhyme that you shared reminds me of the children's games that have the titles "Witch In The Well", Chicama Chicama Craney Crow"' or "I'm Going Downtown To Smoke My Pipe".

Here's a link to a short Mudcat thread about those games:


Here's a description of a version of that game. {There's a hyperlink to this website on that Mudcat thread. But I'm posting a longish excerpt from that website to help perserve this game for the folkloric record}:

Witch In The Well
By Thom Holbrook

   "Some kids might like their games of tag or hide and seek. Me, I liked the funkier games like Witch In The Well. It's sort of a variation on tag if you get right down to it but the tag part is almost beside the point. It's really more of an acting thing. More play than play.

   The game is literally a mini-play for four or more kids with everyone playing a part. One kid plays the parent, two play the kids and the last kid plays the witch in the well. With more than four kids I guess you could pad it out with an extra parent and some extra kids. Seems to me we almost always ended up with four kids when we played.

   The "witch" takes her position in the "well", wherever that is chosen to be. In our case it was always the phone pole in front of our house down near the road (we lived on a dead end street so no worries about traffic). Then "Dad" and his "kids" took their position in their "house". Again, in our case, that meant the front porch of our real house. The rest of the game went word for word the same way every time. Dad would turn to the kids and say...

Dad: I'm going downtown to smoke my pipe and I won't be back till Saturday night. And don't get into the brown sugar and butter.

   Why this? I dunno. That's the line. Seems dad was kind of a bad parent, apparently abandoning his kids for maybe several days to go smoking in town. The kids are goofy too because they apparently just jones for brown sugar and butter. The minute dad leaves, that's what they're after.

   Dad leaves to go to town. The kid playing dad acts this by going for a walk around the house. Once he's gone it's the kid's job to start miming that they are just eating like crazy. Now the idea is you don't know when dad is coming back so you need to just pig out. It's all play but there really was this sort of excitement as to when dad would get back and catch you.

   He always caught you. That's a set part of the game. The kid walking around the house – Dad - would sometimes go slow, sometimes run like the wind. He/she would try to mess with the time of the walk to maximize the surprise of Dad's return. Likewise, that kid would want to make a good entrance. Maybe hide around the corner for a minute in case someone looked around if he was coming. Then when the kid looked away he run in fast to maximize the surprise.

Dad would run in saying something like, "Ah haaaa!!!" The kids immediately hide their hands to conceal the evidence of their butter/sugar madness. Dad strides powerfully up to the kids.

Dad: Let me see your hands.

Kids: No.


The kids show him their hands. Dad lightly smacks their hands.

Dad: Dirty, dirty! (one "dirty" with each hand smack) Go wash them in the well.

   Now, the witch finally gets some action. The kids walk down to the "well". Just as they get to the well, the witch jumps out (from behind the phone pole), yells, "Arrrrr!!!" and chases the kids back "home". Actually the witch only fakes chasing them. Once they turn tail the witch goes back into the well. The kids run "home" yelling in fear.

Kids: Daddy daddy! There's a witch in the well!!!

   Here dad could kind of make up his lines. He basically has to get across that what the kids are saying is crazy. The kids can argue back a little too. Then dad orders them again to go wash their hands. Example:

Dad: What are you nutty? There's no witch in the well!

Kids: Yes there is there really is!

Dad: You're drunk! There's no witch in the well.

Kids: We're not drunk! We're hopped up on sugar and loaded up with raw butter but, really, there is a witch in the well.

Dad: I don't believe you, now go wash your hands!

So the kids go back to the well. The same thing happens with the witch chasing them home. Once again the kids tell dad there is a witch in the well. This time dad is a bit more reasonable and agrees to go with them to the well. The kids always yell the same thing but Dad can vamp a bit.

Kids: Daddy, daddy, there's a witch in the well!!!

Dad: Alright, I've had enough of this. Let's go down to well and see what's going on.

   They all head down to the well, the kids cowering a bit behind dad. Now when they go down the witch isn't hiding but instead just sort of hanging out. Back to the hand and fast dialogue.

Dad: What are you doing in my well?

Witch: Smoking my pipe.

Dad: Why are you smoking your pipe?

Witch: To make ashes?

Dad: Why are you making ashes?

Witch: To sharpen my knife.

Dad: Why are you sharpening your knife?


At that point the witch rushes at everyone and the game becomes a quick game of tag (but with a heck of a freaky backstory) with the first victim being the person who next has to play the witch"...

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Subject: RE: Old mother sow
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 09:24 AM

A version of Chickama Chicama Craney Crow is found in Thomas Talley's 1922 collection Negro Folk Rhymes, Wise And Otherwise {Kennnikat Press Edition, 1968; p. 74}. Here's that rhyme:

(Chicken's Call)
Chickamee chickamee, cranie-crow
I went to de well to wash my toe.
W'en I came back, my chicken wus gone.
W'at time, ole Witch?
(Hawk Sponse)
(Hawk Call)
"I wants a chick"
(Chicken's Sponse
"Well, you cain't git mine".
(Hawk Call)
"I shall have a chick!"
(Chicken's Sponse)
You shan't have a chick!"


genie, I'm interested to know if you think that there might be any connection between these games and the rhyme that you remember from your grandparent. Also, I'd love it if you would post other verses of "old mother sow" that you remember.

Best wishes,


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Old mother sow
From: GUEST,old mother sow
Date: 21 Oct 08 - 08:48 PM

I think that my grandfather probably wrote this himself:

Old mother sow stoud at the gate
and said "Now piggies papas late.
Until he comes you run and play
But mind now don't go far away
cause Bogie Farmer may be near.

To what Ma said they paid no heed
It was dreadful yes indeed.
Cause Bogie Farmer came and got all three.
And at the gate the poor old sow
is crying for her piggies now.

There's more I just don't remember. Papa sow saves the piggies.

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