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lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)

GUEST,Sheila 14 Jul 09 - 09:38 AM
Azizi 14 Jul 09 - 10:49 AM
Azizi 14 Jul 09 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,Sheila 14 Jul 09 - 01:14 PM
Joe Offer 14 Jul 09 - 01:43 PM
Joe Offer 14 Jul 09 - 01:59 PM
Joe Offer 14 Jul 09 - 02:12 PM
Azizi 14 Jul 09 - 03:13 PM
Azizi 14 Jul 09 - 03:30 PM
Azizi 14 Jul 09 - 03:58 PM
Cool Beans 14 Jul 09 - 04:10 PM
Azizi 14 Jul 09 - 04:56 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 03 Sep 09 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 03 Sep 09 - 02:53 PM
Azizi 03 Sep 09 - 03:24 PM
Azizi 03 Sep 09 - 03:45 PM
Azizi 03 Sep 09 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,SuziQ 28 Aug 13 - 07:56 PM
Dead Horse 29 Aug 13 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,Betty Pierce 31 Mar 14 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,margaret 14 Mar 15 - 08:24 PM
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Subject: Missy in the barn...
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 09:38 AM

I am interested in learning how this was sung/played/danced. I believe it is a children's game from the (American) south, maybe from the l940's. The words, as I recall, are
    "Missy (or "Sissy") in the barn, the barn O'Leary (O'Lairy?),
    Prettiest little missy I ever did see,
    Oh barn, barn, put your arms around me,
    Tell me little missy, won't you marry me.
    Step back now, don't you come near me,
    All those sassy things you say...."
and that's where my memory stops. Thank you.
Sheila


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Subject: RE: Missy in the barn...
From: Azizi
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 10:49 AM

"Sissy In The Barn" (also known as Bon Ton")*

Unfortunately, I'm not on my computer and don't have a print copy of the words to that game song. But I'm almost certain that that song was included in Altona Trent Johns' 1944 book Play Songs of the Deep South (Washington D.C, Stacks Associated Publishers). **
If I'm not mistaken, the title that was given to that song in that book was "Sissy In De Barn" (Bon Ton)

I found several online references to this song. Among them are:

http://new.music.yahoo.com/various-artists/tracks/sissy-in-de-barn-bamalam-a-cummala--58095814
Folkways Records Presents - Sissy In De Barn, Bamalam A Cummala (1978)From the album "Songs For Children From New York City"

and http://www.loc.gov/folklife/guides/Children.html

A SELECTED LIST OF ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FOLKSONGS OF THE UNITED STATES SUNG BY CHILDREN
IN THE RECORDED COLLECTIONS OF THE ARCHIVE OF FOLK CULTURE

AFS 884B4-886B3: Eight songs sung by older children. Brandon, Mississippi, March 9, 1937.

884B4: "Rabbit in garden"
886A1: "Loop de loop"
886A2: "Rubber dolly"
886A3: "Sissy in the barn"
886A4: "Little Rosie Lee"
886B1: "Everybody happy"
886B2: "I sing a little song about a little tree"
886B3: "Here comes one gentleman from Spain"


There's also a MP3 of "Sissy In The Barnyard" from this website:
http://www.floridamemory.com/collections/folklife/folklife_cd.cfm [click #15 to hear an Mp3 of this song]

"Music from the Florida Folklife Collection
From "Shove It Over," a WPA recording of a work song performed by Zora Neale Hurston, to "Orange Blossom Special," performed by Gamble Rogers and Will McLean, this CD spans fifty years of Florida folk music."


Notes:
"Sissy In The Barn"-Carver Elementary School
Recorded: 6 May 1954 by Foster Barnes [Stephen Foster Center]
1954 Florida Folk Festival, White Springs, Florida"

-snip-

Another version of "Sissy In The Barn" can be found at:

http://www.rhapsody.com/album/field-recordings-vol-4-mississippi-alabama-1934-1942?artistId=art.11060459

Eva Grace Boone appears on

Field Recordings
Vol. 4: Mississippi &
Alabama (1934-1942) Your Rating   Play/Add All

Record Label: Document Records

Originally released: 13-SEP-2005


-snip-

Shiela, it's difficult to make out the words for both of these songs. But I'm 99% confident that the words are "Oh Bon Ton" instead of "Oh barn barn" and that the chorus/refrain on both of these Mp3's is:

Oh Bon Ton [or "Oh Bon Bon" which if so is likely a folk etymology for "Bon Ton"]
Throw your arms around me
little Sissy [or "Pretty little Sissy]
Won't you marry me?

-snip-

Unfortunately, I can't make out what the phrase "the barn O'Leary (O'Lairy?)" is on either of those Mp3s.   

As to how this game was played, if I remember correctly what I read, this is a circle (ring) game which was played by girls & boys. One girl (Sissy) is in the center of the ring, and dances to a boy who then joins her in the center. I don't recall the instructions explaining how the next "Sissy" was picked.

*"Sissy" used to be a common nickname for a girl (from the word "sister". In the context of this song, "Sissy" just means girl and not a person's female sibling. I thought that bon ton was some kind of candy but according to http://www.answers.com/topic/bon-ton that phrase means:

1.
a.A sophisticated manner or style.
b.The proper thing to do.
2.High society.

** I've attempted to contact this publisher but haven't been able to do so. If anyone knows who owns the copyright for the songs in this book, I appreciate if they would share it here]

In this song, I think that the definitions 1(a) and 2 apply.

I'll be interested to read more about this song from others.


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Subject: RE: Missy in the barn...
From: Azizi
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 10:54 AM

I meant to say that the http://www.rhapsody.com/album/field-recordings-vol-4-mississippi-alabama-1934-1942?artistId=art.11060459 also has a MP3 of "Sissy In The Barn" which is slightly different than the other one I posted.

Also, I think that the phrase is "all those sassy words you say" and not "sassy things" etc.

To help people find this thread, I'm going to take the liberty of requesting that a moderator add "Sissy In The Barn" to the title.


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Subject: RE: Missy in the barn...
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 01:14 PM

Azizi, thanks so much for your input. I've contacted the State Archives of Florida. "Bon, bon, put your arms around me..." certainly makes more sense than "Barn, barn...." I recall stepping back on those appropriate words and shaking the index finger on "All those sassy things..." Thanks again.


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Subject: ADD: Sissy in de Barn / Sissy in the Barn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 01:43 PM

Roud (click) has three listings, all three collected by John Lomax.

The Library of Congress American Memory Collection as a recording you can listen to here (click).

Here are the field notes:

    2718
    Sissy in de barn-game song-Julia Griffin and group
      

    SISSY IN DE BARN

    Sissy in de barn, join de wedding
       Prettiest little couple I ever did see,
       Oh, bye-an'-bye put yo' arms around me
       Says, little sissy, won't you marry me.

       Oh, step back, gal, don't you come near me,
       All those sassy words you say
       Bye-an'-baye, throw yo' arms around me
       Pretty little sissy, won't you marry me.


--Joe-


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Subject: ADD Version: Sissy in de Barn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 01:59 PM

Here's the version from Folkways 07858, Songs for Children from New York City (1978)

SISSY IN DE BARN

Sissy in de barn, de barn de leary.
Prettiest little gal I ever did see.
Oh barn, barn put your arms around me.
Say pretty sissy won't you marry me.
Oh step back gal, don't you come near me.
All those sassy words you say.
Oh barn, barn put your arms around me.
Say pretty sissy won't you marry me.

The children circle holding hands during the first part of the game. The child in the middle picks a partner and dances with him. The partner rejects the child with exaggerated movements on "step back gal." They reconcile and dance again at the end. The partner now becomes the new "Sissy."


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Subject: ADD Version: Sissy in the Barn
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 02:12 PM

Here's the version from Folkways FW07856, Caribbean Songs and Games for Children (1978)

SISSY IN THE BARN (Trinidad)

Sissy in the barn the barn de lerie
Sissy in the cupboard, the cupboard we'll see,
Oh by and by, I'm the one who
Say little Sissy won't you marry me.
Just step back girl
Don't come near me
Say little Sissy won't you marry me.

The children are in a circle with "Sissy" in the middle. She chooses a partner on "Oh barn." On "step back," she pushes the partner from her, points her finger and shakes her hip. They reconcile at the end and she leaves her partner (usually a boy) in the middle of the circle to start again.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Azizi
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 03:13 PM

After considerable searching through my files which absolutely need to be in better order, I found the copy of Altona Trent John's book Play Songs Of The Deep South (Yes, I know. I shouldn't have made a copy of a complete book but felt justified in doing so because this book can't be purchased).

In any event, Trent John's book includes two versions of "Bon Ton or Sissy In De Barn" (pages 1-5) Note: two of these pages are drawings. One drawing shows girls and boys outdoors forming a circle [with the children not holding hands]and a girl & boy in the center of the circle. The other drawing shows a girl and boy outdoors dancing the two step [with no other children in the drawing.] A piano score is provided for the first "arrangement" of this song. The words to the second arrangement of "Bon Ton" are given within a piano score.

Here's the lyrics and directions from that book:

BON TON

or

SISSY IN DE BARN

Sissy in de barn,
O jine de weddin'
Sweetes' li'l' couple I e'er did see,
O Bon Ton, put yo' arms around me!
Say, Ii'l' Sissy, Won't you marry me?

Get back, gal.
Get yo' arms from 'round me!
All those sassy words you say,
O Bon Ton, put yo' arms around me!
Say, Ii'l' Sissy, Won't you marry me?
Get back, boy,
Don't put yo' arms around me!
All those foolin' words you say,
O Bon Ton, put yo' arms around me!
Say, 'li'l' Sissy, Won't you marry me?

(Sissy" is affectionate for "little Sister")

Directions
Any number may participate. The players form a large circle with a boy in the center.
They clap hands on each beat throughout as they swing.
1.        Boy in center advances in short, skip-like steps to a girl in the circle and stops in front of her on the words, "li'l' couple".
2.        He catches girl's right hand in his.
3.        They take position for social dancing.
4.        They move to center and dance the "two step" inside the circle.
5.        Pushes girl gently from him
6.        Shakes finger in mock anger at girl, meanwhile skipping back to her.
7.        Same as (2)
8.        Same as (3)
9.        Same as (4)
10.        Reverse (5), i.e. girl pushes boy from her.
11.        Reverse (6)
12.        Use steps (2), (3), and (4) again.
13.        At the conclusion of the above directions this girl and boy join the ring, some other boy goes to center and the dance is begun again.

This should be sung and danced gaily and not dragged out.

-snip-

BON TON
"This second arrangement of "Bon Ton" can be played by more advanced pianists. It would provide a more colorful and more difficult accompaniment for the dance and could also be used as a piano solo...

The author provides more information provided about how the piano solo is played. The lyrics are the same as above.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Azizi
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 03:30 PM

Through Google, I also found this resource listing:

JSTOR: Play Songs of the Deep South
and "Bon Ton, or Sissy in de Barn"- show traces of plantation origin. The former belongs to the cycle of songs about the cornfield rabbit that invades the ...
links.jstor.org/sici?sici=1556...0.CO%3B2-I - Similar
by BA Botkin

-snip-

Unfortunately, I can't access any JSTOR files. However, it seems clear that "Missy In The Barn" is defintely not the correct title for this children's dance song.

Furthermore, I think that the problem with fauly transcriptions is that they are faulty and also that they so often are repeated almost as the gospel truth.

I believe that the following are faulty transcriptions or (not necessarily of this book) are [in italics]:

From Folkways 07858, Songs for Children from New York City (1978)
"Oh barn, barn put your arms around me"

From Folkways FW07856, Caribbean Songs and Games for Children (1978)

Sissy in the cupboard, the cupboard we'll see,
Oh by and by, I'm the one who [ It appears to me that some words are missing]

-snip-

Then again these could be examples of folk etymology instead of faulty transcriptions. But my point is that "Bon Ton" was probably the original words and not "barn, barn" or "by and by". Also, "Sissy in the barn" was probably the original words and not "Sissy In The cupboard".

[Italics added by me to highlight those words or to indicate my words-the last statement italized]

**

Needless to say, this song was performed during the time when girls and boys played together. No boy over the age of five years would willingly play such a game now, and most children don't know what a "two step" is.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Azizi
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 03:58 PM

Here's a corrected sentence turned into two sentences:

I believe that the following words and phrases (given in italics) are faulty transcriptions. However, I acknowledge that these esamples aren't necessarily transcriptions of the song in Altona Trent John's book.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Cool Beans
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 04:10 PM

I remember Sissy in the Barn pretty much the way Sheila does ("Barn, barn...") but the version we did stopped at "Tell me, little Sissy, will you marry me." This was at a day camp in Mohegan Lake NY around 1955. I never understood the meaning of "Barn, barn, put your arms aound me." Thanks, Azizi, for clearing that up.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Azizi
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 04:56 PM

You're welcome, Sheila, and Cool Beans.

I love doing work like this.

Thank you Sheila for providing the opportunity, Joe Offer for revising the title and finding those other examples, and Cool Beans for letting folks know that that song was part of the day camp repertoire in New York around 1955.

For the record (no pun intended), I feel that I should mention that the drawings that Trent John used in her book were clearly of Black girls and Black boys. In addition, the JSTOR reference to "Sissy In The Barn" as a "plantation song" strongly suggests that at least this version of the song is of African American origin.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 02:47 PM

Hi Azizi and all,

Though I love the phrase "Sissy in the barn," it's likely to be, instead, "Sissy in the bond."

Furthermore I'm almost certain I have somewhere run across a version of this play party song actually titled "Sissy in the Bond." (Wish I remembered where, but I can't trace it.)

What Cissy is in, apparently, judging by the dance directions that put her and the boy in the circle, is a bond, or a place she can't get out of till she completes the song's action.

Listening to the available field recordings, it's hard to tell. But I thought I'd pass along the suggestion for what it's worth.

Bob


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 02:53 PM

Oops, I meant to add:

"The barn, a-lary" or ("de leary") may actually be meant as "a-lary" in some versions.

"A-lary" occurs in the skipping rhyme "One, two, three, a-lary," which I believe has been known to both white and African American children since the 19th century. I've always understood this nonsense phrase to mean something like "and so on," though that's guesswork ... it may mean nothing. But it is common in children's rhyming, so it makes sense here.

Bob


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 03:24 PM

Hi, Bob!

I suppose that it is possible that the word "barn" in this song might originally have been "bond".

But my gut reaction rejects that word since it's so close to "bondage" and this is an African American song that was sung and acted out by girls and boys who may have had parents or grandparents who'd been enslaved.

I just don't think "bond" fits with the theme of the song.

**

Rather than that "bond" word, it's possible that Altona Trent Johns, the author of the 1944 book Play Songs of the Deep South inclusion of the alternative title for this song "Bon Ton" provides a hint about the song's "real" title.

Maybe the original title of the song was "Sissy is the Bon" (somewhat like the current African American slang saying that someone or something is the bomb! (meaning that that person or that thing is really good).

I'm just kidding. Maybe.

But I checked out the meaning of "bon ton" and found this:

bon ton (bn tn)
n.
1.
a. A sophisticated manner or style.
b. The proper thing to do.
2. High society.

Noun 1. bon ton - the fashionable elite               
beau monde, high society, smart set, society
Four Hundred - the exclusive social set of a city
elite, elite group - a group or class of persons enjoying superior intellectual or social or economic status

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bon+ton

**

Hum...Maybe that song was praising Sissy for getting her man. In doing so, she showed that she was the Bon Ton.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 03:45 PM

With regard to the phrase "a-lary":

There are a number of examples of this rhyme in Mudcat threads and there may be more than one thread that focuses on this rhyme.

Here's the link to one thread:

thread.cfm?threadid=11034

And here's an example of one form of the rhyme:

Subject: RE: Lyr Req: One-Two-Three-O'Lairy (Count Basie 1940)
From: GUEST,Ann J Scotland - PM
Date: 25 Jun 09 - 02:32 PM

round about 1966, i would play ball games againt a wall using 2 balls and sometimes only one hand!! (impressive!!)

i remember:-

one two three o'leery
four five six o'leery
seven eight nine o'leery
ten o'leery
out of it.

-snip-

I haven't read the entire thread so I'm not certain why the subtitle is Count Basie 1940 unless that jazz musician recorded a song that included this phrase in it.

**

"One two three o'leery" (That spelling is the way I think it's pronounced in the USA) is usually a ball bouncing rhyme. I think the tune is like "Ten Little Indians" (which isn't a culturally sensitive song-but that's another subject).

I have a very vague memory of singing this song while bouncing a ball between my legs not throwing it against a wall as I think was/is? the custom in the UK from what I've been reading on Mudcat threads. But ball bouncing, like single jump rope or jumping rope with two people holding the ends-is rather a dying art, for a lot of reasons including electric dryers.

At any rate, I've been collecting children's rhymes among African American children in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area since 1997-going out to schools and community centers etc, and asking children what play songs they know. And no one has ever mentioned "One two three aleery".

In addition, since 2001 I've had a website for children's playground rhymes http://www.cocojams.com/, and no one has ever submitted the rhyme "one two three aleery" or any other ball bouncing rhyme to that website.

Thus my unscientific conclusion is that few[er] children are singing that rhyme.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Sep 09 - 05:24 PM

I just read the above linked thread One-Two-Three-O'Lairy (Count Basie 1940). The reference to Count Basie is was apparently because of a "a little novelty [recordin] for Jimmy [Rushing] called One-Two-Three O'Lairy" {excerpt from the original post to that thread-Ewan McVicar).

Also, see this quote from the same thread in which Sandy Paton provides an explanation for the word "o'leery (and similar spellings):

"By the way, Jean Redpath pointed out, as she was doing one of these ball-bouncing/leg-cross-over games, that there is a line in Piers Plowman about beggars sitting at the city gate, "Legs aleery." I'm not sure of the spelling, but the meaning was clear: they had their legs crossed, i.e.: sitting in what we call "Indian fashion." In the game, of course, the player crosses her leg (this is usually considered a girl's game) over the bouncing ball."

**

One phrase that is found in quite a number of different contemporary playground rhymes in the USA (and elsewhere?) is "Criss cross/applesauce". That phrase may indicate that the chanters' legs are to be crossed while chanting those lines. However, sometimes "criss cross/applesauce" is found in some rhymes for its rhyming effect. I think an example of this use is when "criss cross/applesauce" is found in the very popular handclap rhyme "Brickwall Waterfall".


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: GUEST,SuziQ
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 07:56 PM

I recall singing this in grade school (very early 1960s)& I recall it was of French origin: Missy in the barn the barn O'Leary...sweetiest little missy I ever did see ..oh Bon Bon wont you be my partner, say little missy wont you dance with me


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: Dead Horse
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 06:27 PM

Bon Ton is a corruption of the French Bon Temps = Good times
As still used by Cajun speakers today.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: GUEST,Betty Pierce
Date: 31 Mar 14 - 09:03 AM

When I was in the 4th and 5th grades in a little country school in North Alabama, we played this game, both girls and boys. I cannot remember how the went but we were in a circle. This is how we sang the song......................Sissy in the Bon, was the name of it or that is what we called it.   Sissy in the bon, bon in the lerry. Prettiest little girl that I ever did see. Oh bon, bon, put your arms around me. Say my little sissy won't you marry me. Oh step back gal, don't you come nigh me, All those sassy words you said. Oh bon bon put your arms around me. Pretty little sissy, won't you marry me...........This was in the late 1930's. I will be 85 years on April 18, 2014. The reason why I remember the song so well is that I guess I liked it and I would sing it at home all the time. My uncle still at home at time learned it to and it stuck with him as long as he lived. I have a tape with him singing it. As I remember we would sing it real fast.


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Subject: RE: lyr/info req: Sissy/Missy in the barn... (Bon Ton)
From: GUEST,margaret
Date: 14 Mar 15 - 08:24 PM

THe poster who cited a 60s grade school songbook has the lyrics as I remember them from the same source:

Missy in the barn, the barn, O'Leary
Sweetest little missy I ever did see,
O bon-bon, won't you be my partner?
Say little missy, won't you dance with me?

Step back, gal.
Don't you come nearer.
All those sassy words you say!
Oh bon-bon, won't you be my partner,
Say little missy, won't you dance with me.

The book was issued by Los Angeles school district. The series was excellent.


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