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Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread

Joybell 08 Apr 06 - 09:35 PM
Azizi 08 Apr 06 - 09:55 PM
Naemanson 08 Apr 06 - 10:23 PM
Azizi 08 Apr 06 - 11:07 PM
Briagha 09 Apr 06 - 01:28 AM
Bert 09 Apr 06 - 02:31 AM
Joybell 09 Apr 06 - 07:04 PM
Azizi 09 Apr 06 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,Neighmond 10 Apr 06 - 02:03 AM
Azizi 10 Apr 06 - 07:17 AM
Azizi 10 Apr 06 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,leeneia 10 Apr 06 - 12:55 PM
Azizi 10 Apr 06 - 05:02 PM
Joybell 11 Apr 06 - 05:46 AM
Mo the caller 11 Apr 06 - 06:33 AM
PoppaGator 11 Apr 06 - 12:24 PM
Joybell 11 Apr 06 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,girl 21 Apr 06 - 04:57 PM
Azizi 21 Apr 06 - 05:31 PM
M.Ted 21 Apr 06 - 06:06 PM
Azizi 21 Apr 06 - 06:24 PM
M.Ted 21 Apr 06 - 08:18 PM
Azizi 21 Apr 06 - 08:46 PM
M.Ted 21 Apr 06 - 08:58 PM
Joybell 22 Apr 06 - 07:24 PM
GUEST 27 Feb 11 - 01:54 PM
MGM·Lion 27 Feb 11 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Grishka 27 Feb 11 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Nancy Silverrod 31 Oct 11 - 12:30 PM
Jon Corelis 13 Mar 12 - 10:56 AM
Azizi 13 Mar 12 - 01:21 PM
Azizi 13 Mar 12 - 01:32 PM
Jon Corelis 13 Mar 12 - 07:08 PM
Jon Corelis 13 Mar 12 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,azizi 13 Mar 12 - 08:38 PM
Azizi 15 Oct 13 - 09:20 AM
Azizi 15 Oct 13 - 09:25 AM
Azizi 15 Oct 13 - 09:36 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Joybell
Date: 08 Apr 06 - 09:35 PM

Azizi has already been here but I think it deserves it's own thread. I'm using the children's rhyme "Miss Lucy had a Baby" in a play. The question about the aligator purse is nagging at me. I see that Azizi is asking too.
Here's the rhyme (in one of it's forms):

Miss Lucy had a baby
She named it Tiny Tim
She put it in the bathtub
To see if it could swim
It drank up all the water
It ate up all the soap
It tried to eat the bathtub
But it wouldn't go down its throat
Miss Lucy called the doctor
Miss Lucy called the nurse
Miss Lucy called the lady
With the alligator purse
Measles said the doctor
Mumps said the nurse
Nothing said the lady
With the alligator purse
Miss Lucy kicked the doctor
Miss Lucy punched the nurse
Miss Lucy paid the lady
With the alligator purse.

Like Azizi I had an instant impression of a "Healer" of the old style. African-American? Cajun? even Gypsy? with a big bag of herbal (and Voodoo?) remedies.

Google will get you a few sites with interesting interpretations but nothing in the way of solid evidence. That's what I'm after.

My question (and Azizi's) is -- who is the "Lady with the alligator purse"? And what is the significance of this symbol?

Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Apr 06 - 09:55 PM

Thanks for asking this question, Joybell.

One romantic historical novel that I read [yes, I sometimes read books like that] had as a central character a woman who was a herbalist. This was in either the 18th or 19th century American West. In one chapter of this book [whose title and author I've regretfully forgotten], the author writes about the woman grabbing specific herbs and placing them in her alligator bag, and then rushing to provide aid to a sick person.

So, if an alligator purse was a trademark for a herbalist, it makes sense that that children's rhymes lists the "lady with the alligator purse" after the doctor, and then the nurse came but [presumably] failed to help the poor baby who almost swallowed the bath tub.

But this is just an uneducated guess.

I'd love to know more about this if there is more about this to know.

:o))


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Naemanson
Date: 08 Apr 06 - 10:23 PM

Watching this thread with interest. Never heard of the lady or an aligator purse. What is the national derivation of the rhyme?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Apr 06 - 11:07 PM

Naemanson,

"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: http://www.mudcat.org/threads.cfm, 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.

-snip-

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}.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Briagha
Date: 09 Apr 06 - 01:28 AM

I definitely remember this from my (1950's WASP suburban Chicago) childhood as a jump-rope rhyme. And yes, the "in" and "out" portions were used to facilitate the new jumper entering as the previous jumper would exit. As I recall, the mother's name in our rhyme was "Sally."

briagha


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Bert
Date: 09 Apr 06 - 02:31 AM

...But this is just an uneducated guess...

Ah Azizi, I just love those, that's what folklore is all about.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Joybell
Date: 09 Apr 06 - 07:04 PM

Yes it is what it's about isn't it.
My husband (American born and raised) points out that this is very much like the bawdy song often called "Gang-bang Lulu" (sorry to lower the tone of this thread)
Gang-bang Lulu has a verse that goes:

Lulu had a baby his name was Tiny Tim
She flushed him down the toilet
To see if he could swim.

Oh! Gang-bang Lulu! bangin' around all day
Who we gonna bang on
When Lulu goes away?

The tune is the one used for many Hobo/bawdy songs and it fits "Miss Lucy had a Baby" very well too.

This takes us away from the aligater purse a bit. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 09 Apr 06 - 08:42 PM

Joybell and others,

There's no lady with an alligator purse in these examples that I'm going to re-post, but I think there are still relevant to this thread.

I believe that the rhyme your American husband remembers or a similar rhyme is probably the prototype for not only the children's rhyme "Miss Lucy Had A Baby", but also the large family of children's handclap rhymes known as "Miss Susie [or some other female name] Had A Steamboat" [or "Tugboat"].

I hope that it's alright for me to re-post this example of the
"Bang Away On Lulu" rhyme from the early days of Mudcat:

Subject: RE: Naughty kids'greatest hits
From: Downeast Bob - PM
Date: 01 Oct 97 - 05:19 PM

The way I knew it in the 50s, was:
Lulu had a steamboat; steamboat had a bell; Lulu went to heaven; steamboat went to

Bang away on Lulu, bang away all day. Who you gonna bang on when Lulu's gone away?

Lulu had a chicken; she also had a duck; She put them on the table to see if they would

Bang away on Lulu, bang away all day. Who you gonna bang on when Lulu's gone away?

Lulu spilled her orange juice, Lulu broke her glass; Then she slipped upon it and broke her little

Bang away on Lulu, bang away all day. Who you gonna bang on when Lulu's gone away?

Ask me no more questions; I'll tell you no more lies; Lulu got hit with a bucket of shit, right between the eyes!"

-snip-

Compare that with this example of the "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" rhyme:

MISS SUZIE HAD A STEAMBOAT
lol i member Miss Suzie when i use to play hand games. here mine and my friends version

Miss Suzie had a steamboat the streamboat had a bell. Miss Suzie went to heaven.The steamboat went to----Hello operater give me number nine,And if you disconnect me Ill cut off your behind the fridgerater there was a peice of glass. Miss Suzie sat upon it and broke her little--Ask me no more questions. Tell me no more lies. The boys are in the bathroom. Zipping up their flies Are in the meadow the bees are in the park. Miss Suzie and her boyfriend are kissing in the d-a-r-k d-a-r-k d-a-r-k DARK DARK DARK. I know i know my ma. i know i know my pa. I know i know my sister with a 40 acre bra. My mom gave me a nickle.My dad gave me a dime. My sister gave me her boyfriend. He kissed me all the time. My mom took back her nickle. My dad took back his dime. My sister took back her boyfriend and gave me Frankenstien. I kicked him over China, I kicked over France.I kicked to Hawaii where he learn the hula dance OI!
        
http://blog.oftheoctopuses.com/000518.php; posted by XxBloodyRosexX
at February 11, 2005 [used with permission from that blog's members]

-snip-

Both "Bang Away On Lulu" {or some such name} and "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat" are profanity avoidance rhymes, though the "bad" words {as some children refer to them}at the end of one line are suggested by the first word in the next line. The children's version of
"Miss Lucy Had A Baby" doesn't have that profanity avoidance feature. However, there are some risque versions of that rhyme as demonstrated by this example from another Mudcat thread:

Subject: RE: Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, I Bit the Teacher's Toe!
From: GUEST,Caro - PM
Date: 24 Mar 05 - 09:45 AM

This variation was sung by Alan Breeze (ye gods, how old am i?) on the Billy Cotton Band Show - Sunday lunchtimes.

Lulu had a baby - she called him Sonny Jim
She put him in the bathtub to teach him how to swim
He swam down to the bottom and then up to the top
Lulu got excited and grabbed him by his ...
Haircut, shampoo, ring the barbers bell
And if he doesn't like it
Just tell him, what the!
hey there! say there!
How's about a kiss?
Hey there! say there!
That's the end of this.

-snip-

Btw, I started a thread for "Ask Me No Questions" Rhymes, except I misspelled the word "no". That thread is thread.cfm?threadid=90284


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own threa
From: GUEST,Neighmond
Date: 10 Apr 06 - 02:03 AM

We used to say:

Ten little babies jumpiing on the bed-
Onne fell of and bumped his head
Momma called the Doctor,
The Doctor called the nurse,
The nurse called te lady with the aligator purse!

The babies cried to momma and momma said:
"That what you get for jumping on the bed!"
"Broke!" said the Doctor
"Sprained" said the nurse!
"A headache!" said the llady with the aligator purse!


We always thought the lady with the aligator purse was the social worker!

Chaz


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 10 Apr 06 - 07:17 AM

Hello Chaz!

Just for the record, I hope that you don't mind me adding comments that you made when you posted this rhyme in Feb. 2003 on Mudcat's Folklore: Skipping Rhymes & Playground Games thread.

"Each verse after the number counts down. After there are no little babies there is a new jumper. If you are jumping yourself you start over. If the jumper messed up they were out".

-snip-

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 10 Apr 06 - 07:35 AM

Also, Chaz,

in that same 2003 Mudcat thread, you posted a version of "Miss Lucy Had A Steamboat" that I've not seen anywhere else . Since you gave me permission to use your examples in the book I'm still working on*, I'm going to take the liberty to re-post that example on this thread and on the "Ask Me "Know" Questions" thread.

Thank you very much!

Subject: RE: Folklore: Skipping Rhymes & Playground Games
From: Neighmond - PM
Date: 03 Feb 03 - 01:57 AM

[excerpt of a post with multiple examples of rhymes]

...In this little chant, the girls sat facing each other and clapped hands on each others palms, and their shoulders and laps. They went on until someone goofed in the clapping order. I heard this one in an apartment complex, growing up in Spirit Lake, Iowa in the early '80's

Miss Lucy had a steam boat,
    The steam boat had a bell.
    Miss Lucy went to heaven,
    The steam boat went to
    Hell-o operator,
    Give me number nine,
    If I get disconnected,
    I'll kick you from-
    Behind the 'fridgerator
    There sat a piece of glass,
    Miss Lucy sat upon it
    And cut her big fat
    As-k me no more questions,
    Tell you me more lies,
    The boys are in the bathroom,
    Zipping up their flies-
    Are in the kitchen,
    The're buzzing everywhere
    I got a can of fly spray
    And sprayed it in the
    Airplane is in the air,
    The trucks are on the ground,
    And I get on the carosell
    Go 'round and round and
    'Round King Arthur's table
    There was a dozen knights.
    There was a lot of fighting
    At dinner every
    Night time in the city
    Night time in the park
    Miss Lucy's on the park bench
    Kissin' in the Dark!

-snip-

*I have revised the concept of the compilation that I am working on to examples of and commentary about English language children's playground rhymes that mention violence. I'm still open to and would greatly appreciate any examples and comments on this subject.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Apr 06 - 12:55 PM

Well, if you've ever tried to compose anything that rhymed, you've probably noticed that it's hard work. So here we have a bunch of kids trying to rhyme something with nurse. How many words rhyme with nurse? Not many.

purse
worse
disburse
disperse
curse
hearse
terse
verse

That's all I can think of. Now look at the list and see how many words can fit into a list of people (doctor - nurse - disburse? No.) Factor in the need for rhythm, and an alligator purse is just the ticket.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 10 Apr 06 - 05:02 PM

But why an alligator purse?

Why don't these rhymes have any other type of purse or description of purses?

I don't know ,leeneia. Your explanation sounds too reasonable.

Maybe that's why it doesn't feel right to me.

[and you can read into that all you want, and you'd probably be right on the money].


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Joybell
Date: 11 Apr 06 - 05:46 AM

I agree that often the solution is as simple as the use of a word that fits well. Aligator does sing so well.
Still there's the problem of who the Lady is anyway, regardless of the purse. It's obviously a sickness and cure story. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Apr 06 - 06:33 AM

I always thought she was there cos she fitted the rhyme & rythmn.
Don't think we said it as children, but she gives a picture of a neighbour.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's aligator purse? Her own thread
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Apr 06 - 12:24 PM

My wife, a native New Orleanian, grew up learning a variant of this song. Her version is closer to that posted above by GUEST:Neighmond. I can't recall the whole lyric right now, but it had to do with a kid jumping on the bed; after busting his/her head, mother had to:

Call for the doctor
Call for the nurse,
Call for the lady with the alligator purse.

We have been long been unnaturally interested in all kinds of Gator iconography (needless to say), but I never before knew or guessed that the lady with the alligator purse may have been some kind of healer/shaman/traiteur. What a revelation ~ I like it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Joybell
Date: 11 Apr 06 - 06:19 PM

Yes, PoppaGater, I do too.
My grandmother was a Healer-type lady - although she didn't carry an aligator purse. There was no symbol of her trade that I recall or see in any of her photos. (Of course she was Australian). She was often called after the doctor and the nurse had given up on someone.
I reckon that it's just as likely as not that a symbol that turns up in a song has some significance. It's finding the connections from outside the song that may help us.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: GUEST,girl
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 04:57 PM

I sang this growing up and I was looking for the words, but none of these fit exactly what I remember singing.
I think the closest went this way...

Miss lucy had a baby
his name was tiny tim
she put him in the bath tub
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 go down his throat

Miss lucy called the doctor
the doctor called the nurse
the nurse called the lady with the alligator purse

Mumps! said the doctor
Measles! said the nurse
Nothing! said the lady with the alligator purse

Shots! said the doctor
Medicine! said the nurse
Pizza! said the lady with the alligator purse

Miss lucy punched the doctor
Miss lucy kicked the nurse
Miss lucy payed the lady with the alligator purse.

(we didn't sing the in and "out" verses, but that was probably because we used it as a clapping game and not a jump rope game.

The voodoo/medicine woman seems most likely -- but I have no true idea.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 05:31 PM

Hello Guest girl!

The version you remember is very similar to this one:

ms. suzie had a baby, she named him tiny tim
she put him 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 bathrub
but it wouldn't go down his throat
ms. suzie called the doctor
ms. suzie called the nurse
ms. suzie called the lady-with the alligator purse
crazy said the doctor
stupid said the nurse
hungry said the lady-with the alligator purse
ms. suzie kicked the doctor
ms. suzie punched the nurse
ms. suzie paid the lady-withe the alligator purse

Source: postedd by butters at June 7, 2003 http://blog.oftheoctopuses.com/000518.php
[reposted with permission from that website's members]

****

It's a shame we don't have demographical information for most of these examples so that we could see if there were consistencies in the different versions across time and geographical areas.

In other words, if you're reading this Guestgirl, could you post where {city/state or province/nation if outside the USA} and when {what year or decade} you performed this rhyme?

It would be great if other people who post the examples they do now or that they remember could include that information, too.

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: M.Ted
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 06:06 PM

I may have mentioned this before, Azzizi, if not, in the neighborhood where I grew up, both girls and boys jumped rope, some times in mixed groups and some times in "girls only" or "boys only"
groups--this was in the middle fifties--I can't remember the whole thing, but here is the basic part--

Donna had a baby,
Named it Tiny Tim,
Put him in the bathtub
To see if he could swim
Drank up all the water
Ate up all the soap
Died last night
With a bubble in his throat.

Momma called the doctor,
Momma called the nurse,
Mama called the doctor
Mama called the nurse
Mama called the lady
With the Alligator Purse.

Too late for the doctor
Too late for the nurse
Too late for the lady
With the Aliigator Purse

One, two, three, four, etc.



My neighborhood was not one of the better ones, and we knew the lady with the alligator purse to be a social worker,because wherever misfortune visited, she followed --

The "bubble", it was later explained to me, was not from the soap, it was the membrane in the throat associated with diphtheria--

It strikes me that the business about eating the bathtub may have been one of those adult imposed "corrections" that hadn't filtered down to the kids on our block yet. They didn't catch tigers, either...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 06:24 PM

Hey, M. Ted!

I've never heard that one before. It's great! I've heard about "Miss Susie/Suzie/Lucy/Molly having a baby named Tiny Tim, Miss Donna's done come and joined the crowd. Well I tell ya, something must be up, all them babies just about chokin in the bathtub-I just bet that the social worker was called in to check out what is goin on in that neighborhood!

;o}

So, M. Ted, do I understand that you are saying that "The Lady With The Alligator Purse" rhyme or whatever it's called is associated with diptheria or some other childhood disease?

That's an interesting theory.

Or is this like the widespread but I understand erroneous belief that "Ring A'Round the Rosie" refers to the plague?

You wrote that "The "bubble", it was later explained to me, was not from the soap, it was the membrane in the throat associated with diphtheria"

Would you mind sharing who explained this to you..

Oh no! The "Your Mama" response from The Dozens popped into my head.
But I didn't mean it in a dozens/challenging way.

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: M.Ted
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 08:18 PM

Time and place are hazy--at various times while I was in school, I worked on projects involving various Departments of Health--you may remember back to the days of Model Cities and the War on Poverty--somewhere, in a discussion of community health issues, someone was talking about having to dignose illnesses from based on second or third person accounts, and giving examples, one of which was, you know it's diphtheria if someone mentions a bubble in the throat--at which time I recited the jump rope rhyme, and the person said, "Hey, that's about a child dying of diphtheria."

You don't have to go back to my source, though--look up Diphtheria--it was a serious health problem up through the 1940's--up to 150,000 cases a year(in a much,much, smaller America)--with a high risk of fatality, particularly for small children.

I don't know how or where the rhyme originated--I am familiar with a lot of the other related rhymes as well(the "naughty ones", I particularly recall, for some reason;-), but my version is as I learned it--it seems unlikely to me that the line "died last night with a bubble in his throat" could refer to anything other than diphtheria, though it certainly could have been interpolated into another rhyme--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 08:46 PM

Very interesting, M. Ted...

I confess that I haven't thought very much about the meaning of this rhyme. But I probably brushed this rhyme off as a made up story about a baby playing in the bathtub and the "died last night with a bubble in his throat" was an exaggeration because he ate some soap and it made soap bubbles.

But your explanation makes alot of sense.

Have the Opies or anyone else ever formally presented this explanation of Miss Susie/Lucy/Molly/Donna etc Had A Baby" rhymes
in any scholarly/researchy type folklore or children's rhyme journals, if there are such journals?

M.Ted, what are you waiting for? Go to it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: M.Ted
Date: 21 Apr 06 - 08:58 PM

To do it right, I'd really need to go back and find some of the of the kids I grew up with--easier said than done, though, most of the guys are dead, and most of the girls left school by the junior year--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Joybell
Date: 22 Apr 06 - 07:24 PM

There are collections of children's rhymes. A good book here in Australia is "Cinderella Dressed in Yella" but it's a collection from the 20th Century.
We need some input from English folklorists on this one. Earlier versions - if they exist would be good. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 01:54 PM

Kids Dont jump rope to this song im in the fourth grade and we just sing it we dont do any movements to the song






Miss Suzie had a steam boat
The Steamboat had a bell
Mrs.Suzie went to heaven
The steamboat went to
Hello Operator
Give me number 9
if you disconnect me
I'll kick you from
Behind the refrigerator
there was a piece of glass
Miss Suzie sat upon it
And broke her little
Ask me no more questions
ill tell you no more lies
The boys are in the bathroom
Zipping down their
Flies are in the meadow
Bees are in the grass
The boys and girls
Are kissing in the
D-A-R-K D-A-R-K
Darker than the ocean
Darker than the sea
Darker than the black boy
That's chasing after me
Dark is like a movie
A movie is like a show
A show is like a T.V. set
And that is all I...
Know my dad is a robber
I know my mom is a spy
I know that I'm the little brat that
Told the F.B.I.
My mom gave me a nickel
My dad gave me a dime
My sis' gave me a girlfriend
And I know she's is witch
she made me wash the dishes
she made me wash the floor
she made me wash her underwear
So I kicked her out the door
I kicked her over London
I kicked her over France
I kicked her to Hawaii
Where she did the Hoola Dance!




Miss Suzie had a baby
She named it Tiny Tim
She put it in the bathtub
To see if it could swim
It drank up all the water
It ate up all the soap
It tried to eat the bathtub
But it wouldn't go down its throat
Miss Suzie called the doctor
Miss Suzie called the nurse
Miss Suzie called the lady
With the alligator purse
Measles said the doctor
Mumps said the nurse
Nothing said the lady
With the alligator purse
Miss Suzie kicked the doctor
Miss Suzie punched the nurse
Miss Suzie paid the lady
With the alligator purse.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 03:18 PM

Ewan MacColl used to report having heard Glasgow children sing a more up-to-date version in the 1940s-50s which ended "Penicillin said the doctor, Penicillin said the nurse, Penicillin said the lady with the alligator purse."

So it had spread, but is clearly an American children's song, as the UK equivalent of 'alligator purse' would be 'crocodile handbag' ~~ a purse means something else here, a small receptacle for coins which a woman would carry within her handbag [which, I repeat = US 'Purse'].

This I understood from my Chicago-based nephew & niece when their mother, my wife's sister who had settled in Chicago & married, first brought them over here in the early 1970s when they were both under 10, is a widespread children's song over there which 'everybody knows'. But their version IIRC had the 3rd & 4th line, after Tiny·Tim had been put into the bathtub to see if he could swim, "He sank down to the bottom, he came up to the top"; but I regret that I can't recall the rhyme to 'top' or what followed. Anyone know that variant?


~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 27 Feb 11 - 04:38 PM

What about the alligator purse being an attribute of wealth: expensive, fashionable, and presumably well-filled with cash? The child would be malnourished rather than ill, so that the philantropic rich lady is the only one who can help. "Pizza" has probably been patched in later, but may nevertheless convey the original meaning. Now you may ask why in some versions she is being paid instead of paying - that must be corruption (not of social welfare workers, but of folk verses).

Just a completely uneducated theory.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: GUEST,Nancy Silverrod
Date: 31 Oct 11 - 12:30 PM

I have been trying to verify a claim that the lady with the alligator purse was suffragist Susan B. Anthony who supposedly carried her speeches with her in an alligator purse. The claim is that this dates back to the California woman suffrage campaign of 1896, and that the last line is "Vote! said the lady with the alligator purse."

I have found this ending among the many variations, but, so far, nothing to link it to Susan B. Anthony.

The rhyme is also sometimes conflated with another popular rhyme:

Mother, mother, I feel sick
send for the doctor quick, quick, quick.

or

Mother, mother, I feel ill
send for the doctor from over the hill

The lady with the alligator purse often shows up in these variants.

I have also found a number of bawdy variants, focusing on the fact that "Miss" Lucy is unmarried. Some of them would seem to stem from the 1920s during prohibition given some of the references to alcohol.

If anyone knows of a connection to Susan B. Anthony that comes from a source OTHER THAN the Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, NY, please email me: nsilverrod@sfpl.org.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 10:56 AM

I know this is an old thread, but since there's been continuing interest in it, I thought I'd add one piece of information which a search indicates hasn't been included before.

The rhyme occurs at a significant place in Alfred Hitchcock's film Marnie, where a group of girls skipping rope chants it in the following form:


"Mother, Mother, I am ill.
Send for the doctor over the hill.
Call for the doctor.
Call for the nurse.
Call for the lady
with the alligator purse.
Mumps said the doctor.
Measles said the nurse.
Nothing said the lady
with the alligator purse."

The lady, I think, is death.

Someone who's also seen the film has told me that she knew this rhyme in a closely similar form when growing in the 1950s in the American Midwest.

Jon Corelis
Songs by William Blake


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 01:21 PM

Jon Corelis, your post motivated me to search online again for any theories about the meaning of the line "the lady with the alligator purse".

I found the following post that confirms (or at least strongly supports) what Guest Nancy Silverrod wrote on Oct 31, 2011 about that line's connection to Susan B. Anthony.

I'm reposting this comment from http://susanbanthonyhouse.org/blog/something-new-from-the-past/alligator-purse-rhyme/ for the folkloric record.

Alligator Purse Rhyme

Posted on February 22, 2011 by DHughes

"The traveling champion of the women's rights movement, Susan B. Anthony, was recognized by two trademarks: her red shawl and her alligator "purse." You can see the famous alligator bag she carried across the United States and to Europe when you visit the Susan B. Anthony House at 17 Madison Street in Rochester, NY. You may recognize this children's jump-rope rhyme that was recorded by the press when Anthony was campaigning for suffrage in California:


Miss Lulu had a baby, she called him tiny Tim.
She put him in the bathtub, so see if he could swim.
He drank up all the water! He ate up all the soap!
He tried to swallow the bathtub, but it wouldn't go down his throat!!
Call for the doctor!
Call for the nurse!
Call for the lady with the alligator purse!
"Mumps!" said the doctor. "Measles!" said the nurse.
"Vote!!" said the lady with the alligator purse!!

Anthony used her alligator bag more like a briefcase or backpack than like a purse. In it, she carried her speeches and pamphlets, a copy of the transcript from her 1873 trial in which she was found guilty for having voted "illegally" in the 1872 federal election. What would be the most important item for you to carry in your alligator bag?"

-snip-

There are no comments on that thread except the one I just wrote.

**
There's an ad on the Susan B. Anthony House website selling the "Ms Anthony" alligator bag (purse).

That link also leads to this video about Susan B Anthony & her alligator purse:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAQlKjkFjH4 Ms Anthony, a Purse with a Purpose

There are no comments on that YouTube video viewer comment thread except for the one I just wrote referring people to additional examples & comments about that rhyme on a page on my Cocojams website http://cocojams.com/content/handclap-jump-rope-and-elastics-rhymes-2 Cocojams Handclap, Jump Rope, And Elastic Rhymes 2, as well as to this thread.

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 01:32 PM

Oh I see that Guest Nancy Silverrod wanted confirmation of that theory OTHER THAN the Susan B. Anthony House. I guess we're still waiting for that.

However, in the meantime, I retract my earlier theory about the alligator purse being carried by a herbalist (though I still admit that it makes sense since in many versions the representatives of the established medical profession fail & are consequently treated harshly by the narrator while (in those versions) the lady with the alligator purse succeeds in healing the baby and is treated better because of that success).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 07:08 PM

I haven't read every one of the postings about the lady with the alligator purse on this site, but from what I've seen, the Susan B. Anthony theory of origin can't be accepted as anything but speculation. All I've been able to find on the internet is an unsupported statement that there was a "children's jump-rope rhyme that was recorded by the press when Anthony was campaigning for suffrage in California" which ended "Mumps! said the doctor. Measles! said the nurse. Vote!! said the lady with the alligator purse!!"

This statement isn't evidence of anything without a verifiable citation either of the name and date of the newspaper, or of a book or article by an academic historian verifying the quote. And even if the quote exists, it could have been a version of the rhyme just made up by a columnist or feature writer for political or comic effect. Maybe it wasn't, but the point is that there is no way of settling these speculations without more information.

But there's also the larger issue of what it means to say the image "came from somewhere." Even if we could establish that originally the image somehow worked its way into the rhyme from Susan B. Anthony, would that tell us what the rhyme "really" means? I mentioned a woman who knew it as a child in the 1970s: I doubt very much whether she or her fellow seven year olds knew anything about Susan B. Anthony, but that doesn't, I think, mean that the image had become meaningless by their time. For me, what the image "really" means is its symbolism in its living tradition, not whatever originally gave rise to it.

Jon Corelis
World's Only Pagan Country Blues


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 07:52 PM

It's a principle of mine that a proper personal library ought to be large enough to include books one has forgotten that one owns, so I am not at all put out by remembering now that I have on my shelf The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren by Iona & Peter Opie (NYR Press 2001, reprint of the OUP ed. of 1960). As many people following this discussion will know, the Opies are leading authorities on the subject.

The Opies discuss the Mother, mother rhyme on pp. 34f with note, giving a British version that begins:

Mother, mother, I feel sick,
send for the doctor, quick, quick, quick,
Doctor, doctor, shall I die?
Yes, my dear, and so shall I ...

They give a newer version collected by A. L. Lloyd in "Lilliput" (a book or journal?) which is very similar to the one I quoted from Marnie, and which mentions the lady with the alligator purse. The Opies note that this lady is "a recurrent figure in American child rhymes;" unfortunately they don't give any examples, but they refer to the book Jump Rope Rhymes (1955) by Patricia Evans, and imply that there are examples there. The Opies anticipate me in seeing this cluster of rhymes as being basically about death. I'm not sure if the wider appearance of the lady in child rhymes in America is evidence for or against the SBA connection, but if the version Lloyd cites is British (something that isn't clear from the Opies' discussion,) that would argue against it.

Jon Corelis
Story: Parable


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: GUEST,azizi
Date: 13 Mar 12 - 08:38 PM

Jon Corelis,

I noticed that there was no attribution for that information from the Susan B. Anthony House website about the origin of the "lady with the alligator purse" version of "Miss Lucy Had A Baby".

It might have been a coincidence that Susan B. Anthony's purse was made of alligator skin and there was a pre-existing line in a playground rhyme about "a lady with the alligator purse". And some enterprising, creative reporter could have made up the "vote said the lady with the alligator purse" version. Indeed, I think it's likely that that is what happened.

And Jon, my focus is probably different than yours. I accept the fact that this rhyme is about death or at least about illness that could have led to a person dying. Read M.Ted Date: 21 Apr 06 - 08:18 PM comment about diptheria (bubble in one's throat).

However, I don't think that the lady with the alligator purse represents death because, in most versions I've read, she succeeds in curing the baby when the doctor, and the nurse fail.

I'm specifically interested in finding an early citation for the inclusion of the alligator purse in these playground rhymes.

And I'm not convinced that the rhyme that you cited is the source for the "Miss Lucy Had A Baby" family of rhymes. I think this (and the core verses for the very widely known "Miss Susie Had A Steamboat") came from the "Bang Bang Lulu" song. Since I believe "Bang Bang Lulu" is of American (USA) origin, I also believe that "Miss Lucy Had A Baby" is of American origin. And I think that the "lady with the alligator purse is a later addition to that rhyme.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 09:20 AM

Greetings.

I'm commenting to inform those reading this thread that I just became aware that this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_Lucy_had_a_baby about the rhyme "Miss Lucy Had A Baby" cites this Mudcat thread.

I strongly disagree with most of what that author wrote, for instance this beginning statement: "Miss Lucy" (similar to Miss Suzy), is the name of an American schoolyard rhyme and clapping game in which emancipated African American culture is mocked."

As a much less serious disagreement, it appears to me that in that article that along with a few other comments [that I consider to be lacking in authenticity] that Wikipedia author considers the recollections that Chaz and M Ted made in their comments [that they thought that the "lady with the alligator purse" in those rhymes was a social worker] to be an across the board fact [i.e. that the alligator purse was a standard accessory for social workers in the United States]. Also, given that author's other statements, it appears to me that that author an/or her readers might think that Chaz and M Ted and other Mudcat members who commented on this thread are African American. That author would be correct about that assumption only with regards to me.

I just published this post on my cultural blog: http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/10/wikepedias-article-about-miss-lucy-had.html

As part of that post I included the following comment which I post here in its entirity for full disclosure:

"Citation #7 is given as a "discussion on the folklore of the Miss Lucy rhyme". That link leads to http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=90418 "Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread"

I'm very much familiar with that discussion as I posted the majority of the comments on that particular discussion thread. Furthermore, as a once very active member of that discussion forum, I'm aware of the race of the other members who posted comments on that thread. I know that they all are White [I'm African American]. This is pertinent because, given her conclusions in this article, I gather that the author of the Wikipedia page erroneously assumed that both of the commenters were African American who mentioned social workers in regards to that "Miss Lucy Had A Steamboat" rhyme. And, as it turns out both of the commenters were men.

GUEST,Neighmond [Chaz]* Date: 10 Apr 06 - 02:03 AM wrote "We always thought the lady with the aligator purse was the social worker!"
*Chaz was writing as a Guest because he hadn't logged in, but he was [and maybe still is] a member of that forum.

M Ted wrote on 21 Apr 06 - 06:06 PM "My neighborhood was not one of the better ones, and we knew the lady with the alligator purse to be a social worker,because wherever misfortune visited, she followed".

In that discussion thread I presented my theory that the lady with the alligator purse was a herbalist or some other non-traditional health care provider. In Part II of this series read more about this theory as well as my comments challenging both Chaz's and M. Ted's implications about how social workers are considered and interacted with when they arrive as investigators at homes in Black communities or any other communities.

Click http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=90418 for another Mudcat post that partly focuses on examples of "Miss Lucy Had A Baby". I also participated in that discussion.
**
I'm including the following information about Mudcat Cafe although some may consider this to be off topic . However, I believe this information is pertinent in general terms and because it appears to me that the Wikipedia author of the article about "Miss Lucy Had A Baby" assumed that Black people were the one who mentioned that as children they thought that the lady with the alligator purse was a social worker. So for the public record and because I believe that it is important to document & share as much demographical information as possible including race for folkloric products [which also describes online blog posts and discussions], let me take this time to indicate the following:

Although Mudcat Cafe was & is a Folk & Blues forum, most of the music discussions have been and continue to be about folk music from White Europeans [This isn't redundent.] and White Americans. And while Mudcat excels in discussions about Old Time Music and early Blues, it's participants rarely discuss other forms of Blues and other folk music originating from & largely performed by People of Color. Also, while there were discussion threads on playground rhymes prior to my participation at Mudcat, the record shows that I spearheaded those discussions during the five years that I was an active member of that forum.

When I was active with that forum most Mudcat members were males & females fifty years & older who came from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia in that order. Some other Mudcaters came from Germany, New Zealand, and a few other European nations.

During the years that I was active with Mudcat Cafe -from August 2004 to November 2009- there was only three other publicly acknowledged People of Color who were members of that forum - a Japanese man, a woman who was a Koori [an indigenous person] from a particular region of Australia, and a Black man from Ghana who I recruited to that forum & who unfortunately was only active there for a very short time. None of those persons commented on either one of the Mudcat discussion threads that I linked to in this post.

I'm sure that a small percentage of people who have posted and posts as non-members ["Guests"] on that forum were/are People of Color, although few Guests gave that demographical information.

Lastly, it appears to me since 2009 to date my description of the membership & Guest demographics for that forum remains the same.

NOTE FOR THE RECORD: I've posted a link to this pancocojams post and these comments about that forum in the Mudcat thread to which the Wikipedia author hyperlinked."

-Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 09:25 AM

I corrected that sentence to read that "I posted more comments on that discussion thread than any other participant."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Lady's alligator purse? Her own thread
From: Azizi
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 09:36 AM

I also corrected this sentence "As it turns out both of those commenters were White men."

Also, since I'm posting this comment, let me also mention that pancocojams post about the "Miss Lucy Had A Baby" rhyme is the first of a three part series on that rhyme and is also part of a continuing series about songs & rhymes that have their source in the "Lula Gal" Old Time Music songs.

Here's a link to a pancocojams post that showcases what I consider to be a great rendition of the song "Shout Lula".http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/10/reeltime-travelers-shout-lula-example.html "Reeltime Travelers - Shout Lula".

As part of my general practice, in that post I hyperlinked a Mudcat thread on that song, and gave credit to the Mudcat member -Stewiee-who I quoted from that thread.

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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