Remember the rhyming chants that accompanied popular schoolyard games? You know, those little ditties kids would sing during clapping games and sessions of jump rope. I'm sure little boys were acquainted with them as well but in my day, these rhymes were fiercely monopolized by girls, especially at recess.
I don't recall them word for word or even accurately (whilst others heard actual words, I perceived and often memorized gibberish). Instead only snippets of the lyrics linger about in my head. The melodies haven't escaped me though. They're a bit like solemn chants when viewed through an age-worn memory. Here are the bits and pieces that won't leave:
Stella Ella Ola
What little girl did not play this game? Stella Ella Ola is as popular on campgrounds as it is in the schoolyard, with many variations being handed down to friends and little sisters, decades over. The version below sounds a lot like the one we used to sing:
Stella ella ola, clap clap clap
Singin' es, chicko, chicko, chicko chicko chak
Singin' es, chicko, chicko, vallo, vallo
One, two, three, four, FIVE...
(I don't remember the word "Fire" being in it and I used to replace "clap" with "quack"...for reasons unknown to me).
I loved playing Hello Operator (even though I can't remember any of the clapping sequences). It was fun and a bit cheeky. Was it always "Miss Susie" though?
Miss Susie had a steamboat
the steamboat had a bell
Miss Susie went to heaven
the steamboat went to
Hello operator please give me number nine
and if you disconnect me
I'll kick you from behind…
Say, Say Oh Playmate
I actually thought it was "Si Si My Playmate". Goodness, did I never pay attention? I also remember a raunchier version of this one that we'd sing in elementary school. Good fun!
Say, Say my playmate
Come out and play with me
and bring your dollies 3
climb up my apple tree
slide down my rain barrel
into my cellar door
and we'll be jolly friends
forever more - more - more !
Blue Bells, Cockle Shells
If I recall correctly, this was a jump-rope warm up song for those who had difficulty "jumping in". The rope is gently swung side to side on the ground while participants jump over. The rope is turned over on the word "over". At first I thought it was "caca shells" instead of "cockle shells". I don't remember any other lyrics to this tune:
Blue bells, cockle shells, easy, ivy, over
Who didn't love this ditty (or weapon of great humiliation)?:
(name) and (name) sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G first comes love and then comes marriage then comes a baby in a baby's carriage!It was sweet satisfaction to pair up a mate with a fella. Most of us didn't want our names publicly hooked up with a boy but secretly we did, of course.
Pat-a-cake was another tune I butchered. For many years, I sincerely thought it was "Pan-a-cake". Perhaps a bit of therapy would have helped me out back then, eh?
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Pat it and roll it and mark it with "B"
And put it in the oven for Baby and me.
Miss Mary Mack
You can't talk about schoolyard games without mentioning Miss Mary:
Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack,
All dressed in black, black, black,
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons,
All down her back, back, back
I couldn't remember the rest of the lyrics (or the clapping sequences), but it was definitely a favorite.
It's literally been decades since I played these games or belted out one of these tunes, yet there they are, ever present in my mind and not willing to leave. Thank goodness, I'm not ready to leave them either.