On this ‘Free Week” we were reminded of re-reading books by our Tuesday Fox, Joselyn. It lead me to think of how many times I re-read nursery rhymes, or insisted that they be read and re-read to me.
I have since learned that many of the old English rhymes have hidden political meanings, which were not-so-hidden when they were recited amid the folks of the time, by adults, not children.
I would prefer not to delve into those, but to keep the fun and innocence that I had when I became acquainted with them.
My mother was a product of off-the-boat Italians but her knowledge of English was impeccable; no one would ever have believed that she or her siblings did not have English as their first language, (except for one. One of her half-brothers who was born in the Italy was a scamp who kept his accent, which I firmly believe was to charm the ladies.) Indeed, my mother and all five of her sisters became executive secretaries, with positions that were second only to their bosses. Today, they probably would have had the men’s jobs.
But I digress. Mom was raised listening to Italian stories. And so, she learned standard nursery rhymes with us…mostly me. I was the one who wanted to be constantly read to.
She had bought a set of children’s stories for my brother and sister,(I was a surprise), but I got the most wear out of them. When my sister got to middle school, real encyclopedias joined the family. I was upset when, looking at the samples, she didn’t pick the one with the best pictures that also had nursery rhymes!
I liked “Little Boy Blue”. I liked “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”. “Ding-Dong Dell” made me sad, as did “Old Mother Hubbard”, and those “Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens”. “Jack and Jill” worried me, as did “The Old Woman in the Shoe”. “Hey Diddle Diddle” was always fun, “Old King Cole” was as well, and so was “Jack Horner” and also the “Jack”, (who was told to “Be Nimble”).
I was quite taken with “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” when little. When I was about 13, we got a kitten that looked just like a product of the union.
I remember even getting my sister to read “Wynken and Blynken and Nod” to me.
Interestingly, I read it to her kids and mine so much that I had it memorized…and it was waiting , tucked away in a corner of my brain for me to recite to my grandkids.
My mother particularly liked to sing and recite, “Sing a Song of Sixpence”. However, she changed the last line to have the blackbird sitting on the nose of the maid who was hanging out the clothes, as opposed to snapping it off.
At one point we had a very young cousin staying with us. When my sister and I were reciting rhymes to her, she asked for us to do “Bobby Shaftoe”; and she was pretty insistent. We had no idea how it went. It took many years before we found it, and ever since then, whenever some kid wanted an unknown story, song or rhyme, we referred to it as a “Bobby Shaftoe Situation”.
When I was in second grade, I was in a play which was a mash-up of nursery rhymes and kiddie songs. I was “Little Bo Peep” and I lost my sheep, but it was only one and he was “Baa-Baa Black Sheep”. We found that he wasn’t lost, “Johnny”, (“Who Was So Long at the Fair”), had him; Mother Goose reunited us.
(I’m dashing this off as many of you know, we had a medical emergency in my family. I have been tied-up for days and nights, but I wanted to post, especially since Joselyn jostled my memories!)
Are there any nursery rhymes that you particularly like? Any that you really don’t like?