Saturday, January 4, 2014

Examples Of "Shave And A HairCut" Children's Rhymes

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series on the tune that is commonly known in the United States as "Shave and a hair cut. Two Bits". Part II provides examples of "clean" children's rhymes that contain the line "shave and a hair cut". That post will be published ASAP.

Click for Part I of this post.
Part I provides information about the source of the tune which is commonly known in the United States by the words "Shave and a hair cut. Two bits." This post also provides an explanation of the meaning of "two bits" (or "six bits", another common ending in the United States or "two bobs", a common ending in the United Kingdom.) A few sound files and video examples the "Shave and a hair cut. Two bits" tune also are included in post.

Posting these examples on this blog that showcases Black music, dance, and other cultural indices is not meant to imply that these examples only came from Black people. No racial demographics were given for any of the contributors whose online examples are featured in this post. It's likely that all or most of these contributors are White. However, African American and other Black children have chanted "shave and a hair cut" rhymes. Furthermore, as found in articles featured in Part I of this series, the rhythmic pattern for the call and response Afro-Cuban calve rhythm that is known in the United States as "Shave and a hair cut. Two Bits" originated in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, and recreational purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

(Examples from specific websites are posted together in the order that they are found on that website. These examples are numbered in consecutive order. The numbers that are assigned to these examples in this post differ from any numbers that might have been assigned on their source websites.)

Example #1:
We used to sing –

Shave and a haircut, two bits,
Who got married? Tom Mix,
Who did he marry? Ann O’Shea,
How is the baby? OK!
-Marcia on June 4, 2007; "Amidst a tangled web: shave and a haircut, two bits" Hereafter given as Hersam: Shave And A Haircut
Note: Either this Marcia or another contributor named Marcia posted this same version on August 28, 2011 and indicated that it was from "the [19]50s".

Here's some information about Tom Mix from
"Thomas Edwin "Tom" Mix (born Thomas Hezikiah Mix;[1] January 6, 1880 – October 12, 1940) was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. Between 1909 and 1935, Mix appeared in 291 films,[2] all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's first Western megastar and is noted as having helped define the genre for all cowboy actors who followed."
I'm not sure who Ann O' Shea is/was. Perhaps it was made up. But it's curious that that name shows up in a number of these examples. Perhaps it's because "O'Shea" rhymes with "Okay", but still...

Example #2:
This is what I remember my dad singing:

Shave and a haircut, two bits
Who was the barber, Tom Mix
What did you sit in, a chair
What did he cut off, your hair

We grew up in British Columbia, Canada
-denise on January 30, 2008, Hersam: Shave And A Haircut

Example #3:
shave and a haircut,bay rum
Don’t chew tobacco ,chew gum
Clothes on a washline dry up
You said a mouthful ,shut up !
-Stuart K. on April 22, 2009, Hersam: Shave And A Haircut

Example #4: In the very early thirties we used to sing it as:

“Shave and a haircut, two bits
Who got married, Tom Mix
Who/Whom did he marry, Pearl White
How did he like her, all right”

Whoever sings it as “six bits” must have heard it 20 years later when inflation set in. Saw on another discussion “who did he marry, Alice White” but that doesn’t fit as smoothly as Pearl White and since Pearl White was a kind of contemporary of Tom Mix, it made more sense to connect him to Pearl White than the made up person Alice White, neither one of which he really married)."
-Ray W on April 11, 2011, Hersam: Shave And A Haircut
The contributor is correct that Pearl White was "kind of contemporary of Tom Mix". Here's information from her Wikipedia page
However, "Alice White" is the name of a film star who also was a contemporary of Tom Mix.
"Alice White (August 24, 1904, Paterson, New Jersey – February 19, 1983, Los Angeles, California) was an American film actress."
"Pearl Fay White (March 4, 1889 – August 4, 1938) was an American film actress. White began her career on the stage at the age of six. She later moved on to silent film appearing in a number of popular serials.

Dubbed the "Queen of the serials", White was noted for doing the majority of her own stunts in several film serials, most notably in The Perils of Pauline."

Example #5:
Shave and a hair cut – two bits
Who was the barber – Tom Mix
Who did he marry – Pearl White
How did he like her – alright
-Valerie on August 21, 2011, Hersam: Shave And A Haircut

Example #6:
From the midwest…

Shave and a hair cut – two bits
Who did he marry?
His horse
What did it end up?

-Anne on February 22, 2010, Hersam: Shave And A Haircut
*[My asterisk] This contributor and some others commented about the custom of the car horn honking "shave and hair cut" while driving through a tunnel.

Example #7:
They way I heard it growing up in the 50′s, was:

Shave and a haircut, two bits
Who you gonna marry, Tom Mix
If he falls and breaks his bones,
Who you gonna marry, Buck Jones.

The girls used to sing that song while jumping rope. Since I had three sisters, I heard it a lot
-Pete on November 6, 2012, Hersam: Shave And A Haircut
*[My asterisk]. Read my comment for Example #6.
Here's information on Buck Jones from
"Buck Jones (December 12, 1891[1] – November 30, 1942) was an American motion picture star of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, known for his work starring in many popular western movies. In his early film appearances, he was billed as Charles Jones."

Example #8:
"I hesitate to record the following, but I will anyway. Here is a song I learned in YMCA day camp – 1947 (what was a good Jewish boy like me doing in a Christian day camp? – it’s a long story):

Well, I walked into a bakery shop to get something to eat
Because I was so hungry from my head to my feet
So I picks up a doughnut and I wipes off the grease [doughnuts invented ~1800]
And I hands the waitress a five cent piece. [~ price in about 1930]
Well, she looks at the nickel and she looks at me
And she says hey mister can’t you plainly see
There’s a hole in the nickel
There’s a hole right through
Says I, there’s a hole in the doughnut too,
Shave and a haircut, two bits
You said a mouthful – Shut up!

This children’s rhyme was obviously not the source of the ‘beat’ or its accompanying expression, which is just tacked onto the end, but it seems not unlikely to me that some earlier one was. Maybe it started as the 'barber’s song' or 'barber’s rhyme,' which was usually accompanied by a participants tapping or ‘knocking’ out the beat’ – VOILA!"
-Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.) Mon Jun 28, 2004, "knocking pattern (shave/haircut/two bits)" Hereafter given as Wordwizard:(shave/haircut/two bits)

Example #9:
"there is actually a rhyme that goes with "a shave and a haircut." it is as follows:

A Shave and a Haircut, two bits
Who is the barber, Tom Micks
Who did he marry, Snow White
How are you feeling, alright

This rhyme really makes no sense to me but my grandmother taught it to me shortly before she passed away so I never forgot it. It's a cute rhyme and sounds good if you say it right. We used to say it when there was nothing else to say and the room was quiet. If you know the meaning of it, then more power to you…"
-Shawnee radera, Mon Jun 28, 2004, Wordwizard:(shave/haircut/two bits)

Example #10:
I was told once that this was an advertising jingle.

"Shave and a haircut, six bits.
Don't chew tobacco, chew Britt's.'

Don't know if the song came first and was adopted for the jingle, or if the jingle came first."

Britt's was a chewing gum, older even than Black Jack (anybody else remember this?)
-rs0522, 09-16-2000,

"While reading this it occurred to me that this was a rhyme people used to say when i was younger.
I grew up in the nineties for reference :D

“Somebody farted, pee-you!
Who did it come from? From you!
When did it happen? Last night!
How did it feel? Just right!”

Very childish I know, but a play on the same rhyme nonetheless."
-Youngin on July 2, 2011, Hersam: Shave And A Haircut

Skunk in the barnyard, P.U.
somebody ate it, that's you!

(note: sung to the tune of Shave and a Haircut.)…"

A post on children's rhymes that include the line "What did you feed him/neckbones (or
a similar word) will be posted ASAP. Most of those rhymes begin with the line "My mommy sent me to the store", and some of those rhymes include the "Shave and a hair cut. Two bits" line.

This concludes Part II of this pancocojams post.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Special thanks to Dan Hersham "Amidst a tangled web: shave and a haircut, two bits".

Thank you for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome

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