Edited by Azizi Powell
This post presents some examples of English language playground rhymes that include the name of one or more politicians.
The online sources for these playground rhymes are given after the examples. Information about those politicians who may not be familiar to contemporary Americans is presented after the first rhyme that includes that name.
Although no performance activity is specified for most of these rhymes, I believe that most of these examples are either hand clap rhymes or jump rope rhymes.
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, cultural, and entertainment purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
This post isn't meant to be a comprehensive collection of English language playground rhymes that include names of politicians. In most cases, I'm only showcases one version of these rhymes. However, there are often multiple versions of each featured rhyme. many of these rhymesMany of these rhymes have multiple versions.
Thanks to all those whose examples are quoted in this post.
In order of appearance in these examples*, the politicians' names that are featured in this post are Benjamin Franklin, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Abraham Lincoln, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christie Todd Whitman, George Washington, Adolph Hitler, Hermann Goering Heinrich Himmler, David Blunkett, John F, Kennedy, Saddam Hussein, John Howard, "Alf" Landon, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Thabo Mbeki, Muammar Gaddafi, Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Benito Mussolini, Winston Churchill, Adlai Stevenson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Albert Dean Rosellini.
*Hitler and Mussolini are included in more than one rhyme. These rhymes may also include the names of other famous peoples who aren't politicians (for instance, in the rhyme entitled "Bill & Monica").
Do you know any rhymes or versions of rhymes that aren't included in this post? Please add them in the comment section below.
Note: These examples are presented in alphabetical order based on the rhymes' titles (usually the first few words of there first line.) The titles are written in capital letters.
The politicians' name that is included in each example is given in italics.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN WENT TO FRANCE
Benjamin Franklin went to France
To teach the ladies how to dance.
First the heel, and then the toe,
Spin around and out you go.
BILL AND MONICA
Bill & Monica sittin
in a tree
First comes Ken Starr
Then comes Hillary
There goes the Presidency!
-Butirfli, http://www.streetplay.com/discus/ Streetplay.com Discussion: Girl Games: Singing: Silly songs, theme songs, etc.: Archive through November 27, 2000, May 26, 1999
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG
Chiti chiti bang bang I know karate
Chiti chiti bang bang
oops im sorry!
chiti chiti bang bang
I want my mommy!
chiti chiti bang bang
I gotta go potty!
chiti chiti bang bang...
abraham lincoln sittin on a fence
try to make a dollar outta twenty five cents
twist twist! Twist like this!
-missingAcastle, http://www.dance.net/topic/5144224/2/Humor/HAND-GAMES-yaaaaaaaay.html&replies=28 "re: HAND GAMES!!! yaaaa!",On Sat Sep 16, 2006
DOWN BY THE BANK A HANKY PANKY
Here is one I knew from New Jersey:
Down by the bank
a hanky panky
where the bullfrogs jump from bank to bank
sayin' eep opp eep opp opp
a skittle and a dittle and a kernel pop
I pledge allegiance to the flag
michael jackson makes me gag
arnold schwarz' has no brain
christie whitman went insane
-north_ernlights, http://linguaphiles.livejournal.com/4327510.html, February 19 2009,
Arnold schwarz' [Arnold Schwarzenegger] actor and politician "served two terms as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011." [Wikipedia]
Christie whitman - "Christine "Christie" Todd Whitman (born September 26, 1946) is an American Republican politician and author who served as the 50th Governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001..." [Wikipedia]
never told a lie.
'till he ran around the corner
(Drag out while singing. The jumper runs out and run around a turner then jumps back in and the song continues)
stole a cherry pie.
How many cherries were in that pie?
18.104.22.168....(count until the jumper messes up)
Contributed by Solana Reed, http://www.gameskidsplay.net/jump_rope_ryhmes/jump_george_washington.htm
Being the man from Norway I guess I'm obliged to contribute to this thread... As no one has contributed the version I remember, I give you the following in the interests of the record being absolutely complete:
Hitler had only one left ball
Goering had two but very small
Himmler had something similar
And poor ol' Goebbels, had no balls at all
- bassen, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=2998 "Naughty kids' greatest hits II", 2/20/1999
Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler were German Nazi leaders who assisted Adolph Hitler.
HOMEWORK AT MORNING
..."children have their own views on education, as this skipping rhyme demonstrates:-
Homework at morning
Homework at night.
All this homework
Can't be right.
Try this homework
On David Blunkett,
If HE can't do it
We'll just junk it."
-Miles Kington, href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/campbell-blunkett-and-fayed-join-the-playground-skipping-circle-1161862.html "Campbell, Blunkett and Fayed join the playground skipping circle", 1 May 1998,
"David Blunkett (born 6 June 1947) is a British Labour Party politician and the Member of Parliament." [Wikipedia]
JOHN F KENNEDY WENT TO HAWAII
John F Kennedey went to Hawaii
And went down to the sea.
And the waves got highere and higher(swing rope higher up off the ground)
And faster and faster! (Swing rope faster. Jumper is out when they can't jump over the rope or can't jump fast enough.)
-http://www.homeschool.co.uk/resource/jump-rope/famous-people-rhymes.html, Jan 28 2006
JOY TO THE WORLD HUSSEIN IS DEAD
Joy to the world, Hussein is dead
We barbecued his head.
What happened to his body?
We flushed it down the potty.
And around and around it goes
And around and around it goes.
And around, around, around it goes.
"Hussein" in this rhyme is Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
JOY TO THE WORLD JOHN HOWARD'S DEAD
I remember this one from primary school:
Joy to the World,
John Howards dead,
We barbecued his head.
He didn't pay his taxes,
We chopped him up with axes,
Joy to the World John Howards dead.
I went to his coffin,
I went to his grave.
Everyone threw flowers,
I threw a grenade.
The coffin went up,
the coffin came down,
the coffin went splat all over the ground
Joy to the World John Howards dead.
I looked in his coffin,
He wasn't quite dead.
So I pulled out a bazooka and blew off his head
Joy to the World John Howards dead.
-Guest, Tipsy Turvy, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=122222
"Jingle Bells, Batman Smells", 12/21/2008
John Howard was the 25th Prime Minister of Australia from 11 March 11,1996 to December 3, 2007 [Wikipedia]
LANDON IN THE WHITEHOUSE
Landon in the White House
Waiting to be elected.
Rosevelt in the garbage can,
Waiting to be collected.
"Alfred "Alf" Mossman Landon (September 9, 1887 – October 12, 1987) was an American Republican politician, who served as Governor of Kansas from 1933–1937. He was best known as Republican Presidential Nominee, defeated in a landslide by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election." [Wikipedia]
Betty Crocker makes it,
Ronald Reagan takes it,
Why can't we? Why can't we?
-http://www.inthe80s.com/rhymes.shtml, retrieved by Azizi Powell, 10/15/2008
NIKOSI SIKELELI AFRICA
I got to thinking about playground rhymes a few years ago when my sons, then aged about 8 and 10, came back from school with some New South African classics (sorry, I remember only fragments of them). This one was sung to the tune of our National Anthem:
'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica
Thabo Mbeki promised us a VCR
When we went to fetch it, all he said
Was voetsek, and never come back'
-http://salma-gundi.blogspot.com/2008/01/skinny-malinky-long-legs-big-banana.html "Skinny Malinky Long-Legs, Big Banana Feet, and other priceless South African playground rhymes and skipping songs"
Thabo Mbeki was the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008" [Wikipedia]
ON TOP OF OLD SMOKEY (Example #1)
On top of a white roof, all covered with blood
Regan shot Khadafi, with a 44 stud.
He went to his funeral, he went to his grave
Instead of red roses, he threw a granade.
He read in the papers, that he wasn't dead
So he bought a bazooka and blew off his head.
"Regan" = Ronald Reagan
Khadafi = Muammar Gaddafi, former leader of Libya [Wikipedia]
ON TOP OF OLD SMOKEY (Example #2)
When I was a kid one of the songs we sang was
On top of Old Smoky, all covered with sand,
I shot Premier Khrushchev with a blue rubber band.
I shot him with pleasure, I shot him with pride.
I couldn't have missed him - he's 40 feet wide.
Second verse: change rubber band color and shoot Fidel Castro.
If I'd been a few years younger I'm sure I'd have learned to shoot Ho Chi Minh...
Nikita Khrushchev was a Russian politician who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. [Wikipedia]
"Fidel Castro is a Cuban politician and revolutionary who served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and then President from 1976 to 2008." [Wikipedia]
"Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader who was prime minister (1945–55) and president (1945–69) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam)". [Wikipedia]
THE WAR IS OVER
The war is over
He wants to go to heaven
with a crown upon his head
The Lord says 'no'
He's got to stay below
All dressed up
And no place to go!
-http://www.homeschool.co.uk/resource/jump-rope/famous-people-rhymes.html, June 03 2005
"Benito Mussolini was an Italian politician, journalist, and leader of the National Fascist Party, ruling the country as Prime Minister from 1922 until his ousting in 1943." [Wikipedia]
UNDERNEATH THE CHURCHYARD
under neath the churchyard
six feet deep
there lies hitler
all the little mice come and tickle his feet
neath the churchyard six feet deep
-http://www.homeschool.co.uk/resource/jump-rope/famous-people-rhymes.html, January 31 2006
VOTE, VOTE, VOTE FOR WINSTON CHURCHILL
Here's one I learned at my mother's knee. Don't know if it's a children's rhyme or a grown-ups one. It probably dates from 1945 or so. Although I can sing it I can't remember the name of the original tune - it'll come to me soon!
Vote, vote, vote for Winston Churchill
Throw all the others in the dock.
Winston is our man, we'll have him if we can
And we'll throw all the others in the dock.
(By the cock!)
-Guest, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=115214 "Famous People in Children's Rhymes", 10/12/2008
"Winston Churchhill was a British statesman who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955." [Wikipedia]
WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK (Example #1)
Ah, and in my Republican white collar suburb of Detroit, in the 50's we sang:
Whistle while you work
Stevenson's a jerk
Eisenhower has the power
Whistle while you work.
-Barbara, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=81350&messages=243 "I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes", 22 May 05
"Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (February 5, 1900 – July 14, 1965) who served one term as governor of Illinois and ran, unsuccessfully, for president against Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956". [Wikipedia]
WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK (Example #2)
When I was growing up in North Bay in Canada, I heard this song, sung to the tune of "Whistle while you Work" from Snow White
Oh, Whistle while you work
For Hitler is a jerk
Mussolini bit his weinie
Now it doesn't work!
(We were pretty rude kids)
-Guest, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=76185 "Naughty kids' greatest hits II", 6/26/2000
WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK (Example #3)
Whistle while you work,
Hitler is a jerk,
Rosellini bit his weenie,
Now it doesn't work.
Interestingly (?), former Governor Rosellini has been in the news recently (well, a year ago maybe) for his role in the Seattle City Council "Strippergate" scandal, which led to the electoral defeat of several councilperoffspring. ("-peroffspring" is the non-sexist, non-ageist version of "-man")
I was born in 1954 in Seattle (Washington, USA)… I'm pretty sure my recollection of "Whistle while you work" dates to the early '60s when I lived at 2311 North 59th Street in Seattle.
-Haruo, http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=2795 " Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, I Bit the Teacher's Toe!", 3/29/2005 and 3/30/2005
"Albert Dean Rosellini (January 21, 1910 – October 10, 2011) was an American politician, the 15th governor of the state of Washington for two terms, from 1957 to 1965."..[Wikipedia]
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If you know other examples of rhymes that include politicians (or other versions of these examples), please add them in the comment section. Thanks!