Oh little playmate, come out and play with me . . .

And bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree

Slide down my rain barrel, into my cellar door

And we’ll be jolly friends, forever more! 

Dear little playmate, I cannot play with you.

I have a faculty meeting. 

Your pal,

Historiann

Feel free to add your rhyme ideas (or complaints) in the comments, friends!

45 thoughts on “Oh little playmate, come out and play with me . . .

  1. I’ll be right over! Classes ended yesterday and first final is not ’til Tuesday. What can I bring? Is there a GPS or Google Maps coordinate for that tree, or its house?

    I’da versified this, but…

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  2. Neither rhymes nor complaints but a recommendation: the jazz tenor sax player Johnny Griffin recorded “Playmates” around 1960 and it’s wonderful, cheerful and vigorous. It’s on his album “The Little Giant.”

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  3. Faaaaaabulous playhouse! And the tree in bloom surrounding it makes it even better! I didn’t get the full effect last year before we left the little town on the high prairie.

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  4. That rhyme has long interested me. It has hung around for at least three generations, changing to fit the world familiar to each.

    My mother taught me the version she learned in the early 1930s:

    Say, say my playmate, come out and play with me.
    And bring your dollies three, climb up my apple tree.
    Shout down my rain barrel, slide down my cellar door,
    And we’ll be jolly friends forever more.

    She explained that when you shout into an empty rain barrel, you hear an echo, and sloped outdoor cellar entrances made slides for kids without playground equipment. When my youngest sister learned it about 1970, that line had become, “Slide down my rainbow, look down my cellar door.” No one had rain barrels, and cellar doors were upright and inside the house. Now Historiann has another version!

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  5. No rain barrel. No cellar door. No ice box. No pantry. No lilac tree by the bay window. Total entropy. What’s the use of even having a treehouse?!? I’m glad my grandma didn’t live long enough to see this!

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  6. No more funding, quoth DOU,

    No more support for the likes of you.

    But I just passed my defense right well,

    So this whole school can go to hell.

    Not even graduated yet,

    But a letter in my box I get.

    A paying alumnus they want me to be,

    Just two words for them: Blow me.

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  7. Sharon–that’s so interesting. I’m going to change my version to your mother’s version, which makes much more sense. In my 1970s childhood, we preserved the rain barrel and the cellar door, but of course one can’t “slide down” a rain barrel. Thanks!

    Now, can anyone else help me with the response from the little playmate:

    Dear little playmate, I cannot play with you
    My dolly has the flu, the mumps and measels too (alt. “boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo.”)

    And after that I can’t remember the rest. Surely there must be other survivors of girlhood who can fill in the blanks!

    And, Prof. Koshary: congratulations, and thanks for the rhyme. Isn’t it interesting how little affection or loyalty most people’s grad institutions inspire? I feel the same way as you. I once gave a donation for a specific event to Penn on checks that included my husband’s name (also a “Dr.”) I had just been awarded my Ph.D., but we weren’t married then and our checks had our (different) last names. The thank-you note was sent to “Dr. and Mrs. Husband Lastname.” I wrote a letter of complaint to the Dean of Liberal Arts (under whose signature the letter was sent), stating that I was prepared to be patronized as the wife of a physician, but that 1) I wasn’t in fact yet his wife, and that 2) it was especially offensive from MY alma mater which had just recently awarded me a Ph.D.

    Now it happens all the time. (But I don’t give any more money to Penn.) I give to my undergrad college, which appears to get the concept that I in fact write those checks, and they don’t send the TY note to “Dr. and Mrs.”

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  8. I knew the rainbow version too. The response I remember is:

    Oh say o playmate
    I cannot play with you
    my dolly has the flu
    she might throw up on you

    There is no rainbow
    there is no cellar door
    but we’ll be jolly friends
    forever more, 1, 2, 3, 4

    I always thought the second playmate was a bit of a downer personally.

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  9. We used to sing the “mean” version:

    Say Say oh Playmate,
    Come out and fight with me,
    And bring your soldiers three,
    (a line I can’t remember)
    Slide down my razorblade
    Into my Dungeon door,
    And we’ll be enemies,
    For evermore!

    This is also from the 1970s.

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  10. One of the institutions I attended as a student had been robo-calling me *every single motherfucking day at 6PM* for years. I finally answered and asked the poor schnook who anwered if they really thought that this kind of incessant pestering was gonna make me decide to give them a donation.

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  11. Wow–you all were mean, Beth and Nikki! I’m reminded of that Matt Groening cartoon that’s a tribute to the nasty songs and rhymes from childhood, where the instructions conclude, “repeat until spanked.”

    The one semi-naughty rhyme I remember best was a clapping rhyme that started out “cross, down, . . .

    Miss Susie had a baby, she threw it in the well
    The baby went to heaven, Miss Susie went to
    HELLO operator, please give me number 9,
    And if you don’t connect me, I’ll kick your big
    BE-HIND the ‘frigerator, there was a piece of glass
    Miss Susie sat upon it, and broke her little
    ASK me no more questions, I’ll tell you no more lies,
    . . . . ?

    (I can’t recall the last line that wraps this one up. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?)

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  12. Miss Lucy had a steamboat
    The steamboat had a bell
    Miss Lucy went to heaven
    and the steamboat went to
    HELLo operator, please give me number 9
    And if you disconnect me
    I will chop off your
    BEHIND the frigerator
    There was a piece of glass
    Miss Lucy sat upon it
    And it went right up her
    ASk me no more questions
    I’ll tell you no more lies
    The boys are in the bathroom
    And they’re pulling down their
    FLIES are in the kitchen
    Bees are in the park
    The boys and girls are kissing in the
    D-A-R-K D-A-R-K D-A-R-K
    Dark is like the movies
    The movies like a show
    The show is like a TV set
    And that is all I know
    I know my mother
    I know I know my father
    I Know I know my sister with the
    eighteen-hour eighteen-hour eighteen-hour
    Bra bra bra!

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  13. Barnardian–take a bow. That’s it! And I think we sang it with both Lucy and Susie.

    I still like the baby in the well version better than the steamboat version, though. Those jump rope and clapping rhymes were so fascinating and easy to remember precisely because of their allusions to the mysteries of life: sex and death intertwined. Remember all of those “Cinderella dressed in yella” rhymes? Why on Earth would she “kiss a snake?”

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  14. Ah, this brings back memories. I sang this in the early 80s. I was just about to share the alternate version that Nikki shared, with the line about razor blades.

    Of course, contemporaneously my best friend and I also made up our own songs, based on complicated mythologies heavily influenced by pop culture. My favorite was “Zad the Breakdancing Dragon.”

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  15. Is this the treehouse that cost your husband a four-figure legal bill because it was constructed in violation of setback ordinances?

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  16. The witness is advised not to answer that question. No evidence has been presented to show that there *are* any setback ordinances in the town in question.

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  17. p.s. I did a quick wikilaw on this one and while it’s somewhat ambiguous, the apparent controlling ordinance in this case continues to be the Northwest Ordinance (1785), as modified by a long series of Homestead Acts.
    And setback ordinances don’t seem to come into much play in any of these places. West of Manhattan, as Jefferson argued, “who need[ed] ’em?” And, as Montesquieu had previously and famously noted, “setback ordinances are generally only found in small republics, not in expansive republics–or, for that matter, Empires–of liberty…”

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  18. The end of that one rhyme is:

    Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies
    Keep your mouth shut and you’ll swallow no flies.

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  19. My mom sang it to me like this:

    Oh yoohoo playmate (she sang it with my name :))
    Come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    Climb up the apple tree
    Holler down the rain barrel
    Slide down the cellar door
    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever more

    Oh yoohoo playmate (or Mommy, in her version)
    I cannot play with you
    My dollies have the flu
    Boo hoo, boo hoo, boo hoo
    We have no rain barrel
    There is no cellar door
    But we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever more.

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  20. I thought this song was a figment of my imagination. I guess it was around 1st grade we learned this ( 1986 ) I’m just waiting for Kanye West to use it as the hook for a rap song.

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  21. Our 2nd verse to Playmate…

    So sorry playmate
    I cannot play with you
    my dolly’s got the flu
    (she might throw up on you)
    ain’t got no rain barrel
    ain’t got no cellar door
    but we’ll be jolly friends
    forever more, more, more-more, more more

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  22. This is the version I learned from my mom who learned it from her mom and I don’t know how much further it goes back.

    Good morning (I can’t remember exactly if it was good morning or some other greeting but the rest I remember clearly) playmate
    come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    climb up my apple tree
    Slide down my rain barrel
    in through my cellar door
    And we’ll be jolly friends forever more.

    I’m sorry playmate
    I cannot play with you
    My dolly has the flu and
    German measles too
    Ain’t got no rain barrel
    Ain’t got no cellar door
    But we’ll be jolly friends forever more

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  23. oh little playmate, come out and play with me
    and bring your dollies three
    climb up my apple tree
    slide down your rainbow
    into my pot of gold
    and we’ll be merry friends
    forever more

    that’s how my mom sang it.

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  24. I always heard the response is-

    Dear little playmate,
    I can’t come out and play,
    my dolly has the flu,
    oh boohoohoo
    oh boohoohoo.

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  25. The song has a huge sexual overtone just read the lyrics and it’s all about having sex. I pointed this out to several people including my wife and we all cracked up about it.

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  26. This is a song my mother sang to us when we were kids fifty or so years ago. Between verse 1 and verse 2 is a bridge:

    “Hey little playmate,
    Come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three,
    climb up my apple tree.
    Shout down my rain barrel,
    Slide down my cellar door
    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever more!”

    “She couldn’t come out and play.
    It was a sunny day.
    With tearful eyes, she breathed a sigh
    and I could hear her say,”

    “I’m sorry, Playmate.
    I cannot play with you.
    My dollies have the flu.
    Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo!
    Ain’t got no rain barrel,
    ain’t got no cellar door.
    But we’ll be jolly friends
    forever more!”

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  27. Years ago my mother used to tell us a story of a little girl that found a mountain lion and brought it home. Her mother explained why this was not a good idea. As the story progresses the mountain lion daily ate one of her siblings. Come the last day, the little girl didn’t go to school — it was Saturday.

    Does anyone know how this story went. I am SOO much older now and of course, my mom is no longer here. Would love to hear all of it again.

    Thank you and would love to hear any of the older ones you might know.

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  28. My mom always sang it to me like this:

    Playmate, come out and play with me,
    And bring your dollies three,
    Climb up my apple tree,
    Look down my rain barrel,
    Slide down my cellar door,
    And we’ll be jolly friends forevermore

    It was a rainy day
    She couldn’t come out to play
    With tears in her eyes,
    She breathed with a sigh
    And I could hear her say

    I’m sorry playmate, I can’t come play with you,
    My dolly has the flu
    Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
    Can’t look down rain barrels,
    Can’t slide down cellar doors,
    But we’ll be jolly friends forevermore

    I don’t know where the “look down rain barrels” vs. “shout” came from…? Interesting to see all the different versions on here :)

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  29. We used to play a “clap” game while singing this song. It seems there are numerous versions. I’m sure the words just changed as time went on. Here’s what we used to sing (1972-1973 era):

    Playmate
    Come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    Climb up my apple tree
    Slide down the rain barrel
    And through the cellar door
    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever, more, more, more, more, more

    Sorry
    I cannot play with you
    My dolly has the flu
    Boo hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo
    Aint got no rain barrel
    Aint got no cellar door
    But we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever, more, more, more, more, more

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  30. My mother’s version used “holler down my rain barrel” and there was a bridge that went something like:

    I don’t want to play in your yard
    I don’t like you any more
    I won’t holler down your rain barrel
    or slide down your cellar door
    I won’t share with you my dollies
    or climb up your apple tree
    I don’t want to play in your yard
    If you won’t be good to me

    I’m amazed so many people remember their mother’s song! I am 76 and heard it around 1937-40. Tom Bauer

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  31. Here’s OUR version…

    Hey say hey playmate
    come out and play with me
    and bring your dollies three
    climb up my apple tree
    climb up my rainspout
    slide down my cellar door
    and we’ll be jolly friends forever more.

    So sorry playmate,
    I can’t come play with you
    my dolly has the flu,
    boo hoo hooo hoo hooo hoo
    but someday playmate
    I will come play again
    and we’ll be jolly friends
    until the end.

    THIS FROM MY GREAT-GRANDMOTHER VIRGINIA WHEN I WAS ABOUT 3 (1995).
    I understand there’s a 3rd version out there too!

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  32. Thank you so much to all of you for this! I have been looking for the words for this for years. I learned this in about 1956 from my mother. My friends and I sang it together with a hand clapping game. Last year I tried to teach it to some children at the school where I was teaching in Kiev, but could not remember it all. I am still teaching and trying to keep these hand clapping and jump rope rhymes from being totally forgotten.
    It was a joy to read all your versions and discussion. I did find mine in there.

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  33. Mine was also one taught by my mother who sang it to me to be mean…. Ahhh Just her nature I suppose still love her tho despite her faults. I can remember many songs she taught me and this was one of them. Here is my version:

    Hello playmate won’t you come play with me
    and bring you dollies three,
    Climb up my apple tree,
    slide down my rainbow,
    slide down the cellar door,
    and we will be jolly friends forever more.
    The response in return was something to the effect that the friend was sick and couldn’t come play.. age and CRS seem to have caught me and I can no longer remember the rest but everyone has great versions. Thanks so much everyone for the walk down memory lane.

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  34. My mother always sang this version:

    It was a sunny day,
    she couldn’t come out to play
    With tears in her eyes,
    I heard her sigh and
    I could hear her say,
    “I’m sorry playmates,
    I cannot play with you,
    My dolly has the flu,
    Boohoo, hoo, hoo, hoo,hoo
    Ain’t got no rain barrel,
    Ain’t got no cellar door,
    But we’ll be jolly friends,
    For evermore.”

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  35. It was a RAINY day,
    She couldn’t come out and play.
    With tearful eyes, she breathed a sigh
    And I could hear her say,
    I’m sorry, playmate,
    I cannot play with you
    My dollie has the flu,
    Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo
    ….

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  36. CeCe, my playmate,
    come out and play with me!
    Bring your dollies three.
    Climb up my apple tree.
    Slide down my rainbow,
    into my cellar door,
    we’ll be jolly friends for ever more.
    1 2 3 4!

    I loved this song and sing it to my kids all the time. We did it as a hand clapping song, where you sit across from one another with your legs crossed and clap across your chest, slap your knees, clap your hands and then match hands with your friend, getting faster and faster as you went. After reading this, I now remember there was a response about not being able to come out because your dollies are sick with the flu. (I’m sorry, playmate. I cannot play with you. My dollies have the flu. Boohoohoohoo. I have no rainbow. I have no cellar door, but we’ll be jolly friends forever more. 1 2 3 4!) I always figured “CeCe” was a girl’s name.

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  37. I was taught an entirely different chant:

    See, see my playmate,
    I cannot play with you
    My dolly’s got the flu
    Chicken pox and measles too.
    Down by the drain pipe
    I met a dolly
    A certain dolly
    And I kept it too.

    Just to show how different countries can be.

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  38. This is how I learned it in Ohio in the late 6o’s:

    See, see my playmate
    Come play with me
    And bring your dolly spree
    Climb up my apple tree
    Slide down my rainbow
    Into my cellar door
    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forevermore, more, shut the door!

    So sorry playmate
    I cannot play with you
    My dolly’s got the flu
    She’ll puke all over you
    Ain’t got no rainbow
    Ain’t got no cellar door
    But we’ll be jolly friends
    Forevermore, more, shut the door!

    Do kids even do these anymore? I’ve asked and they are unfamiliar with them, just like Chinese jump rope… :(

    Like

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