Thursday, August 23, 2012

James Brown's Got the Beat.....!!!

I believe anyone who grew up on the South side of Chicago knows the rest of that lil' diddy. Ah! School Days!

Yes!  I'm back and ready to amuse myself with thoughts that come to me as I drift and as I awaken!  Welcome to my world, Readers!

This time, I wondered what, if anything, do children 'play' outside these days.  Since my daughter is a grown woman, I'm out of touch.  There used to be so many things we did as children that I wonder still happen today.

For instance, after recess and lunch break, we could be found in the playground, munching on our 5-cent butter or peanut butter cookies, compliments of the Chicago Public School Cafeteria Lady.  There would be games of It, Catch, hopscotch, hand games, jacks, kickball, cat's cradle (done with string or yarn), rubberband ropes (In-Out-Side to Side-On-In-Out), and my personal favorite, double-dutch.

To choose who would go first, in ANYthing, to be 'picked' we'd put our feet together in a circle (An alternate could be hitting the outstretched fists of each person-Ouch!).  One of the girls would tap the shoes of each foot with...

My mother said to pick the ve-ry best one.  And you are not it. (Great for self-esteem!)

Or this cheerful one...

Engine, Engine number nine
Going down Chicago line
If the train falls off the track
Do you want your money back? (Answer Yes or No. A moot point, in my opinion.)
Y-E-S (or N-O) spells Yes, so, out you may go
with a dirty, dirty dishrag on your toe. (????)

There was a comedian who included in his skit how in more 'suburban' settings, you'd have a little girl in pigtails and ribbons with her friends and a single rope jumping and singing, "Down in the valley where the green grass grows...".  Switch to urban Chicago playgrounds where girls are standing around, digging potatoes, aka hesitating to run in afraid of the rope burn across your face, because ropes are flying in every direction at a furious pace, singing something fast and unintelligible until the end where you heard, "...and your bald-headed mama!"  I embellished that a bit because it was so long ago.

I considered this and laughed out loud.  Our songs included, D-I-S-H (D is for double-dutch, I is for Irish-whatever!, S is for single, and H is for hop) during which you were required to perform whatever was called out until you missed (ropes stopped).  If you missed, you went to turn the ropes.  And, God help you if you were "underhanded" as you turned!

And why did one of our songs have to sound like an old Spiritual being sung in the fields?

Stepped in the water...boom-bah
The water was cold....boom-bah
Chilled my body........boom-bah
But not my soooooul..boom-bah

Then it got peppier....

Hoppin' on guessed it...boom-bah
Hoppin' on two.....boom-bah, etc.

This one was followed, after reaching ten of course, by one I, first, didn't understand, then was embarrassed to sing.  I wonder what in the world the teachers on duty in the yard were thinking and why they allowed this to happen daily!

So, Postman, Postman, do your duty
'Cuz here comes the lady with the African booty
She can wiggle, she can waddle, she can do the twist
She can raise her dress up above her knees
and show her legs to who she please
She never went to college, she never went to school
Bet-cha 5 dollars she's an educated fool!

What the....?????

A hand game for two that I, personally, always thought was clever ('cuz I got it) is...

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack (guess we needed to make sure you heard correctly?)
All dressed black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back.
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For 15 cents, cents, cents
To see the elephant, elephant, elephant
Jump over the fence, fence, fence.
He jumped so high, high, high
and touched the sky, sky, sky
and never came back, back, back
'til the 4th of July, LIE, LIE! (See? Clever, right?)

In conclusion, for those who don't know about James Brown, I'll clue you in here.  Why we weren't slapped in the head for this one, I'll never know.  But I can tell you, honestly, I didn't understand what was being said but just followed and jumped to the rhythym.  I imagine the equivalent to be today's rap music.  Just follow the rhythm, no matter what the words being said, no matter how demeaning, how trifling, how degrading to women. Sorry, I drifted there for a bit.  Here goes....

James Brown's got the beat
Drop your draws and follow me
In the bushes we will...

Man! I can't even finish it.  Let's just say it concludes with "Wontcha mama be surprised to see your belly rise".  'Nuff said?

Now that I think of it.  The kids are better off playing the video games, I guess.

Have a blessed rest of the week and stay cool!