on nursery rhymes


Matt read that last post and pointed out a minor inaccuracy.  Not all of Mary’s dolls are named Mary.  Some of them are named Taffy.  And then we laughed.  A lot.

We have the old tattered copy of the above book that my mother read me in the 1970s.  You can still get the book (and you should)  but I’m pretty sure it has been revised to meet the current standards of political correctness.  Our old version contains the following gems:

There were once two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought there was one cat too many;
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
Till excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren’t any.

Because every preschooler should learn about catfights, especially when the cats die at the end.


Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief,
Taffy came to my house and stole a piece of beef.

I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy wasn’t in,
I jumped upon his Sunday hat and poked it with a pin.

Taff was a Welshman, Taffy was a sham,
Taffy came to my house and stole a leg of lamb.

It gets more and more charming for several more stanzas.

I had no idea there was a history of antagonism between the English and the Welsh, but am left to wonder why, after hearing this rhyme, Mary thought Taffy would be a great name for her favorite doll.  But then, Ramona Quimby thought “Chevrolet” was a lovely name for her doll. (Mary reminds me of Ramona some days. Also Punky Brewster.)

In this book, Mary’s also a big fan of a handsome cat named Bobby Shafto.  And I wonder if the current version of the book includes the one about bringing one’s wife home in a wheelbarrow? 


3 thoughts on “on nursery rhymes

  1. Jacque

    Speaking of books from your childhood. I remember sitting with your sister Anne in Sacrament Mtg. for some reason. She wanted me to read her a book and as I was reading it talked about have cakes and coffee. I was pretty sure if I said coffee in Sac. Mtg. I would have to have an interview with the bishop…so I skipped that stanza and turned the page. Anne piped up ” Hey, you forgot to read about the coffee and cakes!!!”,… o.k. Bishop Charles…here I come.

  2. Robin

    Reminds me of one of my favorites as a kid, called “Millions of Cats.” I actually have a copy of it my mom gave me. I think it was written in the twenties. There was an old man and old woman who wanted a cat for company, so the old man went off in search of one, and for some reason, found “hundreds of cats, thousands of cat, millions and billions and billions of cats!” Since he couldn’t make up his mind which one he liked best, he brought them all home, which his wife wasn’t excited about. She said they could only keep one, the “prettiest one.” So, of course, all the cats started fighting over who was the prettiest, and they ended up all eating each other up. Nice, huh?

    There was another good one about a cat that ate a lot of people and got very fat. Anybody remember that one?

  3. LCM

    I can totally recite the cats of Kilkenny. There is another one, I should find for you where it ends up that two cats get swept out into the snow because they are fighting and decide that it’s better to sit quietly by the fire than hang out in the cold snow.I love Ramona too.


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