American Elephants


An Odd Exploration of American History and Folkways by The Elephant's Child

I woke up this morning with a nonsense song my father used to sing to me when I was very little, in my head, and tried to write it down. Then I decided to try to search to see if it was a popular song of his day, or a children’s song from his childhood., or indeed, if anything at all would result from a search, after all, this is the computer age!

Here’s what I wrote down, deeply imprinted in my head after all these years, and don’t ask how many.

Shoo, shoo, shoo went the Roo,
Shoo went the Rocklechockle,
Chittle went the Choo,
Crosskey a Vanjo, Faddle Daddle Day,
Cajittle went the Banyan Slando.

We went up on yonder hill,
There we sat and cried our fill.
Cried enough tears to fill a water bill,
Cajittle went the Banyan Slando.

I found first:“Mia’s Bicultural Bedtime:

She comented: “I learned this song from my own mother. One of the few early memories I have is of her singing this to me at night time.”
The “Johnny’s gone for a soldier” line suggests the Civil War, but…

John Cowan wrote on Yahoo in 2003:
I got curious about a song half-remembered from my childhood and spent a few hours tracking it down. It makes a marvelous example of the folk process at work, as well as what happens to Irish when the Americans (even those of Irish or Scots-Irish descent) get hold of it.
The original song is “Shule Aroon”, and the first verse and chorus look like this (old orthography):

I would I were on yonder hill
‘Tis there I’d sit and cry my fill,
And every tear would turn a mill,
Is go dtëidh, a mhuirmin,slán!

Slubhail, slubhail, slubhail, a rúin!
Slubhail go socair, agus slubhll go cluin,
Slubhail go dti an dorus agus euligh liom,
ls go dtéidh tú, a mhuimin, slán!

On arrival in the colonies, the song split into two versions. The better- known one shed its Irish altogether, aquired a Revolutionary War motif and became:

Here I sit on Buttermilk Hill,
Who should blame me cry my fill?
And every tear would work a mill,
Johnny has gone for a soldier.

Buttermilk Hill is in Westchester Couty, New York; supposedly dairy
cattle were hidden there during the Revolution to protect them from
raiders from either side. The tune changed too, but all versions can be
sung to all tunes, so I ignore this.

But in the southern U.S., where there were lots of Irish and Scots-Irish
people, the Irish was retained in singing, but its meaning was forgotten and its phonetics garbled. This version was collected in Arkansas in 1958, when I was busily being born.

Well I wish I was on yonders hill
There I’d set and cry my fill
Every drop would turn a mill
Ish come bibble ahly-boo-so-real.

Shule-shule-shule–roo
Shule-like-sharus-spilly-bolly-qule
First time I saw spilly-bolly-eel
Ish come bibble in the boo-shy-laurie.

Not too much later, I learned the “Buttermilk Hill” version but with the following chorus:

Shool, shool, shool a rool,
Shool a rack-a-shack, shool-a-barbecue,
When I saw my Sally-baba-yeel,
Come bibble in the boo-shy laurie.

And so over the past 200+ years, Irish has turned slowly to complete
gibberish…Ghu only knows what will happen to the song if Americans
keep singing it for the next 200 years.

My version (complete gibberish) but recognizable with the crying-on-a- hill part, came from the South Carolina Scots-Irish who arrived shortly before the Revolution, and my father’s father was descended from that group. My father came from Pennsylvania. The song was unknown to my mother whose people were very early New England.

I don’t know if you find the folkways interesting, but perhaps there’s someone out there with another version. Of course early Americana is beyond out-of-fashion currently, evil, white people invaded a peaceful paradise, displaced and destroyed the gentle indigenous peoples, and if we just tear down all remnants of the founding….

It would probably help a lot more if our schools did a decent job of teaching American history. The current crop of aspiring candidates for the presidency, and the new young representatives in Congress make it clear that there is something deeply wanting in the history department.



A Cheerful Song About BREXIT : Shall We Stay or Shall We Go?? by The Elephant's Child

If you re offended by a little vulgarity (the F-word) nevermind. If not, this is great fun. Pure English Music Hall, I think though I’ve never been in one.



A Song of Patriotic Prejudice by The Elephant's Child

The rottenest bits of these islands of ours
We’ve left in the hands of three unfriendly powers.
Examine your Irishman, Welshman or Scot
You’ll find he’s a stinker as likely as not

The English the English are best
I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest

The Scotsman is mean as we’re all well aware
And bony and blotchy and covered with hair,
He eats salty porridge, he works all the day
And he hasn’t got Bishops to show him the way

The English are noble, the English are nice
And worth any other at double the price

And crossing the Channel one cannot say much
For the French or the Spanish. the Danish. or Dutch
The Germans are German, the Russians are Red
And the Greeks and Italians eat garlic in bed

The English are moral, the English are good
And clever and modest and misunderstood

Flanders & Swann



Natural Selection and the Character of the American People by The Elephant's Child

Never was there a more outrageous or more unscrupulous or ill informed advertising campaign than that by which the promoters for the American colonies brought settlers here. Brochures published in England in the seventeenth century, some even earlier, were full of hopeful over-statements, half-truths and downright lies. Gold and silver, fountains of youth, plenty of fish, venison without limit. How long might it have taken to settle this continent if there had not been such slick promotion. How has American civilization been shaped by the fact that there was a kind of natural selection here of those people who were willing to believe in advertising?

………………………………………………………..From Hidden History
………………………………………………………..
by Daniel Boorstin



The Battle of Culloden Moor by The Elephant's Child
October 1, 2017, 6:34 am
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Scotland | Tags: , ,

16th of April, 1746: The Battle of Culloden Moor

The last great charge of the Highland clansmen—cut down by the volleys of the Redcoat English and Lowland Scots. The life of the clans was suppressed forever. Gaelic proscribed. Native dress (kilts and plaid) forbidden, organization banned, leaders banished.

Clearances allowed Loyalist landowners to expel the inhabitants and replace them with sheep. The result was an uninhabited Highlands which thrills tourists today and leaves more Scots in the United States than in Scotland.

The clearances combined with the two centuries old enclosure movement drove the small holders from the land in Britain and the purges deprived England of the small farmers that might have dissipated the rigid class system.




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