I met a man going to St. Ives

Na: I met a man as I was going to St. Ives and every, and every, oh! I met a man who had, um, cats, he, oh gosh, anyway (Ni: *laughing*) at St. Ives, and he met this man with cats and kits and whatever. So the whole term is: How many people were going to St. Ives?

Ni: I, I don’t know, 2??

Na: One, (Ni: one??) me! (*chuckles*)

Ni: Oh! Ok (*chuckles*)


I received this folklore while talking to my Grandmom, an elderly lady of almost 80, with a lively personality and jovial spirit. She often likes to tell jokes and poke fun, especially and my brother and I, her grandkids. As I was interviewing her for folklore, she decided to tell me a riddle which I had never known before, but apparently both she and her husband, my grandad, definitely knew. Why she remembers this specific riddle is unclear, and as to where she know it from, at this point she doesn’t even remember, but she still remembered the main gist of it, and in the end, both of us were laughing even though I got tripped up when asked to answer the ending question. Riddles across cultures have been used as a way to bring people together and to decide who is and is not a part of the gang, fortunately, my grandmom did not kick me out for not properly answering the riddle. In instances like these, the riddle is all in good fun, a bonding element between and grandma and her granddaughter, everyone was able to have a laugh and the light fun spirits continued. In one variant of the riddle, there are two men, one with I believe cats, and the other with wives, despite this divergence, it always ends the same, with only one person going to St. Ives, me!