Main Piece: Miss Susie

Miss Susie had a steamboat,

The steamboat had a bell,

Miss Susie went to heaven,

The steamboat went to…

Hello Operator,

Please dial Number 9,

And if you disconnect me,

I’ll cut off your…

Behind the ‘frigerator,

There was a piece of glass,

Miss Susie sat upon it,

And cut her little…

Ask me no more questions,

Tell me no more lies,

The boys are in the bathroom,

Pulling down their…

Flies are in the meadow,

The bees are in the park,

Miss Susie and her boyfriend are kissing

D A R K, D A R K, 

dark, dark dark 

Background: This is a folk song that has been circulating the playground since I was a kid, and now, the informant, my little sister, also knows this tune. When she sings it, I can always join in, as can my mom because she also remembers a similar version from her childhood. There is little variation between the three versions of the songs, but as the song has aged, so has the length of the song. 

Context: The informant sang this song to me when I asked her favorite nursery rhyme. This song is definitely more mature than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, for instance, so I was not surprised that an older child chose it. She sang me this portion of the song and said that there was more, but she was uncertain of all the lyrics off the top of her head. I knew the words of the song up to this point, but my mom said that the version she knew stopped at “Pulling down their…Flies”. 

Thoughts: This is a folk song that has withstood the test of time and grown with age. I looked up the rest of the tune and there are many proceeding verses that are not appropriate for all ages. For example, some lyrics include: “I know I know my sister With the forty-acre bra.”, “I wish I had a boyfriend Who kissed me all the time!”, and “He made me wash his underwear So I kicked him out the door”. For the extended version of this song visit, Miss Susie Had a Steamboat (Hello Operator). I think this song is a testimony to how our music has become less censored than it was in prior generations. The kids have modified and added lyrics to the song that are more provocative and test the boundaries of childhood.