Miss Mary


The informant, Chase, is the brother of the interviewer. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois where he currently resides. 


Chase tells the interviewer about a childhood rhyme they would sing on the playground.


“So this rhyme you would sing to your friends on the playground. It was always funny as kids because the words sound like they are about to be swear words, but then they are not. So no adults could get you in trouble for saying them because you didn’t actually say them. I learned it from you [interviewer] who learned it from our older cousin, Jordan.

The rhyme goes like this: ‘Miss Mary had a steamboat, Her steamboat had a bell. Miss Mary went to heaven, Her steamboat went to… Hell-o operator, give me number nine. If you disconnect me, I’ll kick you in the… Behind the refrigerator, there was a piece of glass.

Miss Mary sat upon it, and broke her little… Ask me no more questions, tell me no more lies.

The cows are in the pasture, eating chocolate pies, pies, pies. Miss Mary went to London, Miss Mary went to France. A french man pulled down Miss Mary’s underpants, pants, pants.’

I told all of my friends who thought it was the funniest thing. We would sing it all the time on the playground.


This is a very funny rhyme for kids. It is interesting how vast children’s folklore is and how quickly it can travel. My cousin who taught this to me is from Kentucky. All it took was one visit for Thanksgiving, and suddenly a rhyme kids in Kentucky sing made it all the way to a playground in Chicago.