Salt, pepper, mustard, cider
How many legs has a spider?
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight (speed of rope is increased)
Please tell me.
What’s my sweetheart going to be?
Doctor, lawyer, banker, thief,
Sailor, soldier, Indian Chief? (Repeat all at even faster speed)
My mother told me that she used to sing this jump rope rhyme when she was a young girl at Hindley Elementary School in Darien, CT. She told me that there were always two girls at the end of the jump ropes and that boys never sang this song or participated in the jump roping. My mom told me that typically this rhyme was sung during recess with classmates or even in her street back home with her sister and neighbors. They would repeat this until the person jumping rope either tripped or just decided to stop. My mom said that the goal of the jumping was to get faster and faster and see how fast you could go. She also said that often another person would join in the jumping or would replace the person jumping without the ropes being stopped or the song being sung.
In examining the words of the rhyme it is clear that only girls should be the ones who sing it. By asking the gypsy which one of the following male professions would be their sweetheart, it is quite clear that no boys would want to jump in on the game. Also, the fact that most lines rhyme with the one before give it the unique rhyming quality that also makes it fun for young girls to sing.
This jump rope rhyme enables young girls to start thinking about their future and start getting used to the idea of having a man sometime at a later point in life. It is a good way to subconsciously allow girls to start talking about the subject and make it more comfortable while gossiping with their friends about who their husband may be someday. I am not sure of the usage of this rhyme today, but I would argue that it has probably decreased mainly due to the fact that the idea of the American family has changed a lot over the last 40 to 50 years. The odds of a couple staying together are much less than they were a few decades ago, and because girls may have seen their own mothers and fathers part they may feel less secure about searching for the right man to marry someday, making this rhyme more obsolete in todays world.