Rhyme/Game – New York

“Playmate, come out and play with me

And bring your dollies three

Climb up my apple tree

Shout down my rain barrel

Slide down my cellar door

And we’ll be jolly friends forever more, more, more, more, more

I’m sorry playmate

I cannot play with you

My dolly’s got the flu


Ain’t got no rain barrel

Ain’t got no cellar door

But we’ll be jolly friends forever more”  (Repeat and increase speed)

Virginia told me that this is a handclapping game that she used to play when she was a little girl growing up on the elementary school playground in the 1960s near Westchester County in New York.  Usually two girls got together and sat across from one another and slapped hands and sang this tune to go along with the clapping.  She said that most girls on her playground knew how the song went and how the sequence of claps was, and like many playground games only the girls played this handclapping game. Virginia said that this also took place mostly on the playground, at lunch tables, or in the classroom when the teacher wasn’t having them do work.  She told me that this was not the only handclapping rhyme that she had learned growing up but it was the one that she remembered the words the best to.

Only the children played this handclapping game, as the adults were often shunned from this child’s play.  Also, Virginia said the better a girl was at handclapping, the more respect they had from among their peers and often the best clappers would face off against each other to see who would mess up first.

In reading through the lyrics of the song it makes sense that two girls would be singing this song to each other. The lyrics basically say that one friend wants the other to come out and play but the other replies that her dolly is sick so she can’t come out, yet they will continue to be friends anyways.  Girls were known to carry dolls in the 1960s, not boys.    Also, the fact that girls rarely associated with boys in elementary school gives this even more evidence that it was regarded as a strictly feminine game.  This rhyme reflects a girls desire to make friends and also children’s imagination by giving life to the dolls.