“Down by the banks of the hanky-pankey

Where the bull frogs jump from bank to bankey

Singing Eaps, Ips, Ops, Uops, Tiddly Windly, Bing Bong!”

She stood in a circle with a group of girls. Her right hand was placed facing upwards, on top of the left hand of the girl to her right. Her left hand was placed below the right hand of the girl to her left. One girl started it off by taking her top hand (right hand) and hitting/tapping the girl’s hand to her left, which was on top of her own hand. As the song progressed, each girl would hit/tap the hand of their adjacent person. When the note “bong” was sung, that person who was last slapped was out. She could avoid getting out, if she was quick enough to pull her hand out of the way, so that the last person would wind up slapping her own hand. This continued until it was down to the last two people. The last two people would then grab each others hand as if they were going to thumb wrestle. They would then move their arms, back and forth in one fluid motion, singing the song. When it ended on bong, each person would try to make the other person fall by pulling them. The person most successful at making the other stumble won the game.


Angela learned this song in third grade. It was very popular to play during recess. All the girls would gather together and play until it was time to go in. Boys did not partake in the activity. She learned “Down by the Banks” from her classmates.

This popular hand game, although seems innocent enough has sexual connotation to it. The title itself includes the word Hankey Pankey. The definition of this word means adultery or illicit sexual relations. The story goes that a bullfrog, a male, will jump from bank to bankey, or from woman to woman. More specifically, he is jumping from girl to girl around the circle. He’s singing Eaps, Ips, Ops, Uoops. These words are onomatopoetic, giving the impression of wrongdoing. The word bong symbolizes that he gets caught for his inexcusable actions. It is interesting to notice that only girls play the game and they are trying to catch the bullfrog, or in simpler words, women are trying to catch a cheating husband. If they caught him, they will hit the hand of another. If they miss, they hit their own hand. The phrase down by the banks can be traces back to the city of Liverpool, England. There the phrase means to tell someone off, which is very appropriate for this scenario.