Down by the banks

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/21
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

The informant explained that this is a hand game or clapping game she used to play at summer camp in between activities with the other girls who were in her cabin. Her estimate for when people play it is ages 6-12. You learn it by playing and other children explain it to you. She also said that this game” slaps” and would totally play it today.

SD: The song is:

Down by the banks of the hanky panky

Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky 

With an eeps opps soda pops

Hey mister lilypad went kerplops

So, you sit in a circle with a group of three or more typically and each person has their right hand on top of the person to their right’s left hang. So your left hand is under someone’s right hand and your right is on top of someone’s left. Then while you’re singing the song, every word, there’s a beat on every word, where you slap your right hand onto the person to your left’s left hand and you go in a circle until the song runs out and on the last beat kerplop, the person who is hitting is trying to slap the person to their left’s right hand and that person is trying to avoid getting slapped. If you get your hand slapped, you’re out, or if you try to hit the person’s hand but you miss because they’ve moved their hand out of the way, you’re out. And that keeps going until there are two people left. Then the last two people lock right hands and pull back and forth on the beat of the lyrics and at the end whoever pulls the other person toward them wins.

Context: This piece was collected during an in person conversation.

Thoughts: I was surprised when hearing the informant’s version of this clapping game because I played the same game with different lyrics. This is a common game I played in PE and at recess, taught by other children. So it is passed on from child to child through their community. It’s also clear that it exists in multiplicity and variation given that I grew up on the other side of the country and played it the same way, albeit with different lyrics. There also seems to be an oppositional issue that comes to play in children’s folklore as there is a male vs. female aspect of this game that changes; she said she played it with only girls, while I played with both genders.