January 14, 2014
Hey, hey, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me.
You’ll bring your dollies three,
Climb up my apple tree.
Cry down my rain barrel,
Slide down my cellar door.
And we’ll be jolly friends
So sorry, playmate
I cannot play with you.
My dolly’s got the flu.
Can’t cry down your rain barrel,
Or slide down your cellar door.
But we’ll be jolly friends
Camp songs. I grew up on them. We didn’t just sing them at camp. We sang them at school, in the car and in the fields. Songs that probably were around since our parents were children….or even older.
For some reason the above song began ringing in my head. I couldn’t put it aside, so I decided to take a look at it. I sang these words many times in my childhood but never really thought much about what they meant. Sliding down the cellar door didn’t make much sense to me, but I sang it anyway. Hollie and Margaret had a cellar door on the side of their house that slanted down. I’m sure that is what the words refer to yet sliding down a couple of wooden doors brought visions of splinters in the backside. I knew about the rain barrel. Had never cried down it so have no idea what the results would be. Brenda and I always had our dollies nearby, so without a doubt we have been friends forever more.
It is funny the things we remember at random times. I remember listening to my Aunt Welma Johnson whistling old tunes. Bits of the past that just become part of who we are. They creep up without notice. They are planted so long ago that have forgotten the exact moment they happened. Along with the song, I think of hayrides and Camp Sugar Grove. Little girls, totally unaware of the years that would follow, innocently singing and laughing, learning a piece of history by rote. My children and grandchildren cannot relate to the song. They don’t know what it was like to play on a farm finding adventure at every turn. Adventure that never got old. Stager’s old cellar door is gone. Dad’s rain barrel was never used in my life time. And a few old dollies sit around waiting for a granddaughter to come play.
Being a child of the farm meant having a rich history that was just part of our everyday lives. In our songs, our playground, in our faith, we did much the same as had our relatives generations before. I know there were times that I wanted to escape the slower, country life. Yet as I look back, I find that I had perhaps the richest life of all. So I will sing the songs of long ago and wonder at the splinters on the backside and remember my curly haired friend who shared most every day of that childhood.
Come all ye playmates. Come remember with me.
Pam Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.