Sing a Song of Six Pence…

It was in one of the last boxes from the storage unit Hubs found in the garage. We’re both still missing specific items, neither of which unfortunately, were in this box. Dang. I’ve long been fascinated with old toys ranging from pedal cars to rattles, and have had oodles of miscellaneous toys over the years. But as we’ve moved and downsized, I’ve have gotten rid of most of them. This little cutie was somehow over looked and sat forlornly on the bottom of the box. I was tickled pink to see it again.

To the babies, this is what nightmares are made of. When I sing…

The ‘pie’ was made by Mattel in 1953, so it’s pretty close to my age. When you wind the little crank, black birds pop up through the holes while it plays the tune to the song. You know when you hear a song from your past if you’re in the mall or your car? The melody or lyrics instantly bring you back to the people, times, feelings and emotions, even smells that single tune meant for you at one time. Sometimes a euphoric feeling, while another song may still cause pain after all these years. Well, Sing a Song of Six Pence did none of that. It did however, make me smile. I don’t even remember where or how long ago I bought this little toy. My guess would be a garage sale with my friend Mary Ellen when we lived in Davenport 30 years ago. Might have paid a buck or 2 for it.

Here I am in 1953 with my Dad. Same time as the pie was produced…

I found the Sing a Song of Six Pence pie in the box about 3 months ago. Since that day, the song tune has been popping in and out of my head. That’s 90 days and counting. One might think this is debilitating. Au contraire. The new tune merely plays havoc with the loud noises already in my head. 24/7. A chain saw on one side and a dentist drill on the other. The song has actually been a nice distraction. But I’m not the one who’s really feeling the pain of that monotonous little ditty so much.

I thought ‘my problem’ with said song had something to do with the dinky town of Dyersville, Iowa. I know that’s just weird, right? When John and I drove through Iowa in September, some of our stops were in the surrounding little towns near Dyersville. We lived amongst the Catholics during the mid-70’s. While I was feeling all nostalgic about some of our former residences, Hubs was determined to visit the movie set from Field of Dreams, which is right outside of Dyersville. If you’ve not seen the movie (what’s wrong with you 2 anyway?) it’s really endearing and worth a couple hours of your time. A magical baseball movie. Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan and one of my favorites, Ray Liotta.

Kevin makes the best baseball movies. Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, For Love of the Game…

The flick came out 25 years ago, yet the movie set remains intact and still visited frequently by passersby. The set looks exactly like it did in the movie. It helped that it was early September and the corn was still very tall and green. I could visualize the long line of cars waiting patiently in the dark to move forward during the movie. And I can hear one of the famous quotes from Shoeless Joe Jackson asking, “is this heaven?” Costner’s character, Ray answers, “no, it’s Iowa!” Wow. I bought a commemorative T-shirt after a few minutes of walking around the baseball diamond, and was ready to move on. But John was dinking around. Yak, yak yak with the clerk at the gift shop about the time we graced their fair city. And the crazy brothers Hubs worked for back in the day. Reflecting back, I think some kind of magical spell was cast over me. Heeby-jeebies. Didn’t think about The Field of Dreams or Sing a Song of Six Pence until we got back to Michigan.

The magic of Field of Dreams, 1989…

There are some problems when one is profoundly deaf, but I can’t really blame my singing ability. I don’t know how I ever made the choir in school or church when I was young. OK, the town was very small and being part of both were almost a requirement. There is that. But I’ve never really been been able to carry a tune or harmonize. Usually when one loses their hearing, most of their ability of carrying a tune leaves the building. I’ve heard folks who sang beautiful solos all their life, and have now lost most of their hearing. They can’t carry a tune anymore. I think they’re flat, but not positive. And I’m hearing impaired. Wonder how they sound to normal eared folks?

My Field of Dreams souvenir last month…

But that has not stopped me at work. Might be the reason everyone else is our room is now sporting ear plugs. Just kidding. I like to sing to the babies. A lot. While I’m giving them a bottle, rocking, or walking them to sleep. The trick is to sing quietly enough so the other caregivers can remain sane, yet the baby can hear me. Another problem is the material. We all know the Grimm brother’s fairy tales are usually just that. Pretty grim. So are the silly songs I sing. So now we have a deaf person, singing off tune, and changing the lyrics along the way so not to cause nightmares. (For the babies and my co-workers). Desperate times folks call for desperate measures.

I knew the first verse plus 2 lines of the second to Sing a Song of Six Pence.

“Sing a song of Six Pence, a pocket full of rye.

Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.” (That alone is chilling)

“When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.” (they’re alive and still have their innards intact? Blech).

“Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?”

“The king was in the counting house, counting all his money.

The queen was in the parlor, eating bread and honey.”

And this is where I got stuck. Could not remember the next 2 lines. So I looked it up. (My eyes, my eyes)

“The maid was in the garden, hanging up the clothes.

When down swooped a raven and bit off her nose!”

Well holy shit, I couldn’t sing it THAT way. So I just changed it to,

“When down swooped a raven and nipped her on the nose.”

My little off-kilter singing repertoire also includes: “You are my Sunshine,” “Jack & Jill went up a Hill,” “It’s me, it’s me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer!” “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “Twinkle, twinkle little star,” and the famous, “Yellow Bird, so high in banana tree.” But Sing a Song of Six Pence remains my favorite. (Much to everyone’s chagrin).

Rocking a baby to sleep while singing to them is my absolute favorite part of the day. Luckily for me this happens several times each day. The baby is on their side, sometimes patting me with their arm that’s underneath. (An unbelievable feeling, almost makes me weep). Or looking at me in disbelief and picking at my shirt or face. Probably trying to claw my face or at the very least, close my mouth. And wondering how it’s humanly possible for me to screech like that? (Plus pleading, “Lord, what did I do to deserve this? Seriously God, why me?”) Such babies.

I’ve been rocking babies for 45 years. Rocking Adam in 1979…

Well the little stinkers went rogue this week. Went in cahoots with each other on my day off (probably with the help of several coworkers) and appointed a spokesman who usually speaks total gibberish. Which, until our little talk, consisted of “ga.” He’s a real charmer alright. Dark brown eyes, a smile that lights up a room and a big dimple. Just in case his eyes weren’t enough to make you melt, he sports 6 inch long black eyelashes for good measure. No lie. Yup, I’m a goner. He told me in no uncertain terms, “you have no magical power, when it comes to putting me or my crew to sleep quickly. None of us want to hurt your feelings, but self preservation won over the masses. It’s your off tune voice!” He concluded, “we have adapted rather quickly and now are able to close our eyes, slow our breathing and limit all movement. Pretending to be asleep. For one very simple reason. SO YOU’LL STOP SINGING. FOR ALL THAT IS SACRED AND HOLY. PLEASE. STOP. SINGING. We love you but it’s just too much. I’m sorry. We’re all sorry. But please-keep on rocking me baby, keep on rocking me baby, keep on rocking me baby. Chop, chop”…

2 thoughts on “Sing a Song of Six Pence…

  1. We had a 'pie' in our house. It must have been bought for one of my older brothers although long before \”53\”. Maybe it was just something similar – seem to remember pushing down and the toy spinning.\”Field of Dreams\”: Though 75% of the movie was a drag, the line…\”is this heaven?\” and the ending scene with father and son playing catch always produce a lump in my throat ( yeah, with tears to boot ). 😪


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