Playmate Come Out and Play With Me variations

Here’s one my music teacher taught me:

Oh Playmate, come out and play with me
and bring your dollies three
climb up my apple tree
look down my rain barrel
slide down my cellar door
and we’ll be jolly friends
for evermore!”

But here’s the thing – it’s not really a kids song, as it was written by an adult back in 1940. But it became so popular among kids as a “singing game” that it showed up in most collections of childrens folklore, with a few edits made for kids who didn’t know what a rain barrel was:

See See Playmate, come out and play with me
and bring your dollies three
climb up my apple tree
Slide down my rainbow
into my cellar door
and we’ll be jolly friends
for evermore!”

Rather than changing the line, my music teacher gave us a long talk explaining the rain barrel line. He said rain barrels were better for washing your hair than shampoo….some who were in the class contend that he said he didn’t BELIEVE in shampoo, but preferred to just stick his head in rain barrel (I can’t exactly vouche for that, but it sounds about right….the folklore about THAT guy could fill a book on its own). He also noted, in a rare moment of humor, that sliding down a cellar door usually led to serious splinters. This all hearkens back to an earlier day when looking down at a barrel of water was first class entertainment, I guess.

Anyway, though, the song lent itself to parody very well – I THOUGHT we were making parodies up, but the ones we came up with were virtually identical that the ones folklorists collected years before. Did someone in class know them, do the parodies just naturally suggest themselves, or are we in some sort of “universal mind/collecting unconscious” thing here?

Here’s one collected in Sherman’s book (at right) from Jerri, who heard it in Doraville, GA in 1972:

Vampire, come out and bite me
and bring your bats three
climb up my graveyard tree
slide down my tombstone
climb in my coffin door
and we’ll be vampires
for evermore!

Another, more violent version from Bronner’s book, circa 73:

Playmate, come out at play with me
and bring your tommy gun three
climb up my poison tree
drown in my rain barrel
fall down my cellar door
and we’ll be enemies
for evermore!

At the same time, Iona Opie was collecting similar parodies in England:

Baby, I cannot play with you
Because I’ve got the flu
chicken pox, measles too
Flush down the lavatory
into the drain pipe
and that’s the way they go – go -go

She also notes that versions ending in “for evermore” had the term “droopy drawers!” appended onto the end with a shout, and further notes that even the 1940 song was essentially a rewrite of an 1894 song (by an adult) called “I Don’t Want To Play In Your Yard:”

I don’t want to play in your yard,
I don’t like you anymore
you’ll be sorry when you see me
sldiing down our cellar door
you can’t holler down our rain barrel
you can’t climb our apple tree
I don’t want to play in your yard
if you won’t be good to me.

The tune was very different, but we end up with sort of a mobeus strip of a folk process here: going from one song, to another, to a parody that’s pretty much the same thing as the original!

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59 Comments

  1. Testing, 1 2 3

    I taught this to my preschoolers last year (as "Say Say My Playmate"), along with an additional verse I learned from my mother:

    So sorry playmate
    I cannot play with you
    My dollies have the flu
    Boo-hoo boo-hoo boo-hoo
    I have no rain barrel
    I have no cellar door
    But we'll be jolly friends
    For ever more, more– more more!

    Of course, some of my kids learned the "rainbow" version and corrected me when I said "rain barrel" and then I had to explain what a rain barrel was and we discussed how painful and difficult it must've been to slide down one, and then stuck with "rainbow" after that. Actually, a lot of them preferred the alternate "sad version" more than the standard, but I think that's because I taught them to fake moany-weepy-crying until the last two lines, which were said with great big grins.

    Man, I miss teaching little kids.

    Reply
  2. octoberose

    A variation from central Ohio in the 1990s that a friend and I made up while waiting for the rain to clear up so our softball game could start (we learned all the rhymes as "CiCi" my playmate)-

    CiCi my teammate
    Come out and play with me
    And bring your baseball's three
    Climb up my diamond gate
    Slide into home plate
    And through my dugout door
    And we'll be champions
    Forever more 1,2,3,4
    Take your base!

    Reply
  3. Dr. Confused

    I was a big snob as a kid (Vancouver 1980s) and always insisted on "rain barrel" while everyone else said "rainbow."

    Second verse similar but not the same as the comment above:

    See see my playmate
    I cannot play with you
    My dolly has the flu
    She might throw up on you
    And if she does

    (and I don't remember the rest)

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    This song takes me back to the early 60's to my childhood. My dad would sing us this song while driving.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Upper Michigan version, late 1960s. This was a sarcastic little clapping game and song.
    Oh jolly playmate, come out and play with me
    and bring your dollies three
    climb up my apple tree
    Slide down my rainbarrel
    into my cellar door
    and we'll be jolly friends
    for evermore!

    Oh jolly enemy
    I cannot play with you
    My dollies have the flu
    Boo-hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
    Ain't got no rain barrel
    Ain't got no cellar door
    But we'll be jolly enemies
    For ever more, more– more more!

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    I was taught the song by the old ladies in my grandmother's rest home when I was 9 (in 1951). It went:

    Oh playmate, come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    Climb up your apple tree
    Shout down your rain barrel
    Slide down your cellar door
    And we'll be jolly friends
    Forever more.

    Oh playmate, I cannot play with you
    My dolly has the flu
    Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
    Ain't got no rain barrel
    Ain't got no cellar door
    But well be jolly friends
    Forever more.

    But I'm sure I would have preferred "She might throw up on you," instead of the "boo hoo hoo" line!

    Reply
  7. Illyrian

    I learned this song when I Was in Kindargarten at the Laboratory School in Cheney, Washington. Miss Lang our teacher taught it to us. It had a catchy tune and all the kid liked it. That was in fall of 1939. Had to be 6 to go to Kindergarten in those days. Our learned version was the original as far as I know. Rain barrels, Cellar doors and all. Everyone had rain barrels, cellar doors and outhouses in those days.

    Reply
    1. Sandy

      Do you know the original singer?

      Reply
  8. Charles Siegel

    In addition to explaining what a rain barrel is, you also have to explain that the old-fashioned coal-cellar door was diagonal, so you can slide down it.

    Lots of the variations have them sliding down the rain barrel or rainbow INTO the cellar door. These are obviously people who don't know about the coal-cellar door that is perfect for sliding down.

    Reply
  9. Phlix

    I remember it from the 40's in Philadelphia, PA. It was sung while jumping rope as a cadence timer. I was looking for the lyrics to answer a request buy a reader of Farm and Ranch magazine.

    Reply
  10. Phlix

    I remember it from the 40's in Philadelphia, PA. It was sung while jumping rope as a cadence timer. I was looking for the lyrics to answer a request buy a reader of Farm and Ranch magazine.

    Reply
  11. Janet A

    We used to sing this as a cadence to hand clapping with a friend. Crystal Lake Ill, 1960s.
    Oh Susie Playmate was the person in the 1st verse and Sally Playmate was in the 2nd.
    Otherwise the song is the same as Anonymous comment from March 2011.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    cece my baby i can not play with you for i have got the flue, chicken pox and measels too.
    slide down that drain pipe into that sunny spot where we can play a lot forever more more more more shut that door

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    Our version had us sliding down a rainbow into the cellar door on Long Island in the mid 1970's

    Reply
  14. Anonymous

    Florida, mid-70s, we used to sing a second verse:
    See See my enemy
    Come out and fight with me
    And bring your bulldogs three
    Climb up my thornbush tree
    Slide down my razorblade
    Into my dungeon door
    And we'll be enemies
    Forever more, more… ten four!

    Reply
  15. Anonymous

    Playground version Christchurch Dorset 1990's

    cee cee my bonnie
    I can not play with you
    my sisters got the flu
    chicken pox and measles too
    [it] slid down drain pipe
    into a lump of poo
    we're be friends for evermore
    (tempo and melody changes at this point probably a different song)
    more more shut that door
    don't come back till half past 4
    if you do(or don't)
    you'll catch the flu
    and that will be
    the end of
    you

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    [it] slid down drain pipe

    typo
    should be
    [it] slid down the drain pipe

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    My mom sang this to me while i would play in the bathtub,
    and it wasnt that long ago, since im only 16.
    my mother was born in the early 60s though.
    she would sing it differently;

    Oh playmate,
    come out and play with me,
    and bring your dolly Dee.
    climb up my apple tree.
    play on my rain barrow,
    slide down my cellar door,
    and we'll be jolly friends,
    forever more more more.

    im sorry playmate,
    i cannot play with you,
    my dolly has the flu.
    boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo.
    aint got no rain barrow,
    aint got no cellar door,
    but we'll be jolly friends,
    forever more more more.

    Reply
  18. Don Fallick

    I never learned this song as a child, but my mother-in-law taught it to our children.exactly as Anonymous quotes it, except she said, "rain barrel." She was raised in Iowa in the 1910's, and said it was a song of her childhood.

    Reply
  19. Becca

    I learned this around grade 4 as a clapping game..

    C.C My playmate, come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    Climb up my apple tree
    Slide down my rainbow
    Into my cellar door
    And we'll be jolly friends,
    Forever more more, shut the door, dinosaur RAWR!

    .. I suspect the end bit about the dinosaur was just put there to have a conclusion for the clapping. This would have been 1999 ish, in Newfoundland Canada :)

    Reply
  20. Erin

    My grandmother taught this song to me in the 90's. We lived in Virginia but she had grown up in Wisconsin in the late fortiesearly fifties (I don't know where or when she learned it). I know it a little differently than any other comments have said, particularly the fifth line of the first verse, which actually makes the most sense this way, I think 😉 She also had a diagonal cellar door on her house, so we had no problem with that line. :)

    Say, say, my playmate
    Come out and play with me
    And bring your dollies three
    Climb up my apple tree
    Splash in my rain barrel
    Slide down my cellar door
    And we'll be jolly friends
    Forevermore, 1, 2, 3, 4!

    And the optional second verse went:
    Say, say, my playmate
    I cannot play with you
    My dolly's got the flu
    I think I've got it too
    I have no rain barrel
    I have no cellar door
    But we'll be jolly friends
    Forevermore, 1, 2, 3, 4!

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    Yorkshire, 1980s.

    CC My playmate,
    Come out and play with me,
    My mother's got the flu,
    Cicken pox and measles too.
    Slide down the drain pipe,
    On to the cellar floor,
    And we'll be jolly friends
    Forever more.

    Reply
  22. Damn it! Starfish!

    My friends sing this in class occasionally (btw we are a very childish bunch of 14 year olds) – I can only remember some of it
    Cee cee my play mate
    why wont you play with me
    my sisters got the flu
    chicken pox and measles too
    Cee cee my play mate
    why wont you play with me
    she don't play with baby toys
    she plays with sexy boys…

    Reply
  23. Damn it! Starfish!

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  24. Dara Waters

    I never heard the line, "slide down my rainbow, into my cellar door." I learned, "slide down my rainbow, into my fairy boat." Just didn't see that metioned here yet, and wondered if others had learned it that way.

    Reply
  25. misselissa

    My version was
    Say say little playmate,
    Come out and play with me,
    And bring your dollies 3,
    Climb up my apple tree.
    Slide down my rainbow,
    Into my cellar door
    And we'll be jolly friends,
    forevermore 1234

    I'm sorry playmate,
    I cannot play with you
    My dollie's got the flu
    She'll puke all over you
    Ain't got no rainbow,
    Ain't got no cellar door,
    But we'll be jolly friends,
    Forevermore 1234!

    I always thought it was supposed to be "dolly friends" but I guess it was "jolly friends"

    It was a fun song when we were in elementary school, a lifetime ago!

    Reply
  26. misselissa

    I learned the song in Pennsylvania in the late 60's, Franklin County.

    Reply
  27. Lynn Falconer

    Lynn New Zealand
    Dad sang to us in 1940's

    Hey Hey 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 fore evermore

    I'm sorry playmate I can not play with you
    my dolly's got the flu
    Boo hoo hoo hoo
    Ain't got no rain barrel
    Ain't got no cellar door
    But we'll be jolly friends for evermore

    Thanks every one for bringing that back!

    Reply
  28. Lynn Falconer

    Shouting down the rain barrel would probably echo and might make the water shake causing a distorted reflection of any image? a fun thing to do even now if one had a rain barrel!

    Reply
  29. Shadow

    By the time it reached my ears in 90s Australia we had an amalgamation of the two suggested verses, plus a little extra bit at the end. It was a clapping song.

    See see my play-a-mate
    I cannot play with you
    My dolly's got the flu
    And German measles too
    Slide down my rainbow
    Into my pot of gold
    And we'll be best of friends
    Forever more, more, kick out the door (Upon which each clapper would try and be the first to punch the other in the stomach.)
    The pot of gold seems to be the only relatively new bit, and that's a logical link with the end of a rainbow I guess.

    Reply
  30. Lucy Correia

    Early 60's in Montreal, Canada. We'd sing it as a clapping song between two girls. The version we sang is slightly different from most of the other ones but all the kids in the neighbourhood sang it this way:
    Playmate, come out and play with me
    And bring your do-olly
    Tee!Hee!Hee!Hee!Hee!Hee!
    Slide down my rainbow
    Into my cellar door
    and we'll be jolly friends
    forever more, more, more, more more.

    Reply
  31. rhonda

    We sang this song in the early 60s – Helen Baller Elementary School, Camas, Washington. I remember the tune and some of the words, and as I was collecting rain this winter for my garden the "rain barrels" made me recollect this song in bits. Today I Googled it, and here you are! Thanks for some fun memories!
    Rhonda Beatty-Gallo

    Reply
  32. Christy Burgess

    My mom and her sisters were riding in the car on their way home from school one day back in the '60s. Her and my aunt were singing this song, and their daddy (My grandpa of course) asked them where they heard that song… and they said they learned it at school. He told them not to tell anyone but he wrote those words as a poem when he was a little boy and presented it to his class. My mom said as popular as that song has become now… if we ever told anyone Pawpaw wrote those words, nobody would ever believe us.

    Reply
  33. Christy Burgess

    And he then joined in and sung it with them. He was a preacher for over 40 years and just passed away last month.

    Reply
  34. Marie McNamee

    I seem to remember this song with rather disturrbing words and maybe I got it completely wrong, but it went something like….

    CeCe my enemy
    Come out and fight with me
    and bring your Tommy Gun
    And we'll have lots of fun (!!!!)
    I'll scratch your eyes out
    And they will bleed to death
    And we'll be jolly good friends
    For ever more, more more more more

    Anyone else ever heard this (now that I think about it) disturbing version?

    Reply
  35. Marie McNamee

    I used to sing this version in the playground at primary school in the early 70s (goodness didn't realise I was that old!!)

    Reply
  36. katya bonthron

    mine always was
    cee cee come out and play with me
    climb up my apple tree
    slide down my golden key

    i'm sorry playmate
    my dollies have the flu
    they'll puke all over you

    Reply
  37. aja chowder

    The one i learned when i was younger was

    Say, Hey my playmate
    come out and play with me
    bring out your dollie Dee
    climb up my apple tree
    slide down my rainbow
    into your cellar door
    and will be jolly friends
    forever more

    OPPOSITE:
    So sorry playmate
    i can not play today
    my dollie has the flu
    she might throw up on you
    i have no rainbow
    into your cellar door
    but were still jolly friends
    forever more

    I also learned the hand movements that came with it

    Reply
  38. aja chowder

    The one i learned when i was younger was

    Say, Hey my playmate
    come out and play with me
    bring out your dollie Dee
    climb up my apple tree
    slide down my rainbow
    into your cellar door
    and will be jolly friends
    forever more

    OPPOSITE:
    So sorry playmate
    i can not play today
    my dollie has the flu
    she might throw up on you
    i have no rainbow
    into your cellar door
    but were still jolly friends
    forever more

    I also learned the hand movements that came with it

    Reply
  39. Unknown

    I learned this song from listening to it on the radio in the early 1940s. Two key lines that almost all of you younger folks are getting wrong are:

    "Shout down my rain barrel,
    Slide down my cellar door,"

    A rain barrel was a barrel positioned so as to catch the runoff from a gutter or downspout for the purpose of watering the garden. Shouting down it (if it was about empty) with your head slightly into the barrel provided a mildly amusing experience in the form of an echo. In those days most cellars were no accessible from the interior of a house; instead there was a pair of doors covering the entrance. The two doors were set at a slant, and met in the center, and if the slant was steep enough and the doors slippery enough, a very young child could be amused for a mwhile by sliding on them. We didn't have computers, cell phones, or TV, and some folks didn't have radios, though most did.

    In Maine you can still see homes with cellar doors as described, and rain barrels, too, still in use.

    Sliding down a rain barrel or a rainbow would have been meaningless.

    Reply
  40. vikingaccess

    The swing gate operator series are used to drive swing gates for industrial, commercial and residential uses.

    Reply
  41. pamfromnl

    Yes! This is the second verse I remember. Late 70's in Newfoundland, Canada. Thanks for the memories!

    Reply
  42. AndyB

    Your music teacher had it wrong when he said that rain barrels were better for washing your hair than shampoo. You still used the shampoo — but with rain water instead of well water.

    In the old days (pre-1950), shampoos were soap-based instead of detergent-based. The thing about soap is that it doesn't work well with hard water. It doesn't lather properly, and it doesn't rinse out completely. In much of the country, water from wells and springs contained minerals that made it "hard". If you were rich, you could install a water softener, but most folks used "soft" rain water collected in a rain barrel.

    Reply
  43. kiwipavlova

    Ireland (1980s)

    See see my baby
    Come back and play with me
    For I am lonely
    And I need your company
    Slide down my rainbow
    Into your paradise
    For I am lonely
    And I need your company

    Reply
  44. snow white

    This is the version my mother taught me in the 30s. She sang it as a little girl and she was born in 1909. I think the person who put their name to it as composer in 1940 plagiarized

    Reply
  45. CF

    our "naughty" second verse went like this

    Oh See See Oh Enemy
    Come out and fight with me!
    And bring your soldiers three,
    Climb up my poison tree.
    Slide down my razor blade,
    Into my dungeon door (variation: "Into my pool of alcohol")
    And we'll be jolly enemies,
    For ever more!

    St. Louis 1980s

    Reply
  46. Taylor Sartre

    I agree with you 100% I hope your post clears things up for everyone!

    Reply
  47. Martha Cole

    I googled this and discovered it was written in 1894 by someone named Philip Wingate.
    I remember my Grandmother singing it to me when I was a kid in the early 40's and she always started it with:
    Two little maids, both dressed alike,
    Blue gingham pinafores, hair down in braids,
    Stocking of red, sunbonnets on each head.
    Then it would go on to the refrain of
    See, See my playmate
    Come out and play with me.
    And bring your dollies three,
    We'll climb my apple tree.
    Holler down my rain barrel,
    Slide down my cellar door
    And we'll be jolly friends
    Forever more.

    Reply
  48. Memphis Cayne

    I recall this as a hand clapping game my friends and I would play when I was little (which was not all that long ago, which is surprising considering this song was written in the late 1890s and I was born in the mid 1990s). The version we sang was a lot longer though and gets quite dark and violent towards the end. It goes…

    Say Say oh 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
    Forevermore…more…more

    Say Say oh playmate
    I cannot play with you
    My dollies have the flu
    The mumps and measles too
    Can't shout down rain barrels
    Or slide down cellar doors
    But we'll be jolly friends
    Forevermore…more…more

    Say Say oh playmate
    Do not come play with me
    Don't bring your dollies three
    Chop down my Apple tree
    Fall off my rainbow
    And through my cellar door
    And we'll be enemies
    Forevermore…more…more

    Say Say old enemy
    Come out and fight with me
    And bring your dragons three
    Climb up my prickly tree
    Slide down my lightening
    Into my dungeon doors
    And we'll be enemies
    Forevermore…more…more

    Say Say old enemy
    Come out and fight with me
    And bring your BB gun
    And we'll have lots of fun
    I'll scratch your eyes out
    And make you bleed to death
    And we'll be enemies
    Forevermore…more…more

    Say Say old enemy
    I cannot fight with you
    My mommy said not to
    Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
    Can't scratch your eyes out
    Or make you bleed to death
    But we'll be enemies
    Forevermore…more…more

    Say Say old enemy
    Can't we be friends again
    Forget what happened then
    Replant your Apple tree
    We'll fix your rain barrel
    And then your cellar door
    And we'll jolly friends
    Forevermore…more…more

    Say Say old enemy
    Yes we'll be friends again
    But I won't forget back then
    We'll plant my apple tree
    And fix my rain barrel
    And then my cellar door
    And we'll be friends again
    Forevermore…more…more
    More…more

    There seem to be a lot of different versions of this song but this is the one I learned growing up in southern Mississippi in the early 2000s.

    Reply
  49. Mary Hopkins

    You are exactly right.

    Reply
  50. Mary Hopkins

    Not the original.

    Reply
  51. Unknown

    That is exactly how my Momaw used to sing it to me when I was a kid and I remember her explaining to me what a rain barrel was and she then did tell me how difficult it was back then. :-)

    I too prefered the sadder 2nd verse, but it was due to the Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo line. Haha

    I have taught my children the same verses and I expect when they have their own children this will be one that they pass on as well.

    Reply
  52. Mico Malo

    Say Say oh Enemy
    Come out and fight with me
    bring your pitbulls three
    climb up my dying tree
    slide down my razor wire
    into my cellar door
    and we will be jolly enemies
    forever more more more more more

    Reply
  53. Tami

    I learned
    Say say oh playmate,
    Come out and play with me,
    And bring your dollys three,
    Climb up my apple tree,
    Slide down my rain spout
    Into my dungeons door
    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever more more more 1,2,3,4

    I dont see anyone else who post this

    Reply
  54. Marika

    I grew up singing both:

    say, say, oh, playmate
    come out and play with me
    and bring your dollies free
    climb up my apple tree
    slide down my rainbow
    into my cellar door
    and we’ll be jolly friends
    forever more, more
    shut the cellar door

    and the parody:

    say, say, oh, enemy
    come out and fight with me
    and bring your daggers three
    climb up my poison tree
    slide down my razor blade
    into my dungeon door
    and we’ll be fighting enemies
    forever more, more
    lock the dungeon door

    Reply
  55. Anon

    Another variant from Baton Rouge, early 80s, sang by the boys as a sort of sick riposte to what the girls sang with their hand-slapping:

    See, see, my enemy,
    Come out and fight with me
    And bring your weapons three
    Climb up my thorny tree
    Slide down my razor-blade
    Into my alcohol
    And we’ll be enemies
    Forevermore-more-more-more-more!

    Reply
  56. sarah

    In NSW,Australia late 1980s we sang it accompanied by hand clapping. Our version was a bit different but I can see how it must have originated from the verses above.

    C c my playmate
    I can not play with you
    My dolly’s got the flu
    I think I have it too
    Slow down my rainbow
    Into my sailing boat
    And we’ll be jolly friends
    Forever more more moooore!

    Reply
  57. Teresa Braun

    I learned it like this!….
    Say say ol playmate come out and play with me and bring your dollies 3 climb up my apple tree. Come and slide down my rainbow into my cellar door, and we will be jolly friends for ever more more more shut the door! Oregon!

    Another good 1 is……
    I had a little turtle his name was tiny tim iiput

    Reply
  58. Stacy

    The version I learned from my mother, who learned it from her mother, started off with “Oh jolly playmate”. Also, instead of the “boo hoo hoo hoo” line in the 2nd verse, our version had “what can I do boo hoo”. We’re all from southern Alabama.

    Reply

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