Gene, Gene, Made a Machine

If you’ve heard this rhyme in the last fifty years, you probably heard it as something like this:

Gene, gene, made a machine
Joe, Joe, made it go
Frank, Frank, turned the crank
Art, Art, let a fart
blew the whole damned thing apart!
It’s been fairly common in roughly this form since at least the early 1960s, but it’s a variation on an older one:

Gene, Gene, made a machine
Joe, Joe, made it go
Frank, Frank, turned the crank
His mother came and gave him a spank
Sent him over the river bank
That one was published — in The Clinique: a monthly abstract of the clinics and of the proceedings of the Clinical Society of the Hahnemann Hospital of Chicago of all places – in 1923. The last three lines were listed as a common taunt to be leveled at boys named Frank in a book of “New England Sayings” from 1894.
The “original” kept showing up in print through the 1970s, but some time in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the crew seems to have ditch Frank’s spank-happy mother and replaced her with Art, who brought even more trouble. Poor guys.

The above is a new entry written for the new ebook:
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  1. Anonymous

    As told by my dad and my aunt from Toronto, Canada, as early as 1950's, this version has a better rhythm and is more sing-songy than other versions I've heard:

    Gene, Gene,
    made a machine.
    Gene, Gene,
    a washing machine.

    Gene, Gene,
    made a machine.
    Joe, Joe,
    made it go.

    Gene, Gene,
    made a machine.
    Art, Art,
    lit a fart and blew the whole damn thing apart!

  2. Anonymous

    Fred, Fred painted it red
    Frank, Frank turned the crank

  3. James Davis

    My version,

    Now Gene, Gene, was really Keen,
    Was really smart, but awfully mean,

    And he didn't care for this guy named Frank,
    So he meticulously cooked up a devious Prank.

    Then Gene, Gene, made this Machine
    But couldn't make it go
    So down the road he hurriedly went
    To see his old friend Joe.

    Gene,Gene said Joe, Please make it go
    And make it go real fast, and
    for goodness sakes forget the brakes
    Cause it will stop when it does drop
    to the bottom of the Crevasse.

    So Joe, Joe, did really good,
    He hastily affixed and adjusted the hood.
    Then, "Joe" Gene said, "You I do thank"
    While looking down the road
    For this guy named Frank.

    Oh Frank, Oh Frank Please turn this crank,
    Gene with Frank did nag,
    Oh it's so neat and really sweet
    Just wait till I wave this flag.

    Then Frank did mount the Beast,(the Prank)
    Warmed his muscles and turned the crank.

    Away it did go and not very slow
    So down the hill he did fly,
    As mean Gene smiled and waved Good By.

    Then to Gene's great joy, that old Frank boy,
    Pushed heavily on a brake that was broke,
    As Frank realized too late his ultimate fate,
    Twas a really really mean Joke.

    Then Frank's heart did sink,
    When nearing the brink,
    and the "Danger" sign he did pass,
    He took his last words, "Gene, Gene You Fink"
    With him to the bottom of the Crevasse.


    Gene, Gene made a machine,
    Joe,Joe made it go,
    Frank, Frank turned the crank,
    and ran it over the river bank.

    James Davis Version

  4. James Davis

    This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. boingboingboing

    I remember this but not the line about Frank. However, it was a little bit taboo around our house. It was considered slightly disrespectful because my father's name was Art.

  7. Warner Carter

    A virtual machine (VM) is a simulation of a machine (abstract or real) that is usually different from the target machine (where it is being simulated on). running machine

  8. Mityahu Ben Keshet

    I remember this from the Police Academy movies. Zed (Bobcat Braithwaite I think his real name is) read this at a poetry reading in one scene.

  9. Mityahu Ben Keshet

    I remember this from the Police Academy movies. Zed (Bobcat Braithwaite I think his real name is) read this at a poetry reading in one scene.

  10. Zim Zam

    Never knew there was a schoolyard rhyme but the first time I heard a variant of this was on the infamous Gong Show of the 70’s.

    Host Chuck Barris would refer to a stangehand named Gene and say “It’s Gene Gene, the dancing machine!” whereupon Gene would bust a move. For some reason I suspected this saying was based upon something else.

    FYI Bobcat’s actual last name is Goldthwait (yes, thats spelled correctly)


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