Fidel Castro Was His Name We Hear

Here’s a reader submission of a song to the tune of “Casey Jones” (well, actually to the tune of the parody of Casey Jones that was used in a Good ‘n’ Plenty commercial). Debra, who submitted it, knew it in the late 1950s-early 1960s in the Bronx. It apparently wasn’t known all over New York City, but was “practically an anthem” on Hull Avenue. “It’s incredibly insensitive and homophobic,” she says, “but we thought it was the height of sophisticated humor back then (when we were ten):”

Once upon a time there was a Cuban queer

Fidel Castro was his name we hear
He had a country and he sure had fun
He used guns and ammunition to make his people run
Castro says, “Love Nikita Khruschev”
Castro says, “Wish he’d go to hell”
Castro says, “Love Nikita Khruschev,
Don’t know any other commie that I like so well.”

For the record, I asked Debra if she or her friends had any idea what “queer” meant at the time. “It was a schoolyard slur,” she says. “The boys might have had a vague idea (‘born in New York’ didn’t necessarily translate to ‘worldly wise sophisticate’ in those days), (but) I didn’t know what the F word meant until I was nearly fourteen, and even then, the whole thing was couched in mystery. Ah, them were the days – maybe.” 
Another version found on a message board, said to have been made up in Brooklyn in 1960, with minor variations:

Once upon a time there was a Cuban queer
Fidel Castro was his name, we hear.
He had an island
And he sure had fun:
He used bullets and machine guns to
make the people run!
Fidel says:
Love Nikita Khruschev!
Fidel says:
Love that bald-headed Russian!!
Don’t know any other commie
that I love so well!

This seems to be well remembered as a Bronx/Brooklyn sort of rhyme. My basic read on it is that, q-word aside, it’s probably a bit too sophisticated to have been written by kids initially; this strikes me as one that probably got started in the military or ROTC and filtered down. Though there’s certainly some homophobia implied in thinking of “queer” as an appropriate slur, I don’t really think homophobia was the point so much as finding a slur or any sort that could rhyme with “engineer” in the original song. It could have just as easily been something racial, or even just some synonym for something as harmless as “slob” or “loser” or even “turkey” if one of those words had rhymed as well.  Here’s the commercial that inspired the song:

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