Helen Moser

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riddles, school rhymes, counting games, buttons, sayings, salt, Candlemas, Pennsylvania Dutch dialect


A handwritten letter from Helen Moser addressed to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dated January 25, 1954. Within, Moser provides details of old schoolhouse rhymes and games as well as sayings she remembers from her childhood.


Helen Moser


Alfred L. Shoemaker

Corresponds to:

Packet 410-22 to 410-23


Bally, Pennsylvania


Jan. 25th 1954

Bally, Box 91 Pa.

Dear Sir:

I have been a silent listener for quite a while but I have not been sleeping all the time, I have been thinking if I still knew something that would be of interest to you and I came across a few rhymes. Here is one I heard a man say. When I went to school we had to say a piece every Fri. afternoon and this is what one of the boys said one day.

Unser bussie hut der schnubba won do es nat glavva wit, Kunsht hame kumma gucka.

And this is what I heard one of the girls say in my school when we were short of something.

De mommy kucha bocked het won se male kot het wons net om fett g'failt het.

And here is the way we used to say that Schloof bobbli,

Schloof bobbli schloof
Der Dandi hiet die schoof
Die mommi melked die rooda kil,
Die sthana (stand) im dreck bis on de knea (knees),

And here I guess is something new I never heard you talk about. That is counting of buttons on a dress or shirt or anything you have on coat sweater etc. For a girl we would count. Ladie, shlip, shlop, and so we repeat down the line of buttons to the last one and if that was ladie we were a ladie if shlop then a shlop. If we could get a boy to count off we would say Gentleman, beddlemon, deep thief and so down the line of buttons and whatever the last one was that we would say he was. It was a lot of fun.

You were asking about the sayings or sounds of the birds call or song I cannot help you out with that. But I can tell you what we say if the coffee is strong. You have no ans. to it as yet.

Der is yo so shtarick er kent yo en oi dramya.

It is so strong it could carry an egg

The farmers used to make their brine so strong with salt to cure their meat that it would carry an egg or a potato I guess that is where they got it from to say so.

In the Feb. 1950 Pa. Dutchman were the following Candlemas saying I had send in.

Lichtmess, schpinna fergess Halb gfress dawg tsu nacht essa.

Lichtmess schpinna fergess Rischt dich fer dawg tsu nacht essa.

Lichtmess schpinna fergess Schtroo un hoi halver.

That is all for this time I must do some thinking and hunting again.

Your Friend

Helen Moser

Bally, Box 91 Pa.


English and Pennsylvania German

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Letter From Helen Moser to Alfred L. Shoemaker, January 25, 1954



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