Counting to 20

flossiejosuepaul49My grandmother Flossie Skaggs taught me how to count from 1 to 20 in a little jingle like this:

teen, tain, tether, feather, phipps
mathy, lathy, cathy, w, bodix
teen dick, tain dick, tether dick, feather dick, bumpit
teen bump, tain bump, tether bump, feather bump, junkit.
I memorized it and can still say it after all these years. Grandma Flossie grew up in the Barn Rock area of eastern Kentucky outside of Paintsville and close to Flat Gap. All these years, I thought I alone held this jingle, but a few minutes ago I googled the first few words and was surprised to find a blogger in Ireland who relates this jingle to Welsh! To see the connection, visit his blog: Many historians have written that eastern Kentucky was settled with immigrants from Ireland and Scotland. Perhaps their Welsh grandmothers tucked this little jingle in their ear before they left home.
In further research, I discovered a page from
Miscellaneous Notes and Queries with Answers in All Departments of Literature
published in 1885 by S.C. and L.M.Gould, Manchester, New Hampshire that links the jingle to Plymouth Indians who lived in New England. The editors give examples sent to them from individuals who said they learned it from the Indians.Text not available
(The photo above was taken in 1949: Flossie holding Jo Tooker with Sue and Paul.)
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One Response to Counting to 20

  1. patsi hughes says:

    Hello, I read in a earlier post you were from Roswell. I was born and raised there too. Small world. I am a painter, and paint the Hondo Valley when I can. I have been a gallery in Ruidoso.Actually I am working on a comission now. Just wanted to say “Hi” I was stunned when I read your blog. I will try the cornbread. Patsi Hughes

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