Utah History to Go
Rhymes Filled Children's Autograph Books
From War to war


World War I and Utah
Utah's Capitols
Herbert S. Auerbach, Renaissance Man
Utah's "Ugly Duckling" Salt Flats
Publicizing Bryce Canyon
The Last Indian Uprising
Home Industry 20th Century Style
Some 80 Utah Nurses Served in World War I
World War I Heroine Maud Fitch Lived in Eureka, Utah
Mexican Families and the Sugar Industry in Garland
The Development of Zion National Park
The Twenties
Artist John Held, Jr. Created Cultural Icons, 1920's
Media Development in Weber County
Silent Films Intrigued & Occasionally Offended
Coal Production Amid the Wars
Sheep Fueled 1920's Economy
Military Installations
Boxcars and Section Houses
Jack Dempsey Loved Fighting, Mining, and Cowboying
Radio in Utah Began in May 1922 on Station KZN
The Cigarette Ban of the 19020's Caused an Uproar
Prohibition Failed to Stop the Liquor Flow in Utah
Lawyer Ran For President on the Farmer-Labor Ticket
George Sutherland Served on the U.S. Supreme Court
Alice Stratton Feared and Made Fun of "Kaiser Bill"
Klansmen at a Funeral and a Terrible Lynching
President Harding's 1923 Visit to Utah
Growing Crops For the Cannery
Dinosaur National Monument
The Fathers of Capitol Reef National Park
Ogden's the Bigelow-Preserves a Historic Area
Philo T. Farnsworth's Invention
The Beginnings of Commerical Aviation
The White Book Road Guide
The Great Depression
Depression Memories
"Even Grasshoppers Were Starving" During Drought
New Deal Agencies Built 233 Buildings in Utah
"Alphabet" Agencies in Utah County
The Civilian Conservation Corps Was a Boon to Utah
The Civilian Conservation Corps
Marriner S. Eccles Helped Design FDR's New Deal
Reed Smoot and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 1930
Reed Smoot & America's Natural Resources, 1903-33
Children in the 1930's Hoped to Become Nurses & Pilots
Arches National Monument
A Labor Inspector During the Great Depression
Clean Clothes Blowing in the Breeze
Utah's Rosies in the War
Garfield County Airport Has Unusual Hangar
Marie Ogden Led Spiritual Group in San Juan County
Uinta Basin Group Trekked to the 1933 World's Fair
Helen Hofmann Bertagnole-"Utah's Queen of Swing"
World War II in Utah
How Trains Helped Win a War
The War Effort at Home
Topaz Relocation Center
Topaz: Japanese American Interned in UT During WWII
Japanese Agricultural Colony at Keetley
Utahn Survives the Attack at Pearl Harbor
The USS Salt Lake City Made History
Utah Naval Officer Died a Hero's Death at Pearl Harbor
Rhymes Filled Children's Autograph Books
Utah's Rosies Upshot
Women Workers and Housing Issues
World War II Claimed the Lives of Four Utah Brothers

Miriam B. Murphy
History Blazer May 1996

Fifty years ago a Salt Lake City schoolteacher, Marguerite Ivins Wilson, studied the rhymes Utah children wrote in their classmates' autograph books. She concluded that the rhymes reflected "both the spirit of the age in which they have been produced and the attitudes of the children" who wrote them. The material she studied came primarily from students in the fifth through eighth grades in schools from Weber to Wayne counties. It represented both rural and urban areas and in the Salt Lake City and Eureka, Juab County, samples a mix of ethnic backgrounds, including Mexican, Italian, Greek, Japanese, African American, Irish, Scandinavian, and Cornish. Despite this variety, Wilson found that "In general, the same types of rhymes were reported by all the children, and it seems that the variations in them are due more to individual attempts at originality than to anything else."

Girls submitted most of the rhymes, Wilson said, but that was expected. "Boys do write in the autograph books, although not as much as the girls, but for a twelve-year old boy to own a book and carry it around to be signed would mark him as a 'sissy' in most groups....Most of the verses which they do write are flippant and not particularly flattering," such as:

    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    You like Miss________,
    So phooey to you.

Variations on the familiar Roses are red verse came from every school. Usually the first two lines were as above and the final lines anything from a compliment (You are my best friend,/And I do mean you) to the unflattering (I know a donkey,/That looks like you) to the unexpected (Rain on the roof,/Reminds me of you,/Drip, drip, drip).

An amusing category of verses provided advice on marriage, husbands, and children. A two-liner popular among all children was:

    When you are married and have some twins,
    Call on me for some safety pins (or, alternatively, Don't call on me for safety pins).

Social historians might wonder at the home life that produced the following advice for a future wife:

    When you get married,
    And your husband gets cross,
    Take up a poker,
    And show him who's boss.

Humor shines forth in another verse sample:

    When you get old,
    And think you're sweet,
    Take off your shoes,
    And smell your feet.

Sometimes the writer describes herself:

    I'm not a Southern beauty,
    I'm not an Eastern rose,
    I'm just a little Western girl,
    With freckles on her nose.

The popularity of the autograph books in the mid-1940s when the verses were collected indicated to Wilson "the children who own and treasure them are not without sentiment, but what they write shows clearly the natural unwillingness of the modern adolescent to show it." She hoped the collection would be preserved and studied by folklorists and that further collection might reveal regional variations and changing patterns in different generations.

Source: Marguerite Ivins Wilson, "Yours Till--A Study of Children's Autograph Rhymes in Utah," Utah Humanities Review 1 (1947).


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