View Full Version : So...what IS "knick-knack", how do I play it, and do I have roll home after?

08-04-2010, 08:12 AM
Prompted by the resurrected* (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?goto=newpost&t=198323) and interesting discussion about "Who doing what to who when that weasel gets popped?" I got to thinking about the song/rhyme "This Old Man"

Version I know goes:

This old man
He played one
He played knick-knack on my thumb
With a knick-knack paddywhack
Give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home.

Further verses are

He played two
He played knick-knack on my thumb

Five/hive (which makes no sense)
Six/with some sticks
Seven/Up in heaven
Eight/on my gate
Ten/This old man will start again.

So...what is knick-knack? A dice game? Drumming? Something more sinister? As a kid I found this song really creepy in the same way "I Know An Old Lady (Who Swallowed A Fly)" was.

Who's the old guy, why's he drunk (I assumed "rolling home"="drunk"), what's knick-knack, how do you play it on someone's thumb, etc?

Anyone (paging Samclem!) have any ideas?

*Proof that the decision to not close old threads is good. Thanks guys! :)

08-04-2010, 08:21 AM
Not an answer, just a start. Google books, 1918

Folk song, counting song

08-04-2010, 08:46 AM
Should two be shoe?

Also, who will be the first to post the "It's a knick knack" Patty Black, give the frog a loan" joke?

08-04-2010, 01:24 PM
I can't answer what nick-nack is, but I don't agree that the phrase "rolling home" necessarily implies the old man was drunk. "Rolling ____" seems to have been commonly used simply to mean going. "Rolling home" and "rolling along" are probably the most common usages like this. You don't hear it so much any more. Do you remember the old camp song that ended, "Happy as the day when the counselors go away and we go rolling rolling home." I don't think those young campers were supposed to be drunk. I suspect it's meant to imply traveling in some wheeled vehicle.

08-04-2010, 01:40 PM
Should two be shoe?

Also, who will be the first to post the "It's a knick knack" Patty Black, give the frog a loan" joke?

Oh, me! It was the first thing I felt compelled to do when I read the thread title. Don't tell me Dopers are predictable.

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her name plate that the teller's name is Patricia Black.

So, he says, "Mrs. Black, I'd like to get a loan to buy a boat and go on a long vacation." Patti looks at the frog in disbelief and asks how much he wants to borrow. The frog says "$30,000." The teller asks his name and the frog says that his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger, and that it is OK, he knows the bank manager.

Patti explains that $30,000 is a substantial amount of money and that he will need to secure some collateral against the loan. She asks if he has anything he can use as collateral.

The frog says, "Sure. I have this," and produces a tiny pink porcelain pig, about half an inch tall. Bright pink and perfectly formed.

Very confused, Patti explains that she'll have to consult with the manager and disappears into a back office.

She finds the manager and says: "There is a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $30,000. And he wants to use this as collateral."

She holds up the tiny pink pig.
"I mean, what the heck is this?"

The bank manager looks back at her and says,
"It's a knick knack, Patti Black.
Give the frog a loan.
His old man's a Rolling Stone."

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