Hopalong Peter

DESCRIPTION: Nonsense song. "Old mother Hubbard and her dog were Dutch/A bow-legged rooster and he hobbled on a crutch/Hen chawed tobacco and the duck drank wine/The goose played the fiddle on the pumpkin vine" and similar verses.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1937 (recording, Mainer's Mountaineers)
KEYWORDS: nonsense animal chickens drink wordplay
FOUND IN: US(MW,SE)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
BrownIII 160, "Get Along, John, the Day's Work's Done" (1 text, of only three lines, but two of them correspond to this song)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, pp. 104-105, "Hopalong Peter" (1 text, 1 tune)

ST CSW104 (Full)
RECORDINGS:
Fisher Hendley & his Aristocratic Pigs, "Hop Along Peter" (Vocalion 04780, 1939, on CrowTold01)
J. E. Mainer's Mountaineers, "Hop Along Peter" (Bluebird B-6752 [as Mainer, Morris & Sherrill?]/Montgomery Ward M-7131, 1937)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Hopalong Peter" (on NLCR10, NLCRCD1)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Hallelujah"
cf. "Johnny Fell Down in the Bucket" (technique)
cf. "I'll Rise When the Rooster Crows" (lyrics)
cf. "Hannamaria" (theme)
NOTES: Although most people who hear this song probably think this is about a lagomorph, probably a rabbit (thanks to Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit), this may not be the case. Pamela J. Chance of North Carolina knew about it from her father, Winton Lewis Chance of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (born July 27, 1920); his version gives the chorus as
Hop along a PeeDee, Hop along a PeeDee,
Where you goin'? Where you goin'?
She notes the following:
"[Winton Chance] was taught this song by his father, Floyd Alden Chance of Indiana when Win was a boy. Win's mom's name was Alma Nellie (Weber) Chance. The family lived in Napoleon, Indiana where they ran the general store and then moved to Muncie, Indiana. Alma ran a pie shop in Muncie from their home.... on the edge of the Ball State University campus. Floyd's side of the family was English, (possibly Scottish) and Alma's side German. Germans use the name 'PeeDee' or 'PeeDee dinks' for a small frog."
This might indicate a German origin for the song, but a similar word in fact occurs in English; according to Alexander Warrack, The Scots Dialect Dictionary, Waverly Books, 2000, p. 397, a paddock (also spelled puddock) is a frog or toad. There is even a version of "Frog Went A-Courting" titled "Puddy He'd A-Wooing Ride." So an original in which the word was "peedee" or perhaps "paddock" or even "paddy" is not unlikely, with that form later corrupted to "Peter."
A number of verses to this song rely on the "unexpected final word." For example, a common first verse runs
Old Uncle Peter, he got tight,
Started up to Heaven on a stormy night.
The road being rough and him not well,
He lost his way and he went... to...
(Chorus)
Hopalong Peter, where you going (x2)
Hopalong Peter, won't you bear in mind
I ain't coming back till the gooseberry time. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
File: CSW104

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