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Goodnight Mama Goodnight Papa??

4 years 10 months ago #626 by ArchiveForum
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I am delighted that someone contacted me re: Topsy.
My father was born in 1911 in Dublin Ireland and his mother sang this song to him and his sister. I recorded a version of this song and changed it slightly to Sweet Dolly Named Topsy and the last line changed to, and I make her so sparkling clean. I have a children's CD and my web site is www.piecesofcarmel.com and you can hear a small sound bite of it for the melody and the words are posted when you click on. My cousin Norman Teeling helped to write an additional verse. I noticed today is the anniversary of the Easter Rising and Norman is an artist who has 10 pictures on display at the GPO in Dublin. Check it out on his site www.normanteeling.com He and I remembered parts of the song and I know I changed Black Dolly and the last line from I can't make her white like me. Times have changed and I didn't want to lose the memory of my father singing it to me. He passed away 14 years ago. When I was in Ireland in 2005, I asked my cousins and they said the line Bogey and not white shadow. My Dad changed it so I guess he didn't want to frightened me but when he sang, I can't make her white like me. He sang it so low that it was great that he hit that low note. My daughter recorded it after I did and I haven't posted her song on my site but it's wonderful. Thank you to Jason for asking and actually finding me on this World Wide Web. I live in California and my Dad's greatest dream was getting over here. I have tears in my eyes and I am so happy that this song is being remembered. He also sang a song right after that was Go to Sleep My Baby, Close your big Blue eyes. The Angels are above you watching from the Sky... There's a great big moon above you, stars peep down with glee, now it's time for all the pretty babies to go to sleep. I've never heard since. I was wondering as lots of you if it's an Irish Lullabye and I believe I gave the Irish the credit for Topsy.

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4 years 10 months ago #627 by ArchiveForum
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My Nana used to sing us this song, but with slightly different words (again) from those that are on this site. However, it does mention the 'white shadows', just as is mentioned earlier. Nana was from Kent, and born in the early 1900s.
I have a little black dolly called Topsy,
who doesn't like sleeping alone
'Cos Topysy's afraid of white shadows,
though I'm perfectly sure there are none.
But Topsy is only a dolly,
And as frightened as frightened can be,
So I just pop her under my pillow,
For I know she likes sleeping with me.

And when I wake up in the morning,
I sing till I think she's awake
Then I take her out into the garden,
And give her a wash in the lake.
But Topsy is blacker than ever,
And as shiny as shiny can be
So I just pop her under my pillow
For I know she likes sleeping with me.

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4 years 10 months ago #628 by ArchiveForum
Replied by ArchiveForum on topic Goodnight Mama Goodnight Papa??
Really pleased to find this dialogue!

My Mum used to sing this to us having learnt it from her mother growing up in Southall, Middlesex. Her lyrics are exactly like the second posting but in present tense:

'I have a black dolly called Topsy, who doean't like sleeping alone,
Cause Topsy's afraid of her shadow thought in darkness I know there are none,
But Topsy is only a dolly and doesn't know better you see
So I just put her under my pillow, I know she likes sleeping with me.

When I wake up in the morning, I lie till I think she's awake,
And then we go down to the garden and I give her a bath in the lake,
But Topsy is blacker than ever, as shiny and shiny can be,
Though I scrub her and scrub her and scrub her, I can't get her white like me.'

It's a family joke now how racist it seems, but as someone's mentioned the message is of course the opposite of racist - about accepting and loving people who at first seem very different but can be your best friend anyway. I'll have to think about whether I sing it to children I have, but probably will after some contextual discussion! In fact, I referred to it in my degree dissertation at Uni about images of black people in children's literature. I was discussing how stories and cultural traditions like Topsy and Little Black Sambo are in themselves harmless and were often the only way that white kids growing up in all-white communities would be introduced to and develop an affection for black people, but sadly wider social forces and abuse of them burdened them with so much racist baggage they could not be enjoyed or passed on innocently any more. Thanks everyone for your contributions - isn't the internet amazing? You really can find everything!

This seems to be a very widely known song, so must have been recorded by someone in the past to become so well-known amongst the World War 2 generation that they used it as a lullaby. Keep hunting folks!

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4 years 10 months ago #629 by ArchiveForum
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Thank you to every one who Put the words down to the Topsy song . My grandmother was born in 1893. she emigrated to Australia as a WWI war bride and used to sing it to me . I have been trying to remember it even though it is no longer politically correct .
However my granny's version ends with I think" I scrub her and scrub her and scrub her , but still she never looks clean .....

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4 years 10 months ago #630 by ArchiveForum
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my mum used to sing it to me, her mum also to her, possibly her mum to her also? we were all born in australia, my grandmother in the 1920's. i can't remember all the lyrics (i'll ask my mum if she remembers more!) but i do remember the
doesn't like sleeping alone
...but Topsy is only a dolly and doesn't know better you see
So I just put her under my pillow,
I know she likes sleeping with me

and

i can't get her white like me

i used to love that song, i can't believe someone else had heard of it!!

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4 years 10 months ago #631 by ArchiveForum
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My Grandma used to sing this song to me and my mum's grandma used to sing it to her. It is a family favourite with my children. All these generations are Australian with that side of the family originating in Scotland.

My version goes:

I've a little black dolly name Topsy who doesn't like sleeping alone.
For Topsy's afraid of white boobies though I'm perfectly sure there are none.
So I'll just pop her under my pillow for I know she likes sleeping with me.
And when I wake up in the morning. I'll take her right down to the lake, and I'll rub her and scrub her but I can't make her white like me.

It would be great if someone had the music.

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4 years 10 months ago #632 by ArchiveForum
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My Irish grandmother, who was born in County Wexford, and lived from 1889-1974, sang this to me when I was a child. This is how her version went:

I've a little black dolly named Topsy
Who doesn't like sleeping alone
For Topsy's afraid of white boogies
Though I'm perfectly sure there are none
But Topsy is only a dolly, and doesn't know better you see
So I'll just put her under my pillow
For I know she loves sleeping with me.

And when I get up in the morning
I sing til I think she's awake
Then I take her out into the garden
And I give her a bath in the lake
But Topsy looks blacker than ever
And shiny as shiny can be
Though I wash her and wash her and wash her
She'll never be white like me.

And the music goes:
e f g a g g a b c(high) g
f e f e g f e d
e f g a g g a b c(high) g
a b c(high) b a a b a g
g f e f a g f e g
g a a a a b c (high) b
g g c(high) g e c(high) b a g e
g c(high) g e f d c

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4 years 10 months ago #633 by ArchiveForum
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I am also lookin for the lyrics of a song called My Old Claddagh Rings or Claddagh Rings, it an old Irish Song from the country and my grandmother told me it was about an Irish Wedding.

The title may be a it wrong, but its something like it, I looked up a site called www.claddagh-rings-specialists.com but they didn't have the words anywhere on it.

I would love to learn the song, as I want to sing it at my daughters wedding in July 2011.

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4 years 10 months ago #634 by ArchiveForum
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Just found this dialogue after trying for years to remember the middle lines of 'Topsy.' the lullaby my father (not mother!) used to sing me as a child during WW2. Couldn't remember the middle lines but those posted by Peterpainter way in 2008 are the ones. Thanks so much. Brings back such happy memories. All my folks are gone now and nobody else had ever heard this song. Didn;t think I wouid ever anything on the net becsuse of the racist element. I had 'a little black dolly' whom I loved and called Topsy because of thensong, and I asked for a baby sister just like her. The philosophy of songs like this, far from being racist meant that you loved without even thinking such nonsense.. Thanks for the memory. Ain't technology wonderful!!!Eilidh.

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4 years 10 months ago #635 by ArchiveForum
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We're having a fb conversation now about the inappropriateness of 'Jesus Loves the Little Children',
All the Children of the World
Red and Yellow, Black and White
They are Precious in His Sight..."

... and my sister recalled our mum singing "I Had a Black Dolly Named Topsy"... so I googled it... here's 'our' version:

I had a black dolly called Topsy, who didn't like sleeping alone,
She says she's afraid of white bogeys, although I am sure there are none,
But Topsy is only a dolly and doesn't know better you see
So I put her right under my pillow, for I know she likes sleeping with me.

And, when I wake up in the morning, I lie till I'm sure she's awake,
Then I take her right down to the garden and I give her a dip in the lake,
But Topsy is blacker than ever, as black as black can be,
Though I scrub her and scrub her and scrub her, I can't make her white like me.

btw, we're British Columbians... my mum was from Kingston, ON and her ancestry is Scottish.

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