Archive for February, 2011

The Great-Granddad Game

February 21, 2011 4 comments

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Game.  My kids introduced me to it a few years ago.  The rules are pretty simple:  there is this game and as long as you don’t remember you are playing it, you win.  As soon as you become aware of it, you have just lost.  Announcing you’ve lost the Game triggers groans of  “awww, now I lost the Game!”   Well, perhaps due to the generation gap that comes with being parent to a teenager, I have found I have little interest in the Game.  I don’t care if I’ve lost, don’t find it all that amusing or compelling.  I just don’t get it; oh well. 

Parallel to this silliness has been my own Game I have played for years to terrorize my family.   I think it is the result of some sadistic genes I inherited from my dad, combined with 12 years of Catholic schooling.  We call it the Great-Granddad Game.

In an earlier post (see Musical Threads, I described my life-long love of music; how I used to really get into Music class in grade school, and lay awake at night singing my most favorite obnoxious songs.  Well Great-Granddad was one of those songs.  It has a sing-song quality that many folk songs have, as well as quaint and fun lyrics that a 1970’s child with a love of novelty would embrace.  (Think On Top of Spaghetti.)   Having kids years later, my childhood songs came flooding back, including Great-Granddad.  Remembering only a handful of the verses, I began to sing it again to amuse myself, to bring smiles to my kids faces, and to generally break up the tedium of the day. 

Somewhere along the line, however, this song wore a groove into my brain.  Now it pops into my head at random times, almost daily.   We’ll be cleaning up after dinner, talking about homework that needs to be finished, etc., and I’ll start softly singing: 

Great-Granddad when the land was young,

Barred his door with a wagon tongue,

He picked his teeth with a hunting knife,

And he wore the same suit all his life. 

This is usually received with groans.  The next stanza starts out promising:

Great Granddad was a busy man,

Cooked his grub in a frying pan… 

But then it trails off, because I don’t remember the next two lines (which drives me nuts, by the way).  However, this next stanza I know:

Twenty-one kids and not one bad;

They never got fresh with their great-granddad. 

If they had, he’d have been right quick,

To tan their hides with a hickory stick. 

If everyone hasn’t left the room by this point and I feel so inclined, I’ll finish up with the very last stanza, which I remember clearly: 

They grew strong in heart and hand,

Firm foundation of our land. 

Twenty-one kids and a great-grandson,

 And he has a tough time with that one. 

Usually I don’t sing all the above.  Sometimes I sing only the first line.  But, regardless, we’ve all lost the Great-Granddad Game. 

I found the song online, with somewhat different lyrics from the ones I remember.  Here’s a link to them in case you’re interested:
The tune is there too if you want to sing along 🙂
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