I grew up in the South Bronx and East Tremont in the '70s and didn't think much of it until I was much older and met and spoke with many, many other people who did not grow up in the South Bronx and East Tremont in the '70s. For instance, most people didn't walk their dogs in empty lots while pretending to be great archaeologist as this was before Indiana Jones and nobody ever pretended to be a great archaeologist. Just like nobody ever was sorely disappointed when their dog cut open his foot on glass and was then banned from going on archaeological digs ever again.
This is the lot where I found the ancient living fossil, the pill bug, that I was sure would shoot me up to the top of the paleontology world (hey, I was 8-- archaeology, paleontology same difference)
When we moved from East Tremont and into the deep South. I would speak with a fake southern accent and tell strangers I met I was from the South. The South Bronx. It was an upward move as we moved into our very own house. And, I swear to God, this was the train I took and I got off at the very next stop, Elder Ave.
We were tough. Even our schoolyard chants were tougher than yours. I didn't know this until I was discussing schoolyard chants with co-workers later in life. We argued whether it was Miss Suzie or Miss Lucy who owned a steamboat. One co-worker thought it was cute how kids would work around curses but never actually say them-- because that would be a bad for an elementary school child.
I was, like, huh? We cursed all the damned time in my school yard. And some of my favorite chants were 'diss' chants. Like this one:
I hate to talk about your Mama, but she's in my class
She's got popcorn titties and a rubber ass
She's 99, she's Frankenstein
She's the fattest motherfucker on the welfare line.
There are alternate rhymes like:
I hate to talk about your Mama cuz she's a good old soul
She's got rawhide titties and a rubber asshole
She jumped out the window with a dick in her hand
Yelling, "Look at me nigger, I'm Superman!
To my utter surprise none of my non-Bronxonian co-workers had ever heard of this before. Nor had they heard this wonderful camp song that takes two people to sing. One to say "zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom" over and over again like a bagpipe and the other to sing:
Tickle me, tickle me you know where
Up my kilt and through my hair
If you don't tickle me in the right place
I'll pick up my kilt and I'll piss in your face.
That last one was, as I said, a camp song. Surely they didn't save all the nasty camp songs for us kids from The Bronx? I tried one more on them. The famous James Brown one. For sure they heard the James Brown one.
Went downtown to get a stick of butter
I saw James Brown shitting in a gutter
I took a piece of glass
And shoved it up his ass
Never seen a motherfucker run so fast!
Nope, nobody ever anally violated the Godfather of Soul in elementary school.
I'd like if anyone ever heard any of these songs to make a comment telling me so. Also, when and where. Because I'm nosy like that.