Reprinted in AppLit with permission, from the James Taylor Adams Collection
U of Virginia's College at Wise/Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College

Collected by James M. Hylton

Wise, Virginia 

NOTE: This text was recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams (1892-1954) kept typewritten copies of the folklore he and others collected during the last thirty years of his life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. Typographical errors in the original have not been corrected, except for some obvious errors in spacing. There are many other songs, games, and rhymes recorded in the archive of the James Taylor Adams Collection.

This song is sung by Jean Ritchie on her CD Childhood Songs (Port Washington, NY: Greenhays Recordings, 2001). It is one of the songs on this CD that Ritchie remembers from her childhood, ages 6-8 (around 1930, Viper, KY). Her words are very similar to the ones recorded below from VA. She notes that "all us girls would play ring games on the school ground." They would try to distract the uninterested boys from their marbles by calling out names in this kissing game. Although Mr. Hyden of Lee and Wise Counties reported that boys liked this game in his childhood (around 1875), the girls at Ritchie's school would choose a girl from the circle (occasionally calling a boy's name while choosing one of the girls), swing each other around "(two-hand swing, skipping)" and quickly kiss on the cheek at the end. The other singing games Ritchie describes in detail in the CD notes are "Golden Ring Around the Susan Girl," "Old Raggy," and "Hunt the Cows." (See also "Swapping Song" for discussion of this CD.)

James M. Hylton  

8 Lines

Wise, Virginia.

 (Group Gatherings, Activities, Playparty Songs)

100 Words

Related to this Writer by Mr. And Mrs. Robert Lee Hyden, Wise, Virginia in their home East of Wise during a visit on Monday February 16, 1942. Mr. Hyden who is 73 years old and a son of Wallace and Catherine Hyden now deceased and who lived and made their home near Jonesvill, Lee County, Virginia. They were both natives of that section, being born and reared there. My Hyden was born about 1 mile out of Jonesville in the year 1868. For the bigger part of his life he has been a farmer, although he has done considerable work on the Public Works in both Counties of Wise and Lee at times. He lives with his wife Mary Williams Hyden in their home just beyond the Wise High School on East Main Street, Wise, Va. Mr. Hyden remembers the first pair of suspenders that he ever saw in his life, he says, that one day his Grandfather, old Uncle Billie Woodward called him down to a big gate and gave him a new pair, at the time he (Mr. Hyden) was only about five years of age. Old Uncle Billie, Mr. Hyden reminds me was a half Indian with long black hair and chart [sharp?] features with piercing eyes and high cheek bones. Mr. and Mrs. Hyden are the parents of eight children-four living and four dead. Fate played a funny move with their family. The first two children to be borne to the couple were girls, the next two were boys, the third two were girls again and the last two were boys. And now as they look back over the years they see that the first and the last two are dead, while the second and third two are still living. During a long and interesting interview with them in their home this date they recalled many of the older Tales, songs and Ballads that they heard, played or sung in their earlier days themselves. Below is the "version" of "Jenny Put The Kettle On", or as most of the older people remember as "Polly Put the Kettle On". It is a game and while the game is being played the participants march round they al- sing the sing.

"Jenny Put the Kettle On"

Jenny put the kettle on, the big and little one.
Jenny put the kettle on, an' we'll all take tea.

Slice your bread an' butter up fine, fine enough for eight or nine.

Choose the one you love the best and call them on the floor.

Oh ___________how I love you, nuthin on earth I admire above you,

My heart you've gained, my right hand I'll give you,

One sweet kiss and then I'll leave you.

Jenny put the kettle on, an' we'll all take tea.


To play this game a ring or circle of persons are formed round and as they begin to sing the song the one who has been chosen as Jenny is in the middle of the ring. The person is chosen and their real name is called such as: "Oh Johnie, how I love you" etc. Then the game is gone over agin and again as most games of this type are played. They play as long as they wish and go around as many times as they wish.

Mr. Hyden recalls when he used to play this game and says it was one of the many games they liked to play best during his younger days. They game was popular and everyone nearly knew how to play it. J Hylton.


Replacement photocopy made by BRI, 9/1992

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