Monday, September 5, 2011

You Know It Isn't Like It Used to Be When......

A friend got involved with her grandchildren this summer in a way she and her husband wish they hadn't have been. Her daughter was going to be out of town during camp visiting day so this friend did all the requisite nosh purchasing and shlepped up to camp to spend the day. While they were visiting with their grandsons, said grandsons had the usual complaints about camp--you know, too rainy, the food sucks etc.. This friends husband laughed and said it reminded him of a song we all knew and loved back in the olden days. So he sang it for his grandsons and they loved it. They insisted that zaydie write down the words for them and help them learn it, which he promptly did.

Now fast forward a couple of days and these grandparents got a very upset telephone call from the camp. It seems that the grandsons taught the song to their friends in camp. One night at dinner, one the campers apparently weren't enjoying, during the umpteenth day of rain, the grandsons and their friends broke into their new song. The campers loved it; the administration didn't. They felt it wasn't the type of song that a frum young boy should be singing, that it was disrespectful. And, the administrator continued, the grandsons had the gaul to say that their grandfather had taught them the song, adding lying to inappropriate singing.

My friend's husband could have handled this in a number of ways but decided that straight out talking was best. First he told the camp that yes, he had taught the boys the song. Second, if he found out in any way that his grandsons had been disciplined for singing the song the camp director would find himself in court post haste. Third, he told the director to get a sense of humor. Fourth, he told the director that singing "non-Jewish" music was not an aveiroh.

Anyway, the director backed down and the storm passed. However, the children's parents, when informed of what had happened, made the decision that their kids were never going to this camp again.

No kinderlach, this is not the world I grew up in. Certainly not when Allan Sherman is looked at as a frumkeit issue. The song in question was written and performed by Mr. Sherman in 1963 and is entitled "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!" The lyrics are below. I leave it to you to decide just how and why this song is not appropriate.

Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh,
Here I am at Camp Grenada
Camp is very entertaining
and they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining.

I went hiking with Joe Spivy
He developed poison ivy
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner.

All the counselors hate the waiters
And the lake has alligators
And the head coach wants no sissies
So he reads to us from something called Ulysses.

Now I don't want this should scare ya
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember Jeffrey Hardy
They're about to organize a searching party.

Take me home, oh muddah fadduh,
take me home, I hate Grenada
Don't leave me out in the forest where I might get eaten by a bear.
Take me home, I promise I will not make noise or mess the house with
other boys, oh please don't make me stay, I've been here one whole day.

Dearest fadduh, darling muddah,
How's my precious little bruddah?
Let me come home if ya miss meI
will even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me.

Wait a minute, it stopped hailing,
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing,
Playing baseball, gee that's better,
Muddah Fadduh kindly disregard this letter.


reader said...

'Country Yossi' sings a parody of the song involved in one of his albums. So one can say that there is a 'Jewish version' of it. Perhaps if the zeide would have given the kids that recording, the story would have unfolded differently.

For his lyrics and other info, see the last post at

Anonymous said...

Aunt Bertha's embrace, LOL

tesyaa said...

It's a great song, and my kids' day camp even used the original version as a soundtrack for a slideshow one year.

efrex said...

Just be grateful that the grandfather didn't give the "year two" version of the song, which includes references to women's swimwear, eating food containing trefus, and Lenny Bruce...

The answer isn't to sue the camp, it's to remove campers from there post-haste until such time as the administration gets a clue. My rebbeim sang Allan Sherman songs. My friend the Lakewood kollel avreich sings Allan Sherman songs (often with me with his very bemused wife and children looking on - his knowledge of all the lyrics to "Seltzer Boy" apparently was not something she had previously experienced in their 8 years of marriage). To allow children to go to camp and not know "Hello Madduh Hello Fadduh" is a crime against humanity.

Allen said...

Not sure if it's a crime against humanity Efrex, but if being stupid is a crime, then this camp is definitely criminal.

I first learned this song IN camp, yeah a frum camp. Glad to hear the parents aren't going to be sending the kids back there. Lunacy should not be rewarded.

rescue37 said...

L'toeles harabim can you please name the camp. I want to make sure I never send my kids there.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

You know what happens when kids sing songs like this...

...they end up reading comic books! (rachmana litzlan)

Your loving Auntie said...

I am so proud that I taught you that song, Jameel, and I would do it again! It is a much more appropriate camp song than, say, The Cannibal King, or Sippin' Cider (not too bad)that we sang in Bais Yaakov Camp as kids. No one was too upset about those songs in those days, when people weren't very uptight and worried about their frumkeit.

G6 said...

LOVE that song!
Love Alan Shermann.
Love the sequel as well.
Hello muddah, hello faddah
I am back at Camp Grenada
And I'm writing you this letter
Just to say my compound fracture's getting better

No one here knows where my trunk is
And my bunk is where the skunk is
But the food here is improving
'Cause the little black things in it are not moving

Our camp nurse is quite a swimmer
She says swimming makes you slimmer
Her name's Mrs. Pellagrini
Have you ever seen a whale in a bikini?

All our bathrooms have such thin doors
Gee I'd wish they'd move them indoors
We're all tired of mother goose here
So next Friday night they're having Lenny Bruce here

Let me stay, oh muddah, faddah let me stay
I love Grenada every night the campfire's really keen
Oh ma please send some unguintine

Let me stay, up here in muddah nature's land
And tiptoe through the tulips grand
To leave would be a shame
Besides, I'd miss the poker game

Please don't worry, faddah, muddah
I'll take care of little bruddah
He plays ball here and he rows here
And I hope they teach him how to blow his nose here

He wakes up half past six hand
Goes directly to the quicksand
He was lonely, now he's better
He's like all of us except his bed is wetter

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

We still proudly own the LP! No turntable, though... ;-(