Saturday, August 7, 2010


My brother asked me, "Do you remember that song Mom used to sing to wake us up?" I asked, "Which one--there were so many?" He said, "Good Morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip." I started singing it! He asked, "Did Mom make that up or was it a real song?" I told him, "I think it's a real song but I'll have to look it up!"

My mother's repertoire was astounding--everything from old folk songs and Broadway show tunes to the latest in Rock and Roll; she's the only person I know who loved Frank Sinatra AND Elvis!

She would end her folk songs with "Chatum-mun-toogey-perty-yay-hoo" and it didn't matter if it were "Barbara Allen" or "Old Dan Tucker" she was singing, it would end the same way! I have tried to find that riff in all kinds of folk song references, even the Alan Lomax tomes, to no avail. Mother told me that's how her Granny ended her songs. Sometimes she'd improvise and add "it's-a-perty-yay-hoo" along with the "chatum-mun-toogey".

When I instructed The Arthritis Foundation's water aerobics, I had a song lyric for each exercise; e.g.:

Baseball Swing--"Take Me Out to The Ball Game"
Touchdown--O.S.U. Fight Song
The Zipper--"Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"

One day, as we were doing The Zipper exercise, I sang "Good Morning, Mr. Zip-Zip-Zip" instead of the usual "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah", and one of our participants, Martha Hoffman, who will turn 95 on June 6, exclaimed, "I haven't heard that since I was a kid; how do you know that song?" I told her that my mother used to wake us up singing that song! Martha said "Well, she must be my age!" After class I researched it on the internet and learned it was from World War I, was used in the John Cassavetes movie "Husbands" and was parodied with a song titled "Good Morning, Mister Snip-Snip-Snip".


We come from ev'ry quarter
From north, south, east and west,
To clear the way to freedom
For the land we love the best.
We've left our occupations
And home so far and dear,
But when the going's rather rough,
We raise this song in cheer:

Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
With your hair cut just as short as mine,
Good morning Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
You're surely looking fine!
Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,
If the Camels don't get you,
The Fatimas must.
Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
With your hair cut just as short as,
Your hair cut just as short as,
Your hair cut just as short as mine.

You see them down the highway,
You meet them down the pike
In olive drab and khaki
Are soldiers on the hike,
As the column passes,
The word goes down the line,
Good morning Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
You're surely looking fine!

The reference to Camels and Fatimas are for cigarette brands!

1 comment:

Gail said...

I have not seen the 1970 movie 'Husbands' but when I researched it, I found that the song Goodmorning Mr. Zip-Zip-Zip was written by Robert Lloyd in 1918 and was given credit for his song in John Cassavetes' movie. Many great things from the past are still with us today.