At the very end of Mama’s book, I Remember, she shared some songs and poetry which she had memorized. Here is a cute one that is also recorded in her father’s journal, Duncan’s Ledger:
I learned this from my dad when I was a little girl.
Mysteries of Anatomy
Where can a man buy a cap for his knee, or a key to a lock of his hair?
Can his eyes be called an academy, because there are pupils there?
Is the crown of his head where jewels are found?
Who travels the bridge of his nose?
If he wanted to shingle the roof of his mouth, would he use the nails on the end of his toes?
Can he sit in the shade of the palm of his hand, or beat on the drum of his ear?
Can the calf of his leg eat the corn off his toe?
If so, why not grown corn on his ear?
Can the crook of his arm be sent to jail?
If so, just what did he do?
How can he sharpen his shoulder blades?
I’ll be darned if I know, do you?
When Mama was a little girl, her family was very poor and moved alot so they didn’t have many books and seldom lived close enough to visit a library. So they memorized things like this. She says, I learned this from my dad when I was a little girl. I can picture her father going over and over this with her to help her memorize it. And I imagine as they did that, she might have questioned him about the meaning of some of it. “Where is the cap of my knee?” or “What is the bridge of my nose?” or giggled at the idea of corn growing in her ear!
And this is a tradition that Mama passed down to her children too. I had many more books than she had had, but she still spent time reciting poems like this to me and encouraging me to memorize the nursery rhymes and songs in my books.
One on one time spent with a child, helping them memorize something that they may be able to recall and smile about for the rest of their lives — and possibly teach to their children. The need for this way of learning may have been replaced by many other ways for children to learn today, but it is a source of great memories for those of us who experienced it.