Daddy's Gone to War: The Second World War in the Lives of America's Children

By William M. Tuttle Jr. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 8 Children Play War Games

Whistle while you work,
Hitler is a jerk,
Mussolini is a weeny,
And Tojo is a jerk. 1

Three blind rats, three blind rats,
Hitler, Benito and the Jap,
Started off with a yip and a yap,
And ended up with their tails in a trap.
Three blind rats. 2

Slap
The Jap
With
Iron
Scrap
Burma-Shave 3

WHETHER CHANTED while jumping rope or skipping on the way to school, or read from the ubiquitous Burma-Shave signs by the side of the road, for children rhymes became an important connection to the war. In their rhymes and jingles, children put words to age-old tunes as well as to those of more recent vintage, such as "Whistle While You Work" from Walt Disney's 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Related to rhyming and chanting was another of the children's homefront activities--telling war jokes. One of the homefront girls recalled that a popular joke among the boys was: What did the Germans say whenever a baby was born? "'Hotsy-totsy! Another little Nazi!'" The war inspired even little children's wit. A four-year-old boy was telling his little brother the Christmas story, but when he described Mary and Joseph's futile search for a place to stay, he changed the innkeeper's words to: "No, there's no room here. Don't you know there's a war on!" Mocking Hitler was popular among boys, who would comb "their forelocks

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