Jim, This is a beautiful essay. I’m so glad you published it here. As a grandmother, I know exactly what you mean by that combination of me and not-me that we see in each generation. Did your grandfather sing you a song that began “Ridy, Ridy, Geily”? I’m sure I’ve misspelled it, since I never saw it in print. And I have a feeling that it is nowhere close to the original language.
Yes, this German nursery rhyme and game was very much a part of my childhood—and a tradition that I carried on with my children and grandchildren. For us it was “Huppe, Huppe, Reiter.” The child straddled the parent’s (or grandparent’s) foot, and held onto the parent’s hands. The parent bounced the child up and down in rhythm with the rhyme. At the end the child bounced high and fell off the pretend horse. There are many dialect versions, nearly all of which have a grim outcome. One of my favorite can be translated: “Huppe, Huppe, Reiter. Schimmel won’t go any farther. If he falls into the brush, he is eaten by the snails!”
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