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Ducktails, bubbles replace grandma's cap and the Duke
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I am getting close to being a half-century away from my kindergarten days, but in some crazy way, I can still remember the songs and activities.

When it was time for a story, our teacher would make us sit “Indian-style” in the story area. The politically correct police have probably just issued a warrant for my arrest, but that’s what we called it. It involved sitting with our knees bent and our legs under each other.

I can remember that we used to do a little exercise to settle us down.

“Grandmother’s glasses, Grandmother’s cap. She folds her hands and places them quietly in her lap,” we would say, making circles of our thumb and index finger to create the glasses and a two-handed circle on our heads for the cap.

First of all, the politically correct crowd will go nuts over that. It certainly qualifies as some kind of age discrimination and, of course, no woman today wants to be called “grandmother.” They all seem to prefer the younger sounding “Nana.”

In addition, I guess few grandmothers in my era actually wore caps.

We also did a little fun thing about the Noble Duke of York.

“The Noble Duke of York, he had 10,000 men. He marched them up the hill and then he marched them down again. And when you’re up, you’re up. And when you’re down, you’re down. And when you’re only halfway up, you’re neither up or down.”

This was a chair sitting activity. When you said up, you stood up, and so forth.

The Duke of York today is Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, Andrew.

To the best of my knowledge, he doesn’t have 10,000 men. He also doesn’t have a wife. That was Sarah, Duchess of York and spokesmodel for a weight loss outfit. She marched out the door in 1992. According to the British press, she may not have had 10,000 men, but she apparently had more than one. That’s enough about that.

Additionally, don’t confuse the Duke of York with the more popular Duke of Earl, which would be Gene Chandler, who was looking for a Duchess to walk through his Dukedom.

To the best of our knowledge, Gene Chandler’s Dukedom was not the community called Dukedom that straddles the line between Graves County, Ky., and Weakley County, Tenn.

Now back to our original story.

Recently, I was at the Langston Chapel Elementary School in Statesboro. I saw a group of kindergarteners and learned something knew.

Anybody who has ever taught a group of kindergarteners knows that keeping them quiet and not touching each other, the walls or anything else is a challenge.

That’s where bubbles and ducktails come in.

Some really smart teacher somewhere came up with this unique idea. I asked some friends who have recent kindergarteners and they had never heard of them.

Let me clue you in: Bubbles involves puckering up your lips and filling your cheeks full of air to create make-believe bubbles.

On the other hand — or really both hands  ducktails require putting your hands behind your back and creating little tail feathers of a duck with your fingers.

If your cheeks are bubbles and your hands are ducktails, you are unlikely to be talking or touching anything.

For now, I think the whole idea is great.

A half century from now the politically correct will find they were offending either bubbles or ducks.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

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