Nursery Rhymes’ True Meaning

When I think about my childhood, I think about one particular book that I still have. I remember my mother reading the book to my sister and I.

It’s a book full of various Grime Brother’s fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

The Grime Brother’s tales are a little dark for a young child, so I naturally connected to the nursery rhymes and the songs that are tied to them.

The thing about the seemly innocent nursery rhyme songs is that there is a dark meaning to most of them.

Mary Mary Quite Contrary


Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

(Courtesy: Mary Mary Quite Contrary)

This nursery rhyme is about Bloody Mary. Yes, Bloody Mary, or Mary Tudor, was the daughter of King Henry the eighth and was the Queen of England from 1553-1558.

Queen Mary was a devote Catholic and wanted her subjects to follow the religion.

Queen Mary is known for torturing and executing over 300 of England’s citizens who were Protestants, people who follow a Christian faith that was against the Roman Catholic Church.

From the nursery rhyme, Silver Bells and Cockle Shells are torture devices that Queen Mary was known to use on her victims.

Silver Bells

Silver Bells

Cockle Shells

Cockle Shells

Ring Around the Rosey


Ring around the rosy
A pocketful of posies
“Ashes, Ashes”
We all fall down

(Courtesy: Ring Around the Rosey)

This nursery rhyme is about the Great Plague of London from the 1300’s to 1665, which is also known as the Bubonic Plague or the Black Death.

Rats were the ones that caused the spread of the disease because the rodents had access to the water supply. Symptom of the plague is a red rash that is shaped like a ring on the skin and violent sneezing.

Over 60 percent of people were killed from the plague, so “Ashes Ashes” is a reference to the dead being cremated.

The only reason the Great Plague was wiped out was because of the Great Fire of London in 1666, which killed most of the rats that carried the disease.

To learn more about the fire, you can read it here.

Plague Doctor

1500’s Plague Doctor in “Bird mask”

Jack and Jill


Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.

(Courtesy: Jack and Jill)

This is not about a boy named Jack and a girl named Jill falling down a hill.

Jack is a reference to King Louis the eighth when he got beheaded. The beheading happened during the Reign of Terror in 1793, which was during the French Revolution.

Jill is a reference to Queen Marie Antoinette, who was beheaded after King Louis. She was on trial and found guilty in the involvement of the Diamond Necklace Affair and sexually abusing her son, the dauphin.

Diamond Necklace Affair

Diamond Necklace


Troy University Traditions and History

This week’s blog post is about something closer to home…well, my home.

I am attending Troy University and I found out that Troy has some history and traditions.  Troy University was founded on February 26, 1887 and was called Troy State Normal School, where it was a place where students were being trained to be teachers for Alabama schools.

Troy is naturally an older school with a lot of traditions that have been built over the years and even some “haunted” places.

The Kissing Rock

On the main quad, there is a big, yellow rock between the McCartha and Bibb Graves buildings that is called The Kissing Rock. The tradition is that if a couple stands over the rock and shares a kiss, than they will have a long relationship.

In 1987, The Palladium, Troy University’s yearbook, even took a picture of one couple making a kiss agreement and sharing a short story about their love.

I just hope the rock actually works!

Sailing Course

On the north side of the campus, there is a large lagoon that once held a sailing class. Yes, in the summer of 1938, Lake Lagoona was where students could learn to sail for a grade.

I’m not sure how long that class lasted, but I’m sure that would be popular today.

Rosa Parks Library and Museum

Troy University has campus all over the world and there are actually three of those campuses in Alabama. There is a campus in Phenix City, Montgomery and Dothan.

Near the Montgomery campus, there is a Library and Museum dedicated to Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks Library and Museum actually got constructed where the December 1, 1955 incident happened, when Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat to a white man and was arrested for it.

Sorority Hill

I’m going to talk about a place that even kind of chills me.

It is not on the main campus, but is located at Sorority Hill on Elm Street. According to an article from the Tropolitan, the school’s newspaper, The Alabama Baptist Children’s Home sheltered orphans on Elm Street for decades.

There are rumors that some of the children died while staying at the orphanage. One of the rumors says that a child was killed in a bathroom at the building that known as Phi Mu house.

 Good Luck Memorial Plaque

This one took me forever to try and find.

At the newly built campus dining hall, there is a plaque dedicated to Foy Ingram Cummings. According to the Tropolitan, Cummings was a former professor for the department of education and psychology and was loved by the staff and the students she taught.

On the plaque is the face of her four grandchildren with a description that says, “Her love was her children.”

The faces have become a luck charm because students would rub their nose on the one of the children’s nose for good luck.

The plague was originally at the Trojans Center, but was moved to Foy Fountain on October 3, 2015 and the wish for good luck lives on.

If you would like to see what these places look like now, check out my slideshow video: