February 26, 2023

Bob Teevan

Nobody Likes Me

My New Year’s Resolution was to think about what I eat.

This postcard brings to mind a topic that a considerable number of us have just gone through – or are about to – the annual exercise of resolving to improve ourselves in the new year. Some six weeks ago we made promises to ourselves to eat less, or to eat better. A friend from the Colonies calls it, “… getting the chocolate back in the cupboard.”

With this in mind I chose this card for it can best be described as a ‘children’s card’ and who among us is more pure than a child making a promise or a resolution. It was likely marketed using the cuteness of the image and the sentimentality of the message. It was published by Reinthal & Newman of New York and issued in Great Britain by their local agent Charles H. Hauff.

The colorful image of two young children in a form of embrace is unsigned. The young boy appears pleased with his “capture” of a girl who seems to be tickled pink. Her rosy cheeks portray a simple joy that is reflected by the title on the card, “Somebody Loves Me. I Ain’t Going to Eat No Worms.” If that is the reward for ‘snaring’ the young man, then her delight is easily understood.

Everyone knows the “Going to Eat Worms” song. It’s a childhood ditty that is generations old and continues to be a favorite among the 3- to 5-year-old crowd.

For those who are unaware of the song,

“Nobody likes me, everybody hates me
I think I’ll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones
Eensie weensy squeensy ones
See how they wiggle and squirm!

Down goes the first one, down goes the second one
Oh how they wiggle and squirm!
Up comes the first one, up comes the second one
Oh how they wiggle and squirm!

I bite off the heads and suck out the juice
And throw the skins away!
Nobody knows how fat I grow
On worms three times a day!

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me
I think I’ll go eat worms!
Big fat juicy ones
Eensie weensy squeensy ones
See how they wiggle and squirm!

The song was released as a single in 1976 by the English punk band ‘The Boys’ and in an online forum, some contributors believed that single was the source of the song. My wife knew the song before 1976 and other contributors remembered the tune going back to their 1947 childhood. That’s fine, but it much predates 1947; this card was mailed in August 1912.

An early citation came from a 1905 postcard, although experience tells us that postcards mimic phrases more than invent them, so let’s suspect that a music hall performer was singing this song at the turn of the twentieth century.

Yet this possibility was discovered: the phrase (not the song) is in the Staffordshire Sentinel and Commercial & General Advertiser of February 24, 1877, where there is a report on a proposed Cookery School. The article is lengthy and was delivered with humor – and in a very patronizing tone – by a man to a mostly female audience. The suggestion is that the women should spend more time learning how to prepare better and varied food for their hard-working husbands. It included the following –

“. . . Mr. Buckmaster said it would be better if people would give up singing “Rule Britannia” while they learned how to boil potato. After orating at some length on the boiling of potatoes, on the making of bread, and the use of macaroni, he said he once went to the trouble to prepare a nice dish of the latter for a poor woman, who rewarded him by saying. “Oh, no; I ain’t come to that; I ain’t going to eat worms!”

It is with some irony noted that the card was posted to Miss K Veal at 1 Vine Cottage, Lyndhurst in Hampshire, England. It was sent by ‘Uncle Frank,’ and he wished Miss K a Happy Birthday.

In the 1911 census, a 7-year-old Kathleen Veal was living at this address with her father and mother, Walter and Emily Veal. Nine-year-old Kathleen was their only child. The good news was that Kathleen Veal lived on to marry Ernest Charles Cardy in 1937. Some two years later – at the time of the National Register – they were living in Knellers Lane, Brierley where 38-year-old Ernest was a builder’s helper. There is no way to learn what  kind of life a handyman and his wife would live, but it is doubtful that they would be forced to eat worms. In the end, it was the Knellers Lane address where the little girl who received this featured “birthday” card was living when she died on December 4, 1986.

So, concerning my resolution to eat better. I hope I am. And, I am also resolved to better look after my wife for the consequence of losing her love over a diet of worms would be unthinkable . . . no matter how squishy they may be.

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I have never heard of this worm eating song. Then again I am a little more ignorant of many nursery rhymes & such. With this one I can state I am more than happy to be ignorant of it. 😮🤪😊

Last edited 1 month ago by George Shafer

Before purchasing the card I had heard of the ‘Going to Eat Worms’ song although mainly through my daughter who is a Children’s Nursery Practitioner. I was however surprised to learn that both my wife and daughter knew the song from their respective childhoods. I’m often surprised at song lyrics although eating worms is a bit extreme.

I was born in 1959, and as a child learned the “I think I’ll go eat worms” line, although not the rest of the ditty.

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