Like Jackie Gleason or is it a Duck Duck Grey Duck Thing?

So I was watching the old Rankin & Bass “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” special on TV tonight, because of course I did. Though as far as the Rankin & Bass specials go, I have to say “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is my favorite not only because ol’ Kris Kringle is a ginger and I love them gingies, but also because I think Burgermeister Meisterburger is the best villan name of all time.

When we were kids and we’d sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” we always added little asides to the song. For instance after the line “they never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games” we’d add “LIKE POKER!” It was usually shouted gleefully.

At the end of the song we’d sing “You’ll go down in his-tor-eeeeee” and add “like Jackie Gleasonnnnnnnnn.” This Jackie Gleason was usually accompanied by some jazz hands and lots of vibrato on that drawn-out Gleason.

So as I was watching the show I got to thinking. Damn, I wondered, do kids still say go down in history like Jackie Gleason, because that’s a pretty dated reference. And then I thought, well that was a pretty dated reference when I was singing the song back in the early 80s. Where in the hell did that come from?

Then I got to Googling and I can’t seem to find any reference to adding that “like Jackie Gleason” to the end of the song. Is this a Minnesota thing? Like how we play Duck, Duck, Grey Duck and not Duck, Duck, Goose? Or was this purely a University Avenue Elementary thing?

So, darling ones, inquiring minds want to know. Did you add like Jackie Gleason to the end of the song?

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  1. Matt Tonak 04.Dec.12 at 9:56 pm

    We always said “like Monopoly” after reindeer games.

    1. Jodi 04.Dec.12 at 9:57 pm

      Your elementary was way more wholesome than mine. Did Rudolph go down in history like anyone? At all?

      1. Matt Tonak 04.Dec.12 at 10:22 pm

        It’s all coming back to me.

        …had a very shiny nose. (like a light bulb!)
        …used to laugh and call him names. (Like Pinocchio!)
        …you’ll go down in history! (Like George Washington!)

        I am starting to remember that “strip poker” was an alternate reindeer game that we whispered when the adults weren’t around.

        1. Jodi 04.Dec.12 at 10:23 pm

          I forgot about calling him names! Like Dumbo!

  2. Jonathon 04.Dec.12 at 10:17 pm

    We definitely added little phrases to the song in elementary school, a practice I continue to this day under my breath whenever I hear the song at work because I’ve lost my merry mind by this point in the season. I think Rudolph went down in history like “Attila the Hunnnnnnnn” most of the time, but that was largely a product of the Simpsons: . I’m not sure either fate is ideal.

    1. Jonathon 04.Dec.12 at 10:17 pm

      Oh look at my cool monster avatar. I need to comment on your blog more often.

    2. Matt Tonak 04.Dec.12 at 10:25 pm

      I feel ashamed that I didn’t remember the strip poker reference came from The Simpsons.

    3. Jodi 04.Dec.12 at 10:25 pm

      It’s good to know the ad libs are kind of a pop cultural phenomenon. I wonder where we came up with Jackie Gleason.

  3. M-----l 04.Dec.12 at 10:24 pm

    I never sang anything fun at the end of that song. Sorry.

    What I really want to say here is that the Duck, Duck, Goose part of this post reminded me that I once went to a festival somewhere around Minneapolis when I was a kid. The festival was called Duck Duck Days. I remember one of my little cousins totally freaking out over a guy in a duck costume. We had to go home early.

    1. Jodi 04.Dec.12 at 10:26 pm

      While I laugh at your cousin’s terror over a giant duck, I shouldn’t. I was one of those kids who had leave many a parade and birthday party because I’d lose my shit at the sight of a clown.

  4. todd 05.Dec.12 at 5:42 am

    This is from a time when things were less pc : “…then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say,’Rudolph, with your gun so bright, won’t you shoot my wife tonight?’ ” Time and alcohol has mercifully dampened most of that recall. Thank you, Lincoln Elementary School!

    1. Jodi 05.Dec.12 at 9:01 am

      Oh, I do have vague memories of the shoot my wife line too. Such naughty kids.

  5. Hotrod 05.Dec.12 at 8:29 am

    Like Columbus.

    And Duck, Duck, Grey Duck? Seriously? Minnesotans are weird.

    1. Jodi 05.Dec.12 at 9:04 am

      Ha! At least Jackie Gleason didn’t rape, pillage, and murder his way through the “new” world. At least I don’t think he did, I’m not too up on his biography. So yeah, why would Rudolph want to be like Columbus? You Ohioans are weird.

      But, in your defense (and of course you need me to come to your defense), I had a twitter chat with someone who wasn’t from here last night and he lamented not only the Duck, Duck, Grey Duck but our tendency to serve food with names that in no way describes what is in them (e.g. our habit of serving jello stuffed with things and calling it some sort of salad) and how we spell hotdish as one word.

  6. Matthew Baiocchi 05.Dec.12 at 9:19 am

    Oh dear, the “duck duck gray duck/goose” thing comes up often in our household. As do the “rubber binders/bands,” “sliding/sledding” and omnipresent “soda/pop” issues.

    And darn it, it’s bubbler, not water fountain!

    I feel like I liberated my wife from Minnesota, she believes I shanghaied her.

    1. Jodi 05.Dec.12 at 9:27 am

      I spent five years in the wilds of Wisconsin (aka College) and y’all are weird. However, I do like to say soda and sometime sodapop. However it is bands and water fountains, that’s just the right & true way.

      But I want to know, did Rudolph go down in history like anyone?

      1. Matthew Baiocchi 05.Dec.12 at 10:05 am

        I’m afraid Rudolph did not go down in history like anyone. The only addition to the song I remember form kidhood is,” like a light bulb,” which was sung with much enthusiasm and glee.

        However, I can still, to this very day, recite the entire jingle bells, batman smells lyrics. I am absurdly proud of this.

        1. Jodi 05.Dec.12 at 10:07 am

          Are there more lyrics after “and the Joker got away?” Also, I have discovered on Facebook that there are a few people who didn’t have Rudolph go down in history like anyone else. Incidentally, those are the same people who didn’t play duck, duck, grey duck.

        2. Matthew Baiocchi 05.Dec.12 at 10:16 am

          Nope, no other lyrics after “joker got away.” And now, realizing that there are only about a dozen lyrics to batman smells, I feel less proud of my achievement.

          As far as the correlation between grey duck and Rudolph going down in history like someone else, perhaps, since the imagination was not taxed with gray duck, some extra imagination juice was left to enhance the Rudolph lyrics?

  7. Jodi 05.Dec.12 at 10:18 am

    Duck, Duck, Grey Duck totally made you flex your imagination and added intrigue to the game. Red Duck, Blue Duck, Yellow Duck, Purple Duck GRRrrrreeeeen Duck, GREY DUCK! See?

    1. Matthew Baiocchi 05.Dec.12 at 10:23 am

      Ah, I see. That *is* quite the increase in intrigue with the “G” sound.

      1. Jodi 05.Dec.12 at 10:24 am

        When you’re under 10, it is the most dramatic thing ever.

  8. james 05.Dec.12 at 11:06 am

    we said “Kennedy”

    1. Jodi 05.Dec.12 at 11:07 am

      That’s the first Kennedy. My friend Steve said Nixon.

  9. Katherine 05.Dec.12 at 5:33 pm

    We didn’t add any lines to our Rudolph-singing and nobody else went down in history, I’m sorry to say. Now I want to go back and redo that part of my childhood. Luckily we did have Gray Duck, hotdish, pop, and jello salad. We also said phy. ed. instead of phys. ed. and tennis shoes instead of gym shoes (take that, Chicagoans). And a stop light was just a stop light, not a stop-and-go light, Wisconsinites, although I do bow (slightly) to the correctness of that funny term!

  10. Sally 24.Dec.14 at 2:45 pm

    I just stumbled across your post today, while googling “like Jackie Gleason” in an effort to find out why he’d go down in history, and why on earth we’d sing that. Anyway – I’m rather amused, having been raised in MN, that I recognized all of the references (like poker and grey duck) in your post. Makes me wonder how strange us Minnesotans are. Which is a good thing. Thanks for the smile. 🙂


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