Information About ABC Tumble
"ABC Tumble's" origins are murky at best, but this rhyme has often accompanied collections of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes throughout published history. Scholars believe the simple little verse may have descended from an old English nursery rhyme called "Great A, little A, Bouncing B". The first print version of that rhyme is thought to have been published in 1744.
Like many rhymes, this one was used to teach language and letter skills to children. It features the play on the first three letters of the alphabet and illustrates the concept of alliteration for cat, cupboard and C.
There are many variations of this verse from culture to culture. Most notably is an early African American version "A, B, C, Doubled Down D". This verse, found in the 1922 book Negro Folk Rhymes, Wise and Otherwise, with a Study by Thomas W. Talley, closely follows an English rendition with its extended verses.
Of interest is the term "hick'rytea" or hickory tea, which refers, in both the English and African American versions, to a spanking with a hickory bough, not an actual beverage. Also, the term "cat" in the version above was actually slang for "itinerant worker".