A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“Rappers pretend they have more money than the really do; country singers that they have less” (7/26)
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Entry from March 06, 2005
Lemonade (or, the New York Game)
"Here we come!"
"Where are you from?"
"New York."
"What's your trade?"
"Lemonade."

These are the opening lines to a game of charades that has nothing to do with either lemonade or New York. However, it's called "Lemonade" or "The New York Game."

(Dictionary of American Regional English)
New York n
also New York nigger nut town; A children's game: =lemonade.

1899 Amer. Anthropologist 1.265 DC, New York...One line turns around and advances, announcing, "Here we come." The children in the other line also turn and inquire, "Where from?" "New York." "What's your trade?" They imitate in dumb show the motions of any occupation which may have been agreed on. The others guess what it is. If right the imitating party cry, "Yes," and endeavor to escape to their own chalk line or base. The members of the other party pursue, making recruits of all preisoners...The name of any other place may be substituted for "New York."

26 July 1940, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 12:
"What's your trade?" "Lemonade." It's part of the rigamarole that went with the old game of charades, but many a mother may feel pushed to the point of adopting it as her theme song during a hot spell.

1 June 1947, New York Herald Tribune, This Week, "On the Sidewalks of New York," pg. 36:
A curious postscript to all these local games is something unheard-of here, but known throughout the West as the New York Game. It starts with this dialogue:

"Here we come!"
"Where from?"
"New York."
"What's your trade?"
"Lemonade." After this, one team acts out a charade which has nothing to do with either New York or lemonade. The End

September 1948, Hoosier Folklore, vol. VII, no. 3, pg. 87:
Lemonade
Any number may play lemonade. Two captains are chosen, and each chooses players, one at a time. The teams line up facing each other. Each has a home base. One team takes "it." That team chooses something to demonstrate, such as chopping wood or hoeing the garden. The "it" team says, "Here we come," and they start walking toward the other team. The other team starts walking to meet them. The (Pg. 88--ed.) second team says, "Where from?" The first replies, "New York." The second asks, "What's your trade?" the first answers, "Lemonade." The second says, "Show us something if you are not afraid." (The reply may vary. Sometimes it is, "Go to work.") The first team then begins to demonstrate; the second team tries to guess what is being done. There may be any number of guesses. If the second team guesses right, the first team starts to run for the home base. If anyone is tagged by the other team, he goes to the other side. It is then time for the second team to select something to demonstrate.

March 1949, Hooiser Folklore, vol. VIII, no. 1, pg. 22:
Lemonade

A. Here we come.
B. Where from?
A. New York.
B. What's your trade?
A. Lemonade.
B. Get to work.

Group B then tries to guess what Group A is going. Of the 8 variants, two have New Orleans instead of New York (Ill., 1, Ind., 1). The last line may be replaced by:
1. How's it made? (Ind.)
2. Give us some. (Ill.)
3. Show us some of your handiwork. (Ind.)
4. Go to work and work all day. (Kentucky.)
The last line may not be given at all (Ind.)

Two versions differ markedly from the rest:

1.
A. Pennsylvania.
Bum, bum, bum.
Here I come.
B. What's your trade?
Pg. 23:
A. Lemonade.
B. Get to work. (Miss. and Tenn.)

2.
A. What's your state?
B. New York.
A. What's your trade?
B. Lemonade. (Ind.)

References: Babcock; Gomme, I, 117; Heck, 30; Newell, 249; Randolph, Vance and Nancy Clemons, "Ozark Mountain Party Games," JAFL, XLIX (1936), 204; Cf. Gomme, II, 305.

Spring 1958, West Virginia Folklore, Pg. 40:
New York. (or New Orleans)

Here we come. Where you from?
New York.
What's your trade?
Lemonade.
Show us some.

14 May 1982, Washington Post, pg. W47:
LEMONADE: One person is picked to be "It." Everyone welse in a position to watch says, "Where are you from?" "It" tells his place of birth, The others ask, "What's your trade?" and "It" answers, "Lemonade."

Then "It" must act out a profession (cooking, carpentry, window washing, lobbying?) within the constraints of his car seat, and the other players have to guess wht he is trying to be. When they hae guesses correctly, the person sitting next to "It" takes on the acting role.

Posted by Barry Popik
Food/Drink • (1) Comments • Sunday, March 06, 2005 • Permalink


I’m 50 years old, and when I was 10-ish in Michigan I recall saying “Pennsylvania” rather than New York… and we shouted “Show us something if you’re not afraid”, before the action started.

Posted by David  on  02/24  at  11:29 AM

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