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#2517 - 05/17/00 07:43 PM Pufferbellies
helanmar Offline

Registered: 05/17/00
Posts: 3
My grandson has just learned the railroad song, "Down by the Station" and I sang along with him. When we came to the third line, "See the little (I think) "pufferbellies" all in a row . . .", of course the question arose, What's a pufferbelly? I thought it was a steam locomotive, but my brother believes otherwise. Any railroad buffs out there?

#2518 - 05/17/00 11:09 PM Re: Pufferbellies
David108 Offline

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
In the days of steam railway, the locomotive was known as a "Puffing Billy". So the line is

"see the little puffing Billies..."

I must admit that I prefer your grandson's version! Do we have a new word to add to coin-a-word?

#2519 - 05/18/00 01:57 AM Re: Pufferbellies
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
In one of the older sections of the Catholic liturgy there was (is) a section which included a list of saints, one was Melchizedek (that will upset the spell-checker).

It my father (now 80) many years to realise that he had always said "milk is an egg" - he'd thought it rather strange but you weren't expected to question religion in those days!

#2520 - 05/18/00 08:00 PM Re: Pufferbellies
helanmar Offline

Registered: 05/17/00
Posts: 3
Thanks for your responses. "Puffing billies", eh? Hmmm.

Isn't there a word for words or phrases we mis-hear, and then mis-quote, as jmh's father's "milk is an egg" and Malachy McCourt's "A Monk Swimming" for "amongst women" in the Hail Mary? (I must confess that I too said "a monk swimming" when I prayed the Hail Mary as a child. I figured that a monk is holy and therefore belonged in a prayer. And, jmh, you're right: we certainly didn't question religion back then!)

#2521 - 05/18/00 09:44 PM Re: Pufferbellies
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10538
Loc: this too shall pass
both "pufferbellies" and "puffing billies" can be found via net searches, in the context of the song lyric and in a marketing context. I'm wondering if the two are cultural differences or if one is a mondegreen [misheard lyric] of the other. pufferbellies sure *sounds like a steam locomotive as well.


#2522 - 05/19/00 07:36 AM Re: Pufferbellies
cadaver Offline

Registered: 03/17/00
Posts: 23
Loc: Ohio USA
I am reminded of a joke concerning a child that got a new Teddy Bear that had eyes that moved erratically. When asked what he/she was going to name the new toy, the reply was "Gladly". When the reason for naming the bear "Gladly" was explored the reply was "It's after the song we sing in Sunday school; 'Gladly, The Cross I'd Bear' ".

#2523 - 05/19/00 07:52 AM Re: Pufferbellies
Jackie Online   content

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
HA! Cadaver (MAN, I do not like that name! Sorry!), that was great! Reminds me of reading about the child who
asked for God's jam on his toast. In response to his
puzzled grand-mother, he said, "You know, Grandma, in the
Bible--it says God makes preserves, and keeps us"!

#2524 - 05/19/00 02:07 PM Re: Pufferbellies
David108 Offline

Registered: 05/09/00
Posts: 112
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
Since we seem to have segue'd nicely from rolling stock to religion, this might be an apposite place to tell of my son's first experience in a Synagogue:

I carried the three-year old into the Temple during a High Holy Day service. The place was packed. The Rabbi, and all attendant personnel were wearing white robes, with tall mitres, and the scene was very impressive.

In a stage whisper that was heard by the entire congregation, my awed offspring asked me

"Dad, which one is God?"


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