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Q: Wondering about the origin of a strange catch phrase my mother used to say. ( No Answer,   2 Comments )
Subject: Wondering about the origin of a strange catch phrase my mother used to say.
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: dobler77-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 19 Mar 2005 13:41 PST
Expires: 18 Apr 2005 14:41 PDT
Question ID: 497299
My mother used to say the catch phrase "bo bo swantindosky, wha wha
and do". (not sure of the spelling, but that is what it sounded like.)
 We never thought to ask her what it means or where it comes from. 
She has recently past away, and my family is just curious of the
origin of this nonsense phrase.  It is probably a pop culture term
from music, TV, or
film between the 50s and 70s. Does anyone know what it means?

Request for Question Clarification by markj-ga on 19 Mar 2005 16:19 PST
dobler77 --

Under what circumstances would your mother say it? When she was happy?
Surprised? Impatient?   Would she say it clearly so that you are
pretty certain about the pronunciation?

Any other clues you can provide might be helpful.


Clarification of Question by dobler77-ga on 20 Mar 2005 08:31 PST
She would say it when she was happy.  It was very nonsensical. I think
she sometimes used it as an answer to a "who did what" question. 
example:  "Who took my candy?" she wound answer "bobo swantindosky,
wha wha and do"  I know it sounds ridiculous, but thats what she'd
say.  I'm pretty sure it didn't have to do with the "do wha diddy"
song.  She said it pretty clearly.  The way I'm spelling it is as
close a representation as I can get.  I've had trouble researching it
because of the many variations you could probably spell it.  The
word/name "swantindosky" makes me think it could have been from a
polish background. She was raised in a small town in the middle of
Nebraska, and probably learned the phrase anywhere from 1955 to 1975. 
Her cultural influences were mostly movies and television.  I'm
wondering if it's from an old musical.   Thanks in advance for your
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Wondering about the origin of a strange catch phrase my mother used to say.
From: teddyedward-ga on 20 Mar 2005 00:07 PST
Since you mentioned pop music maybe it was "doo wah diddy diddy dum
diddy do" and no I have no idea what it means either but they were the
lyrics of a popular song from Manfred Mann
Subject: Re: Wondering about the origin of a strange catch phrase my mother used to say.
From: bentruwe-ga on 27 Mar 2005 16:22 PST
My condolences about your mother; I know all too well how important
these little mysteries become once it's too late.

I first heard your mother's phrase in 1965; it comes from a nonsense
song she most likely learned in the 1960s in the Girl Scouts, at
summer camp, or as a high school cheer. Since it was transmitted all
around the world by word of mouth, there's an enormous variation in
the lyrics, and it's known by many titles:

Cumelada Vista
Cumala Viste
Kumala Vista
Cu-Ma-La Be-Stay
The Vista
Mamalama Cumalama Cumala Pizza 
Calamine Lotion
Itchy Flea
Flea Fly Flow
Flee Fly Flo
Flea Fly Mosquito

This is the only discussion I could find online about the song:

Here's a list of some of the sites that give lyrics. Note the
variations, and note how many URLs are Scout-related: songbook/CallAndResponse/CumeladaVista.pdf

I couldn't find any information on the song's history; it would
require a compilation of dated material to make that possible. None of
the sites above give publication dates.

A strong circumstantial case could be made that the ?Cumala Viste?
versions derive from ?Flea Fly Mosquito,? judging from the parallels
between ?calamine? and ?cumala,? the insecticide spray-can noise
preserved as the shushing noise, the retention of the ?no no no no?
(among the few English words in the nonsense version), and the
slap-rhythm accompaniment for both songs. Once freed of its literal
meaning and transmitted orally, the song could mutate into today?s
myriad versions. Presumably this happened in the early 1960s; I first
heard it in Southern Nevada in September 1965, when our entire high
school was taught it as a cheer by cheerleaders fresh from
cheerleading camp. I was unaware of any recorded versions until I
started looking it up on the Web.

The Edmond, Oklahoma high school class of 1964 called it their "class chant":

Chubby Checker recorded it as "Cu-Ma-La Be-Stay" in July 1965:

The song was released by Viking Records as a single, "Cumala Be Stay,"
by the Australian singing duo The Chicks in 1966:

This California high school also used it as a cheer, in 1966:

The song was recorded around 2000 by a group called Fe-Mail as "Flee Fly Flo":

Here's an MP3!

Ben Truwe

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