Rub-a-Dub-Dub . . .  c’mon, say it with me. You know it:

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, three men in a tub . . .

But do you know the rest?

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, three men in a tub, and who do you think was there? The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-Maker, and all of them gone to the fair!

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Oh, this one was so much fun! These three guys have all spent the day at a fair, and now they’re making their way home with all their stuff!

The Butcher bought some livestock:

IMG_2511_picmonkeyedBut the piglet and the chicken aren’t too happy about it — they’re both doing their best to escape.

The Baker bought some apples.

IMG_2514I wish I could taste some of whatever he’s going to make with them!

He also won first prize for his cherry pie!

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The Candlestick-maker apparently was trying to sell his wares at the fair, but wasn’t able to get rid of all of them, so he’s carrying them home again.

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And look: he bought some toys for his children! A ball-and-cup game for his son, and a corn husk dolly for his little girl. What a good father!

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But the candy apple is just for him. (He just couldn’t resist!)

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Someone also bought something that’s wrapped up in brown paper. It sure is crowded in that tub!

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But here’s the strange thing about this nursery rhyme: why on earth are they in a tub? That makes no sense at all!

Well, there’s one rather titillating possible explanation. As with most folk literature, there are variations on this poem. There are a number of different versions of the last line. But I have read that one early version of the poem had the ending I quoted, but with a very important difference near the beginning. Instead of three men in the tub, there were three maids in the tub — suggesting that the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker were looking at a peep show at the fair!

What naughty boys!

But that can’t be right. They don’t look a bit ashamed!

The Butcher:IMG_2525

The Baker:IMG_2524

And the Candlestick-Maker!IMG_2523

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