Written by Frank Michaels
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Saturday, 8 March 2014

image for Fame and Fable: Dickory's Hickory Dock Was Dickory's Dock, Hickory?

Myth, Mother Goose, Nursery Rhyme all have their roots in cultures now long gone.

We today do not think much of them. We have no understanding of words that often seem completely nonsensical. But at one time...

Jamestown, Virginia, was an early British colony in the new world.
In Jamestown, there was a lively shipping trade and numerous, private dockings. One was owned by Thomas Dickory.

Thom Dickory sought to build a deep-water dock but was short on materials. So he struck a deal with the local Native Americans for enough Oaken timber to build a proper dock to begin a shipping business.

Within a few months, his lumber arrived and construction began… except that the builders noticed that the wood was Hickory, not Oak. No one understood how well Hickory would withstand the rigors of the ocean, tides and the salt. But the dock was completed and it eventually became known as Dickory's Hickory Dock.

As it turned out, the wood weathered just fine and within the shipping masters' office, there was an old wood & brass ship's clock. It was used to log the comings and goings of imports and exports from the dock. But old the clock was and it never struck any hour that chimed more than a single, solitary tone.

In other words, the clock struck one every hour of every day, 365 days a year.

The mouse and the rhyme are locked in the folds of history... but at least we now know some of the story.

Hickory Dickory Dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
The mouse ran down
Hickory Dickory Dock

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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