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Limerick Challenge

This series of limericks first appeared in a June 14, 1924 edition of a Nantucket newspaper. It all began when the Princeton Tiger revived the then well-known limerick printed first below and the Chicago Tribune answered with the second limerick. The New York Exchange went one step further with the third rhyme, and the Pawtucket Times took over from there.

About thirty years ago, Yesterday’s Island began to encourage readers to continue the saga. Because of reader demands, we again issue the challenge our readers to write their own ”chapters.“ (Only rhymes in the form of limericks will be accepted. Limericks should have five lines that follow the rhythm in the examples below.) Send the limericks to us at P.O. Box 626, Nantucket, MA 02554, or email your limerick.

There once was a man from Nantucket,
Who kept all of his cash in a bucket,
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.
—Princeton Tiger

But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
The man and the girl with the bucket;
And he said to the man,
He was welcome to Nan,
But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.
—Chicago Tribune

Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset,
Where he still held the cash as an asset,
But Nan and the man
Stole the money and ran,
And as for the bucket, Manhasset.

Of this story we hear from Nantucket,
About the mysterious loss of a bucket,
We are sorry for Nan,
As well as the man—
The cash and the bucket, Pawtucket.
—Pawtucket Times

This series of 7 by Mary Kennedy of NY, NY

There once was a man from Nantucket,
Who kept all his cash in a bucket,
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

But traces of guilt
Tainted the life that they’d built
Using money they’d stole from her dad
And before long she saw the man was a cad
So her heart then took a new tilt.

On the way back to the isle
Without even the trace of a smile
She prayed that her Pa would be kind
And forgive her for being so blind
And to fall for that awful man’s guile.

A thing about love one mustn’t forget
Sometimes it’s just a bad bet
And it always requires
That one respects one’s sires
And the father lets go of regret.

So the daughter came home to ACK
With the nearly full bucket in her sack
And the family let out a big cheer
To welcome her home without fear
She’d ever again fall off track.

And now a long time since that day
You’ll see her at work or at play
With a handsome young man at her side
Because Fate gave her a chance to abide
And soon become that man’s bride.

The thing about heartache is to pluck it
So like a lime you just suck it
She learned from her error
That nothing’s a real terror
As long as one’s back on Nantucket.

Our newest additions to this challenge is a series of six that were written the summer of 2016 as a prequel to the series by Thomas Severo of Westford, MA.  Thank you, Thomas, for envisioning how the saga began…

Now Martha she lived on the Vineyard,
With a pirate named Vin and a chin guard,
Which she’d strapped to the boy,
Lest he shout “Yar!” / “Ahoy!”
But as for her plan, Martha’s Vineyard.

One day Martha and Vin had a daughter
The envy of ev’ry Cape Codder!
Her tastes were so fancy.
Her folks called her Nancy.
And all that she wanted, they bought her.

From his pirating days, Vin had money
And he spent it on Nan and his hunny
He spoiled them rotten
With riches ill-gotten
While Nan grew more greedy and cunning

But Vin feared his treasure’d be found
So he dug it up out of the ground
Then sat on the beach
While he moved ev’ry piece
To the bucket he carried around.

Soon enough Nan began dating
Which Vin just found so aggravating
His daughter was pretty
And boys from the city
Had formed a line- patiently waiting.

And so her young life, Vin did pluck it
Straight out of that town and with luck it
Would stop these advances
On sweet little Nan since
The family moved to Nantucket….

And more of our readers’ additions:

An old man sailed over from Hauppauge,
He needed the bucket for quahogs.
As for the cash,
He gave a huge bash
And the chowder left everyone agog.
— Jennifer Wiggins, Port Washington, NY

‘Nantucket’ – it rhymes in our head
With something that shouldn’t be said
Around Mothers and vicars
And those with weak tickers
(Unless you’ve invaded their bed).
—Doug Harris, 17 Grosvenor Road, Stockton-on-Tees, TS19 7AE, England, UK

But Pa’s true wealth is stashed in Poughkeepsie,
Where he spends it on women and whiskey;
So Nan and her Man
Got the bucket, as planned,
But as for the fortune, Poughkeepsie
— by Joseph E. Toole, Carmel, IN

Well, Nan settled down in Assonet.
But that leaves a question now, don’t it?
Did she think on that bucket
full of cash on Nantucket?
I’d say you can bet your Assonet!
– Clayton Commons of Rhode Island

On reading of Nan and Paw’s bucket
I penned this short verse, and with luck it
Will show I have feelings
For Paw, ‘cos Nan’s dealings
With him were real cruel; you can’t duck it.
– Chris Whitehead of West Sussex, UK

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who collected his ‘shrooms in a bucket
At the local museum
He tried to ID ’em
But failed and in wrath cried “Aw shuck it!”
– Mike Boom of Berkeley, CA

When the man saw Pa leave with the bucket,
He sent Nan home, with a plan, to Nantucket.
Said he, “Sneak in the house,
And quick as a mouse,
Out the window, the bucket, you chuck it‰
—C. Alan Reber, Arizona

She returned with no more than a ducat
And said “Jewels, Dad, tell me where you stuck it.”
“If you’d like a nice pearl”
He said to his girl
“Just take this here oyster and shuck it”
— Patrick McKeon, Princeton, NJ

Pa said,  ‘Nan, about the bucket:
If it’s money you need, I don’t lack it.
I could give you some cash
From my plentiful stash,
There was no need for your man to jack it.’
— Kevin Foley , Vienna, Austria

A birdwatching Brit. on Nantucket,
Drew his Peterson Guide from his pocket,
To check on a bird
He’d both seen and heard;
“A blue jay!” he cried. “I can tick it!”
— Peter Chubb, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England

Pa went back to Nantucket,
And decided to toss the bucket,
He bought bees with the money,
and now he sells honey,
But the money he earned, Mantucket
— Tami Martinex, Playa Del Rey, CA

The theft had the whole Island reeling,
When Nan and her man went a stealing,
Nan grabbed a deck of cards and a tent,
To West Virginia she went,
Pa found Nan dealing in Wheeling.
— Bill Briggs, Tusseyville, PA

Before Nan lifted that cash and bucket
It wasn’t his but Pawtucket
When the owner saw Pa
To claim it by law
Pa said, I don’t have that bucket, Nantucket.

A nanny left home for Nantucket,
In search of the infamous bucket.
Alas, the bucket was found
With the help of her hound.
And as for the bucket Nantucket.
— Sharon Graves, El Dorado, AR

That bucket was soon found in Juneau,
And the cash that it held caused a row,
Such that Nan and her mate
As they fled from the state,
Grabbed the bucket and ran, don’t Juneau.
— Rob Keister, Fountain Valley, CA

Why all the fuss ’bout this bucket?
Sure, Nan and her man left and tucket
But Pa still owns land
out on Sankaty sand
When he sells, all that cash he’ll just truck it!
— Joseph Kim, Walen, MA

On Nantucket, the island I live,
Cash flows through my bucket, a sieve.
When Nan and her man
Return home again,
I’ll have nothing but love left to give.

There once was a man from Nantucket,
Who gave me his Nantucket Bucket,
By doing his part,
He won my heart,
And I fell for that man from Nantucket.
— Bonnie Mitchell, White Plains, NY

The lawyer they hired, Dan Schuckat,
Advised the two people to chuck it
And offer to settle;
That tested their mettle.
And as for their fortune, Dantucket.
— Jane Gill-Shaler, North Carolina

The man built their home in Alaska,
Nan wished she had stuck with Nebraska,
For the weather was cold,
And she was getting old,
Poor old Nan and the man in Alaska.
— Joshua Zubricki, Gloucester, MA

Nan took the cash to Nantasket
Before her ol’ man blew a gasket
Nan showed some class
By carrying her stash
In a handwoven Nantucket Basket.
— John Ryan, Haverill, MA

There was once a man from Nantucket,
who liked to dump waste in a bucket.
When he looked a yonder,
he began to ponder,
how far off will this go from Nantucket?
Celia A. Escalante

The mysterious Portly Bard penned 3 new limericks for the Challenge in addition to the many he wrote for our Pandemic Limerick Challenge this spring:

With Nan and her man in New Haven
Pa hired a bright legal maven,
Who said to Manhasset
That pail is Pa’s asset,
We’re suing you too in New Haven!

The judge indeed ruled that Nan tucket,
The stash of the cash from the bucket,
And ordered both pail
And cash without fail
Returned to Pa back in Nantucket

Nan’s actions were clearly illicit.
Manhasset was oddly complicit.
And as for her fee,
The lawyer, with glee,
Told Pa she would gladly dismiss it.

This new limerick chapter was submitted in September of 2020 by Ian J. McLaughlin…
There once was a girl from Wauwinet,
Whom I met at the whaling exhibit,
She stole my heart,
Right from the start,
I proposed, and we sailed off on my frigate.
— by Ian J. McLaughlin
Note: married to the actual girl from Wauwinet – Victoria ; )

The Song of the Nantucket Bucket

Pa’s a legend unnamed in Nantucket,
now reknowned for his cash in a bucket,
whose endowed daughter Nan
met a devious man
who was mining for “gold” where Pa stuck it.

After faking romance with fair Nan,
he convinced her to rob her old man
and once Nan had snuck it
a trip to Pawtucket
with the cash—to dump Nan—was his plan.

She’d return as the prodigal daughter
to bemoan all her error had taught her
and be welcomed with grace
to her father’s embrace
like a lamb being saved from its slaughter,

And the man would set sail with Pa’s money
in search of another young honey
and a tropical clime
where he’d while away time
getting used to the rain turning sunny.

But far wiser than he had suspected,
the old man had the scam well detected
“Keeping Nan will be fine,
but that cash is all mine,”
he told both as he left them dejected.

Then forsaking his Yesterday’s Isle,
though he said it was just for a while,
Pa moved to Manhasset
with pail and cash asset
to begin empty-nesting in style.

But he’d angered Miss Nan and her man
who then said “We’re amending your plan,
as price for misgiving
try emptiness living,”
as away to New Haven they ran

With Pa’s pail and his cash in their car,
though before they had gotten too far,
to create a false trail
they divested the pail
and instead used an old earthen jar.

But then Pa took a bit of offense
and surprisingly used common sense.
He reported the crime
and then wasted no time
in declaring his legal intents

to recover his now famous pail
and the cash it contained without fail,
to strike Nan from his will,
and have her foot the bill,
and then serve out a sentence in jail

while he’d cleverly manage to seal
an incredible marketing deal
for the “Piggy Pail” banks
he inscribed with his thanks
for his Nantucket fame so surreal:

“Store your dream not your cash in this bucket.
Mine for gold that you’ve earned when you’ve struck it.
Though it might take a while,
just remember to smile
and be glad when you find your Nantucket.”

Post Scriptum

Pa has since, in a rare show of kindness,
admitting to love being blindness,
said Nan was to blame
but able to claim
by birth her contrary inclined-ness.

Although humor continues unfolding,
and the Bank of Nantucket is holding
all Pa’s cash, his fair Nan
now again seeks a man
though no scoundrel that Pa would be scolding.

And as for his pail getting older
(and legend of rhyme that’s extolled her),
the size of the tale
now proves without fail
the Whaling Museum should hold her.

And Pa is convinced he’s enabled
Nantucket to proudly be labeled
“Historical Isle
of Magical Style
Where Stories and Stays Become Fabled.”

And he thinks he belongs here among
all the art Joyce and Johnson have hung
on each gallery wall
as the works that recall
how the songs of Nantucket are sung

by the talented women and men
re-creating again and again
enchantment and glory,
the landscape and story,
that Nantucket forever has been.

And Pa thinks our fine dining cuisine
—the Dune, Topper’s, and Galley Beach scene—
should feature tossed salad
befitting his ballad —
“Pa’s Bucket of Nantucket Green.”

Articles by Date from 2012