They Put You In a Wooden Box

Written by one of Peter's niece's Marie:

We come from a family of singers. Peter Sr. had a deep baritone voice, quite possibly lower than his son. Nettie sang and danced, and all their siblings are singers, so music was encouraged in our family.

Every Wednesday night, most of the family would flock to Red Hook to visit our Aunt Helen and along the trip, we'd do what other families would do in the car -- we'd sing. Sometimes they were melodies on the radio. Sometimes they were tunes from Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra ... they were usually songs that could be adapted to various octaves. Sometimes we'd practice tongue twisters -- sort of an old-fashioned rap -- and other times Nettie and Pete would tell stories about life when they were younger.

This next song was taught to us by the younger Peter - like a witch's bedtime story - it soon became a family favorite. I don't know where Peter originally heard this song, but we love it. Enjoy:

If  you see a hearse go by
Then you know that you're next to die
They put you in a wooden box
Cover you over with dirt and rocks
And then it starts
The worms crawl in
The worms crawl out
Into your stomach
And out of your mouth
The worms crawl in
The worms crawl out
Eating your guts
And shitting them out


Check out this video from Toledo OH 2000


  1. I have heard that one too myself. The version I know had the line " the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinnacle on your snout"
    I like Peters version much better!
    Loved the story. Im jealous of the closeness and talent and all the fun your family has had over the years. Now in my 30's I wish I could play an instrument or sing solo, Something! Unlike your family, I had no nurture there and really wish I did. But here I sit in an office doing office stuff (and looking at this blog, LOL)
    Take care everyone
    -Kristen (-)

  2. Ha,ha,ha...that's why I'm being cremated! Are you all sure Peter didn't make that up, sounds like something that would've come from his brain, lol. (-)

  3. I remember this song!! LOL!! Yeah, his version is way better of course. It's so funny because I think of my family trying to pile into the car together to go somewhere...NOT HAPPENING without a fistfight. :) xo

  4. That's the version I heard too Kristen.. followed by "They eat your eyes they eat your nose, they eat the jelly between your toes" :)

  5. Awesome post thank you for sharing :)

  6. Wow Peter Sr's voice was possibly lower than Peters! Music is definately something that brings people together and is good for the soul. Peter had the gift of bringing people together with his friendly personality and also with his music, on a global scale! Lucky me (us) to be here on the planet at the same time as Peter and to enjoy what he has given us first hand. I have also heard this song but a slightly different version. I bet Peter loved singing this song as a kid.I love doing silly things like in the picture. Always funny.


  8. We are so lucky that Nettie and Peter Sr. gave the gift of music to their childern. We def. benfitted from this! I have two boys and they play drums and guitar. Not well but I love hearing it all the same. I always encourage them to turn it up all the way!!! Def. getting cremated cause I don't want the worms "crawling in and out"! Haha love it! Once again thanks for sharing and peace.

  9. Love the picture. So funny, it´s never too late to make fun of other people around you. I remember pranks I used to do toward my parents, they just couldn´t understand what happened until they realized "someone" had a really good time playing. Even now as an adult I get blamed for silly stunts, even when I´m not around. So strange ;D It seems like your family really had some wonderful times entertaining eachother. I can recall the song from somewhere, maybe som horrormovie or something like that. Actually this song really put words to why I´m going to get cremated when I´m dead. Just can´t stand the bare thought of those worms...

  10. OK this is COMPLETELY off subject, but on my FB page I asked my friends for copy of Peter's playgirl for my birthday. And of course to be a goof, I said that a pencil rendering of nude Peter would be sufficient as well. Not only did my bf find the magazine and ordered it for me, he also posted a pencil rendering of Pete naked. It looks like 12 year old drew it and all I could see was big feet and a big you-know-what. And to top it off, Peter had long flowing hair with his hand running through it and drawn in pecs and abs. I couldn't stop laughing.

  11. And this is why, if I'm ever able, I'm opting for a sky burial. Or a convenient pack of hyenas at a game reserve. Good thing I live in Africa, hey?

  12. I have always heard the line about the worms go: the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out. The worms play pinochle on your snout. That's how my Mom would sing it.

  13. Your family car trips sound like they were a lot of fun. I'm sure Pete, Sr. had an impressive voice, especially if it was even lower than his son's distinctive timbre.

    I don't have any family car stories, though, my father said that on the way back from the Grand Canyon once while he was sound asleep, his sister put grape jelly in his ear. When he woke up, she convinced him it was probably his brain oozing out.

    Peter's song is amusing...I've heard the song before, in a slightly modified version. My fourth grade teacher Ms. Clark sang it while reading Judy Blume's "Blubber" to us. "The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, they eat your guts and they spit them out."

    P.S. - I agree with Nerine, Tibetan sky burial, all the way....

    Thanks for sharing the stories, as always!

    ~ L.

  14. I've heard the same thing about the worms playing pinochle on your snout. I believe the old Dr. Demento radio show featured that song as well. Truly a classic! Just like the Bugs Bunny cartoon with Baby Face Finster, I thought I was the only one in the world who loved that one.

  15. lol...dont think my family ever sang that song..that I remember anyways. but I also came from a musical family..my dad and some cousins played the piano and my dad plays the organ too.. he was our source of entertainment growing up before cable tv came along..lol. it was my dad on the organ playing all kinds of songs while we sat and watched and listened. sometimes ate popcorn that he would pop..and when we had friends over or there friends and their kids over for a slumber party or for a visit theyd always ask for my dad to play the organ and he would. was some goodtimes back then. along with listening to music on my moms big stereo and the stereo we had in the basement with my parents records of all kinds of music in which my brother and I would play alot of.we grew up with all kinds of music and the love and respect for it.my brother was blessed with the ability to play a bit of the piano and for school he played the saxaphone and then eventually the 6 and 12 string guitar and like Peter was in a band that consisted of friends and friends of friends.they were really good too but it didnt last long..and they only made 1 album from it..then life happend and they broke up and went their different ways.my brother still plays his guitars every now and then and has passed his gift so his eldest son who also plays like his dad. both are very good at it and my nephew has a band with his friends too. my other nephew plays the drums and the youngest has shown a talent and interest in the piano.almost a full family band..lol.
    unfortunatly I wasnt blessed with any musical talent except for good ears of what sounds awesome and rocks and what doesnt.
    ya know...funny I used to listen to the Dr Demento show..lol...was some weird stuff on there..lol.but it opened me up to alot more variety of music.I tell ya if it wasnt for music Id be lost and be not in a good place. music helped me get through alot and still does. music is and always will be my first and only love.
    anyways, good story..what memories it brought up while reading it. and the pictures of you all singing in the car..lol. thanks for sharing with us..hopefully Peter is watching and listening from above and knows how much he is and was loved very much by many. and is missed alot everyday still too. he may not have realized it but he really did make a difference in this world.just wish he could've made even more of a difference.damn it.
    anywho..until the next blog.. want to wish everybody a good rest of week and weekend. Im gonna be in the hospital for a few days and hopefully will be back soon to read what I missed on here. so till then everybody stay safe and take care.

  16. *LOL* love this story & yep for me too: that's exactly the point why I want to be cremated :-) I did not know the song but there's a song from an Austrian artist about this topic & the contents is a bit similar but it's Austrian dialect ;-) Your family trips in the car sound like big fun & it's great that there was so much fun & creativity all around you when growing up. I like the pic - it's fun. Thx for sharing again & take care.
    Much love & respect

  17. I knew it was from a movie, so of course, I Googled:

    The way we always sang it, is apparently the version from the movie. The worms crawl in...in your stomach and out your mouth. Whenever you see a hearse go by, you know that someday yer gonna die...

    It's pretty cool, how we had alot of the same media influences. We're about the same age.

  18. Rose R from NY now in CA1:00 PM, August 27, 2011

    I know that poem from my past but it was much different:

    If you should see a hearse go by,
    Then you will know you’re the next to die.
    They put you in a wooden box
    And cover you over with dirt and rocks
    Then worms crawl in
    And worms crawl out
    And worms play pinochle on your snout
    And then you turn a sickening green
    And puss comes out like whipping cream
    And me without a spoon!

    Sickending Green...ah ha...Peter's color.
    Peter we appreciate your playfulness, your imagination. You brought stories alive for your family, what a blessing he was to you all. Peter we miss you so much. Much love and respect to you in heaven green man.

  19. As for the origin of the song it dates back to World War 1 in which it was sung by British and American soldiers. It gained more popularity in present times by being included in Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hearse_Song

    If only Pete had covered this with TON... Would've been awesome!