Saturday, November 22, 2008

*WHAT* Did You Say??

So these three coons walk into a bar…

Before you call the NAACP, the ACLU or start throwing rocks at my house, allow me to say that coons are farmers. It’s a shortened form of “raccoons,” which is what farmers used to be called a century and change ago. I don’t know why; they just were.

They were also called “jays,” a shortened form of blue jays; like raccoons, never found in the cities, but only out in the sticks. These farmers, or jays, would cross streets any way they wanted and the city folk called it “jay walking,” or walking like jays.

The term “jays” only exists now in “jaywalking,” which will get you a ticket from a cop. “Coon,” which referred to farmworkers black or white, has become a nasty word for black people in the last 75-100 years and is not, or should not, be used.

Words change their meaning over time. I did research for an article and, in the process, saw an ad from a Boston newspaper, circa 1820, looking for a “lusty Indian woman” who had stolen a quilt. “Lusty,” in those days, was pretty close to what we would call “big boned” now; she was not coming on like Mae West.

People used to make love in city parks all the time, back when that meant nothing more than romancing; Bing Crosby had an early recording, “Gay Love,” which had nothing to do with gays. Anyway, these 'coons were jaywalking…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

would it be wonderful if people knew a little more and remembered a little more, I don't think you would have as much nonsense in the world.

November 24, 2008 4:18 PM  

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