Slang and turn of the century references from the musical script by Meredith Willson
Where did the term Lida Rose come from? To the left is a picture of Rose, Willson's mother (sitting with book) and Lida (leaning on boulder), Willson's aunt, taken when they were in their teens. Joan (Jodie) Wyland, (Lida's grandaughter), provided the picture, writing "The original is in a beautiful family scrapbook made by my aunt and along side the picture, she wrote "here are the girls for whom Meredith named his song "Lida Rose", seventy years after this picture was taken on July 19,1889." I'm most proud of my family!" -- Picture used by permission of Joan Wyland, all rights reserved. Click on photo for a larger version.
Last updated: March 14, 2002
The page number from the script is in front of each term. Let me know if you have any questions, or if I missed anything -- Nancy West, Mrs. Paroo, Cottage Grove Theater production of The Music Man, Cottage Grove, Oregon, Spring 2000. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Act I, Scene 1
NOTE: most of these words describing containers, including barrel, also meant a unit of measurement for the item that is stored in the container – i.e. I’d like to purchase a hogshead of wine, or a firkin of butter. It was a British unit of measurement that gradually went out of common usage in the U.S., although the name for the container remained.
1 - notions: Small lightweight items for household use, such as needles, buttons, and thread.
1 - button-hooks: A small hook for fastening a button on shoes or gloves.
1 - cotton goods: bolts of fabric
1 - hard goods: Products that aren't consumed or quickly disposed of, and can be used for several years. Cast iron, metal or ceramic. Also called durable goods.
1 - soft goods: Textiles, clothing, and related articles of trade. Also called dry goods.
2 - fancy goods: fabrics of various colors, patterns, etc., as ribbons, silks, laces, etc., in distinction from those of a simple or plain color or make. Adapted to please the fancy or taste; ornamental.
2 - noggins: A small mug or cup. Also a unit of liquid measure equal to one quarter of a pint.
2 - piggins: A small wooden pail or tub with an upright stave for a handle, -- often used as a dipper.
2 - firkins: A small wooden barrel or covered vessel -- used for butter, lard, etc. Also any of several British units of capacity, usually equal to about 1/4 of a barrel or 9 gallons (34 liters).
2 - hogshead: A large cask or barrel, of indefinite contents. Also any of various units of volume or capacity ranging from 63 to 140 gallons (238 to 530 liters), especially a unit of capacity used in liquid measure in the United States, equal to 63 gallons (238 liters)
2 - cask: A barrel-shaped vessel made of staves headings, and hoops, usually fitted together so as to hold liquids. It may be larger or smaller than a barrel. Also a unit of measurement, referring to the quantity contained in a cask.
2 - demijohn: A large, narrow-necked bottle made of glass or earthenware, usually encased in wickerwork. Commonly holds wine or ale.
2 - flypaper: Paper coated with a sticky, sometimes poisonous substance, used to catch flies.
2 - Model T Ford: When Henry Ford (1863-1947), began selling the Model T in 1909, the world was a much different place than it is now. Horses and wagons were common place. There were no highways, and most roads were still not paved. Shopping malls, "drive thru" restaurants and traffic jams were in the very distant future. But when Henry's "Tin Lizzie" hit the market, it was the beginning of the end of the 'horse and buggy era'. The 'T' was the first car that the average person could afford to buy. It wasn't very fancy, but it was reliable (by the standards of the day) and cheap and easy to fix when it did break down.
2 - two-by-four store: putdown - small or petty of its kind, as in "this house and its two–by–four garden" – Philip Barry
3 - Uneeda Biscuit: The Uneeda Biscuit boy is the story of early American advertising boiled down to a single parable that just happens to be real history. In the early 1890s there were hundreds of hometown bakers putting out generic crackers in barrels with plain cookies in square shipping boxes. Mothers would say, "George, here' s a paper bag. Go down to the store and fill this with crackers." Uneeda was one of the first mass marketed products outside of its region, due to the "sanitary packaging" it promoted as being a step above the cracker barrel in terms of health and convenience. National Biscuit Co. launch the first prepackaged biscuit, Uneeda, with the slogan "Lest you forget, we say it yet, Uneeda Biscuit." Eventually, the company launches the first million-dollar advertising campaign for Uneeda.
3 - sanitary package: first used to describe packaging to keep items like crackers from spoiling. From Encarta: "In 1899 the National Biscuit Company introduced its successful Uneeda Biscuit package. This package is generally considered to have signaled the end of the bulk-merchandising procedures of the country-store era."
3 - cracker barrel: A large, cylindrical container, usually made of staves bound together with hoops, with a flat top and bottom of equal diameter. Holding crackers – a commonly purchased food item. People supposedly would gather round cracker barrels for conversation in old-time general stores.
3 - Mail Pouch cut plug: a popular brand of chewing tobacco, sold in hard plugs that would be cut with a knife. The grocery store owner would use a mechanical device to cut the plug into flakes to sell or make hand-made cigarettes to sell.
3 - sugar barrel: as above for cracker barrel, except holding sugar for sale
3 - pickle barrel: as above for cracker barrel, except holding brine and pickles for sale
3 - milk pan: shallow milk pans with flaring shoulders were common household items until the mid-1800s. Milk was allowed to sit until the cream had risen to the top and could be easily removed with a shallow spoon or skimmer. Glass pans were advertised as "preferable to all others" because they were "non-conductors" and therefore kept the milk "uninfluenced by storms or climate." But milk pans were also made of ceramics. The illustration of a ceramic milk pan titled "Milk Pan" (left ) is rendered by John Tarantino, probably 1940. From the National Gallery of Art. The glass milk pan (right) is from an Illinois State Museum exhibit of household objects, circa 1850.
4 - tierce: A cask larger than a barrel, and smaller than a hogshead or a puncheon, in which salt provisions, rice, etc., are packed for shipment. Also a measure of liquid capacity, equal to a third of a pipe, or 42 gallons (159 liters).
4 - bang beat bell-ringin’: exact meaning unknown, but likely refers to tactics used by traveling carnivals and patent medicine salesmen to draw attention and customers
4 - big haul: seems to refer to money being made by con or criminal activity. Dime novels from this period talked about gangs of criminals planning "the big haul"
4 - great go: passing a test or trial successfully (Slang)
4 - neck-or-nothin’: figure of speech - at all risks, desperately (this term is thought to come from hangings in the western U.S., or from a phrase used in steeplechasing)
4 - rip roarin’: Noisy, lively, and exciting.
4 - every’time-a-bull’s eye: The precise accomplishment of a goal or purpose.
5 - mandolin: A small lutelike instrument with a typically pear-shaped body and a straight fretted neck, having usually four sets of paired strings tuned in unison or octaves.
5 - jews-harp: A lyre-shaped instrument of music, which, when placed between the teeth, gives, by means of a bent metal tongue struck by the finger, a sound which is modulated by the breath. Also called also jaw harp and Jew's-trump.
5 - when the man dances the piper pays him: To pay the piper means "to bear the consequences of something". This twist means Harold Hill never has had to pay for his actions – as a matter of fact, he even profits from them without consequences.
6 - thimble rigger: One who cheats by thimblerigging, or tricks of legerdemain. 1. Also known as a shell game: A game, usually involving gambling, in which a person hides a small object underneath one of three nutshells, thimbles, or cups, then shuffles them about on a flat surface while spectators try to guess the final location of the object. Also called thimblerig. 2. A fraud or deception perpetrated by shifting conspicuous things to hide something else.
6 - neck-bowed Hawkeyes: Iowans from Hawkeye, Iowa in bowties
Act I, Scene 2
8 - rig: slang for any carriage or coach
8 - tank town: A small town. So called because trains would stop there only to replenish water.
9 - grip: A suitcase or valise.
9 - billiards vs. pool
Billiards: Also known as caroom (or carom) billiards, played with three balls (one cue ball and two object balls) on a pocketless table
Pool: Developed much later than billiards. Also known as pocket billiards , using a cue ball and 15 object balls on a table with six pockets
10 - iron clad leave to yourself from a three-rail billiard shot: leave is slang for a favorable position for a stroke in billiards (circa 1850). Three-rail billiard shot refers to the fact that in caroom (or carom) billiards, the cue ball must contact at least 3 cushions before it hits the second object ball in order to score any points. This sentence seems to imply that the player has, through excellent strategy and difficult maneuvers, put the balls in such a position as to give him an excellent shot at making points.
10 - balkline: A line parallel to one end of a billiard table, from behind which opening shots with the cue ball are made.
11 - pinch-back suit: from pinchbeck - serving as an imitation or substitute; "pinchbeck heroism" n : an alloy of copper and zinc that is used in cheap jewelry to imitate gold. Made of pinchbeck; sham; cheap; spurious; unreal.
11 - Jasper: any male fellow or chum, usually a stranger
11 - Trottin’ race vs. Horse race
Trotting race: A horse that trots, especially one trained for harness racing. Very genteel pastime.
Horse race: With a jockey on the horses back, running much quicker than the trotting race.
11 - Dan Patch: (1897-1916) Most famous trotting horse ever, from Indiana. Dan Patch was a pacer, under his second owner he lost only five heats in 56 starts. Dan Patch had his own private railway car to travel in, and at home he lived in a huge barn that was so grand it was called the "Taj Mahal." There is still a trotting competition named for him, and an historical railroad line because "Dan Patch was a famous race horse a hundred years ago, and the railroad was named after him because its tracks between Minneapolis and Northfield passed very close to his owner's farm." There seem to be whole districts in Indiana still named after this horse, and there was a movie called The Great Dan Patch (1949)
11 - Frittern away their time: To reduce or squander little by little: frittered his inheritance away. To waste.
12 - cistern: A receptacle for holding water or other liquid, especially a tank for catching and storing rainwater.
12 - knickerbockers: Full breeches gathered and banded just below the knee (which is why moving them above the knee is such a shocking thing to do)
12 - shirt-tail young ones: 1.Very young: shirttail kids. 2.Of little value; inadequate or small: a shirttail cabin in the woods
12 - Bevo: From Anheuser-Busch. A non-alcoholic drink that tasted like beer. "Anheuser-Busch introduced Bevo, its new nonalcoholic beverage, in 1916 and elsewhere the flood of cereal beverages (near beer) were introduced during the 1917-18 period."
12 - Cubebs: the dried unripe berry of a tropical shrub (Piper cubeba) of the pepper family that is crushed and smoked in cigarettes for as a medicine for catarrh, an inflammation of the nose and throat with increased production of mucus. There were several cubeb cigarettes made--Marshall's Prepared Cubeb Cigarettes are perhaps the best known.
12 - Tailor Mades: A tailor-made cigarette referred to any cigarette made in a factory on a cigarette making machine. A roll-your-own cigarette was made by the smoker from a sack of Bull Durham or the like. James Jones in From Here to Eternity mentioned tailor-mades being smoked by soldiers when they had money. Until 1883 cigarettes were handmade. In 1880 a 21 year old Virginian named James Bonsack invented a cigarette making machine that dramatically increased production. A skilled cigarette roller made 4 cigarettes a minute, whereas Mr. Bonsack's machine turned out 200 a minute. These were called "tailor mades" to distinguish them from handmade cigarettes.
NOTE: So the section talking about the boys down at the pool hall means they are trying to mimic adults, and look as if they are drinking beer and smoking tobacco, although they are drinking fake beer and smoking fake cigarettes.
12 - Sen Sen: When a country swain went courting his rural sweetheart, he often carried in his pocket an unobtrusive little envelope of Sen-Sen. When his younger brother indulged in smoking behind the barn, he too, had use for the exotic little pellets. For Sen-Sen was to the 19th century what breath mints are to our time. Any country store worth its salt, prominently displayed a box of the handy little packets within easy reach of its customers.
12 - Rag-time: A style of jazz characterized by elaborately syncopated rhythm in the melody and a steadily accented accompaniment.
13 - corn crib: A structure for storing and drying ears of corn.
13 - Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang: Started in 1919 (too late for Music Man, but I guess Willson wasn’t worried about that!). From the book Humor Magazines and Comic Periodicals, "Few periodicals reflect the post-World War I cultural change in American life as well as Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang. To some people [it] represented the decline of morality and the flaunting of sexual immodesty; to others it signified an increase in openness. For much of the 1920’s, Captain Billy’s was the most prominent comic magazine in America with its mix of racy poetry and naughty jokes and puns, aimed at a small-town audience with pretensions of ‘sophistication’" This publication was to the male adolescent culture of the 1920s what Playboy was in the 1960s. Quit publishing sometime from 1932-36. This magazine created the foundation for Fawcett Publications, the publishing company that later created True Confessions and Mechanix Illustrated.
13 - swell: Slang – excellent, wonderful, delightful (mid 19th century)
13 - so’s your old man: catch phrase from 1900. An exclamation, used as a retort to an insult or slur.
13 - The Maine: U.S. battleship sunk (Feb. 15, 1898) in Havana harbor, killing 260, in an incident that helped precipitate the Spanish-American War. The cause of the explosion was never satisfactorily explained, and separate American and Spanish inquiries produced different results. But the American jingoistic press blamed the Spanish government, and Remember the Maine became the rallying cry of the war.
14 - Plymouth Rock: Plymouth, Massachusetts, is the oldest settlement in New England, founded in 1620. Plymouth Rock is on the beach where the Mayflower landed.
15 - The Golden Rule: saying of Jesus, from the Bible -- As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Evolved into modern saying – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Act I, Scene 4
16 - Balzac: Honoré de. 1799-1850. French writer and a founder of the realist school of fiction. Among the great masters of the novel. Half starving in a Paris garret, he began his career by writing sensational novels to order under a pseudonym. His great work, called The Human Comedy, written over a 20-year period, is a collection of novels and stories recreating French society of the time, picturing in precise detail individuals of every class and profession. Chief among them are Père Goriot (1835) and Cousin Bette (1847). His short stories include some of the best in the language.
17 - masher: a man who is aggressive in making amorous advances to women [syn: wolf, woman chaser, skirt chaser]
17 - Paul Bunyan: A giant lumberjack who performs superhuman acts in American folklore.
17 - Saint Pat : Saint Patrick - c.385-461, Christian missionary, the Apostle of Ireland. His life is largely obscured by legend. He is said to have been born in Roman Britain and enslaved by the Irish until he escaped to Gaul. He studied at Auxerre and later returned as a missionary to Ireland, where he made many converts. In 444 or 445 he established his archiepiscopal see at Armagh with the approval of Pope Leo I. By his death, Ireland was Christianized. The prime source of his life is the Confessions, written during his last years. Feast: Mar. 17.
17 - Noah Webster: 1758-1843. American lexicographer whose Spelling Book (1783) helped standardize American spelling. His major work, An American Dictionary of the English Language, was originally published in 1828.
Act I, Scene 5
22 - pest house: A hospital for patients affected with plague or other infectious disease.
24 - Gilmore: Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore (pictured below), known as the "Father of the American Band". Gilmore, a musical soloist in his own right, came from Ireland in 1848, carrying ideas about instrumentation and interpretation from the European bands. With his "new" ideas and a penchant for showmanship, he soon redefined the course of American band music for all time to come. He was especially interested in the advancement of community bands. Wrote many songs, including When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Good News from Home, We are Coming Father Abraham, Seeing Nellie Home, and Famous 22nd Regiment March.
24 - Liberatti: Alessandro Liberati, 1847-1927. Born in Italy, played in the Cacciatori Band of Rome. 1872 came to U.S., became a U.S. citizen, and directed his own band that toured the U.S. from 1889-1919 and 1921-23. He also directed the Canadian artillery band at Ottawa, and was a featured soloist with Baldwin’s Cadet Band of Boston.
24 - Pat Conway: Patrick Conway, 1865-1929. 1900-08, Director of the Ithaca N.Y. Municipal Band, which later became famous as the Conway Band. Toured and performed around the U.S. at the same time as Sousa’s band. During WWI, was the first U.S. Air Corps bandmaster. In 1922 started the Conway Band School in Ithaca.
24 - The Great Creatore: Giuseppe C. Creatore 1871-1952. Directed the Naples Municipal Band in Naples Italy. Came to the U.S. in 1899. Organized his own band, Creatore’s Orchestra, which toured and performed around the U.S. at the same time as Sousa’s band, and continued performing until 1947.
24 - W.C. Handy: 1873-1958, African-American songwriter and bandleader; b. Florence, Ala. He was among the first to set down the blues and became famous with Memphis Blues and St. Louis Blues.
24 - John Philip Sousa: 1854-1932, American bandmaster and composer; b. Washington, D.C. Gilmore’s successor. He improved the instrumentation and quality of band music. From 1880 to 1892 he led the U.S. Marine Band and in 1892 formed his own band and successfully toured the world. He wrote some 100 marches, many immensely popular, e.g., Semper fidelis (1888) and The Stars and Stripes Forever (1897). Wrote a book called Marching Along – Recollections of men, women and music.
25 - battery: Music: the percussion section; Navy: the heavy guns of a warship.
25 - double bell euphoniums: A duplex instrument is played by one performer, but has the characteristics of two different instruments; the performer is free to choose which of the two he wishes the duplex to be. Many other valved bugle horns have found themselves Siamese-twinned with other brass, but it has been a success only with the euphonium. Patrick S. Gilmore's soloist Harry Whittier was probably the first player to adopt the instrument (in 1888), followed a year later by Sousa's solo euphoniumist Michael Raffayalo. The double-belled instrument, with a fifth valve controlling the choice of tone, was popular not only with soloists but with tutti players as well. There are some wonderful newsreel shots of the Sousa Band showing a rank of upward-belled Sousaphones and a front line including double bell euphoniums.
Double bell euphonium
25 - Frank Gotch and Strangular Lewis lay on the mat for three and a half hours without moving a muscle: Frank Alvin Gotch (1878 - 1917) – "The World's Greatest Wrestler|" and Ed "Strangler" Lewis (1891 - 1966) From a 1913 newspaper report: "By aid of what is termed the 'neck yoke' in wrestling parlance, Ed 'The Strangler' Lewis of Lexington, Ky., bids fair to become one of the greatest heavyweight wrestlers America ever has produced. It is not improbable that at some future date the crown so ably worn by Frank Gotch, the Humboldt, Iowa, farmer, may rest on the head of the Kentuckian, for he is only a 'kid' in years as well as in the mat game, and still has plenty of time to 'grow.'"
Frank Gotch -- Professional Wrestling Online Museum Biography
Ed "The Strangler" Lewis -- Profssional Wrestling Online Museum Biography
25 - Jeely Kly: This is a regional phrase used as a more acceptable version of "Jesus Christ". Similar substitutes listed in slang dictionaries include Jeazle Peats, Jeezly, jeasley, jeasly, Jee!, Gee! Jee whizz! Jee Whillikins, and Jeasusly.
25 - day laborer: a laborer who works by the day; for daily wages
26 - hear from me till who laid the rails: exact origin unknown, but there are several other variations of the "hear from me until…" phrase that mean, you’ll be hearing about this for a long time, or I won’t forget this anytime soon and you’re going to know it.
27 - Ye Gods: Short for the phrase "Ye gods and little fishes" – a curse, or a mock oath or exclamation. A lower and lower middle class catch phrase indicative of contempt. A derisive or humorous exclamation, "mocking a theatrical appeal to the gods." This phrase was used in Ulysses, by James Joyce: "Ten minutes, Martin Cunningham said, looking at his watch Molly. Milly. Same thing watered down. Her tomboy oaths. O jumping Jupiter! Ye gods and little fishes! Still, she's a dear girl. Soon be a woman."
Act I, Scene 6
30 - conservatory: 1: A public place of instruction, designed to preserve and perfect the knowledge of some branch of science or art, esp. music. 2: The faculty and students of a school specializing in one of the fine arts. 3: a schoolhouse with special facilities for fine arts.
31- For no Diana do I play faun: Diana is the Roman Goddess of the hunt, the moon, forests, animals, and women in childbirth. Both a virgin goddess and an earth goddess, she was identified with the Greek Artemis. Some legends have Diana marrying Faunus, in Roman myth, woodland deity, protector of herds, and crops; identified with the Greek Pan. He was attended by fauns - mischievous creatures, half man, half goat, with short horns, pointed ears, tails and goat's feet (the counterparts of the Greek satyrs).
32 - for Hester to win just one more “A”: Nathaniel Hawthorne novel The Scarlet Letter (1850), a novel about the adulterous Puritan Hester Prynne. Hester wore a red letter “A” sewn to the front of her dress as punishment when she had a child with a man other than her husband. Regarded as Hawthorne’s masterpiece and as one of the classics of American literature.
32 - On the que veev: misspelling of French phrase "on the qui vive", meaning on the alert; vigilant: "a loathsome Dublin politico who is on the qui vive for . . . terrorists" (Julian Moynahan). . The phrase developed from the challenge of a French sentry at his lookout post to an approaching stranger, "qui vive?" meaning "long live who?", a challenge to determine a person's political sympathies. Date: 1726
32 - pianola: a trademark kind of player piano; Pianola. a mechanically operated piano that uses a roll of perforated paper to activate the keys [syn: mechanical piano, Pianola, player piano]
33 - Del Sarte: Francois Del Sarte, 1811–71, French teacher of acting and singing. He studied singing (1825–29) at the Paris Conservatoire and appeared as a tenor at the Opéra-Comique, but faulty training had damaged his voice. Delsarte formulated certain principles of aesthetics that he applied to the teaching of dramatic expression. He set up rules coordinating the voice with the gestures of all parts of the body. In 1839 he opened his first cours d’esthétique appliqué, and his advice was sought by many famous artists, e.g., Rachel, Henriette Sontag, and W. C. Macready. Steele MacKaye studied with him in Delsarte’s last years and brought to the United States the Delsarte system, to which he had added many of his own ideas, including elements of gymnastics. Some of Delsarte’s writings are included in the compilation Delsarte System of Oratory (1893).
33 - Chaucer: Geoffrey Chaucer, c.1340-1400. English poet regarded as the greatest literary figure of medieval England. His works include The Book of the Duchess (1369), Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1385), and his masterwork, The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400). This unfinished work, about 17,000 lines, is one of the major poems of world literature. In it a group of pilgrims traveling to the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket decide to pass the time by telling stories. The tales include a variety of medieval genres, from the humorous fabliau to the serious homily, and vividly depict medieval attitudes toward love, marriage, and religion.
33 - Raballaise: misspelling of Francois Rabelais - 1494?-1553. One of the great comic geniuses of literature. French humanist and writer of satirical attacks on medieval scholasticism and superstition, most notably Pantagruel (1532) and Gargantua (1534). The work, in five books, is as gigantic in scope as the physical size of its heroes. Beneath its broad, often ribald humor are serious discussions of education, politics, philosophy, and religion. The breadth of Rabelais's learning and his zest for life are evident. The work was condemned by the Sorbonne, however, and Rabelais was saved from persecution for heresy only by the protection of his friend, Cardinal Jean du Bellay.
Act I, Scene 7
36 - Steelies: A type of marble. A shooter made out of steel that can be either solid or hollow. These were preferred by players because their density could easily knock glass marbles out of a ring. However, they were banned from tournament play. Many steelies are merely ball bearings, but some are handmade hollow spheres that required a great deal of time to make.
36 - Aggies: A type of marble. A shooter made from the mineral, agate. These marbles were the choice of marble shooters for many years, because of their ability to knock glass marbles out of the ring. Many hand-cut agates exhibit exquisite and complicated natural designs.
36 - PeeWees: A type of marble. A smaller marble that is 1/2" or less in diameter.
36 - Glassies: A type of marble. Glassies are glass marbles, either handmade or machine-made; and are the most common type of marble used.
36 - carrion: decaying flesh of a dead body.
Act I, Scene 10
39 - name of St. Bridget: Irish abbess; a patron saint of Ireland
39 – O’Clark, O’Mendez, O’Klein: These three famous musicians were definitely not Irish. Clark was Canadian, Mendez was Mexican, and Klein was Jewish. See below. Harold is just adding an O’ in front of their names to make them sound Irish so he can make the sale.
Herbert L. Clarke (1867-1945) -- Herbert Lincoln Clarke, acknowledged to be the greatest cornetist of his time, was certainly the most celebrated. Not only was he a virtuoso cornet player, but “an excellent composer, an accomplished violinist, a prolific and highly talented arranger for band, and a most distinguished band conductor” [Johnston]. As well, he wrote several study books for the cornet which are still used today. In the spring of 1892 he left Canada once again, after successfully auditioning for the Gilmore Band. In 1893, he joined Sousa’s Band as a cornet soloist. After playing at the Chicago Exposition in the same year, he left to play with various other bands, continuing to do so over the next five years. In 1898 he returned to Sousa’s Band, with whom he toured extensively, and later became Sousa’s assistant director, conducting the band in many recording sessions. He resigned from Sousa’s band in September of 1917 and returned to Canada to lead the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company Band in Huntsville, Ontario from 1918 to 1923. Under Clarke’s leadership, this band became one of the most celebrated commercial bands in North America.
Rafael Méndez (1906-1981), a famed Hollywood trumpet soloist and composer, was born in Jiquilpan, Michoacan, Mexico into a large musical family (one of 15 children). He began the trumpet at age five with lessons from his father, a respected band leader. Méndez’ childhood was a colorful one that saw him become the personal trumpeter of the famed Mexican bandit, General Pancho Villa. After moving to the U.S., he enjoyed tremendous success as he quickly became widely recognized as the “World’s Greatest Trumpeter.” Mr. Méndez was featured on the television shows of Ed Sullivan, Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby, Red Skelton, Milton Berle and Art Linkletter. Mr. Méndez was trumpeter with the orchestras of MGM Studios, Rudy Valee and David Rose; was Roy Rogers’ bandleader; recorded 12 solo albums for Decca records and received a star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame”. At the height of his success in the thirties and forties, Méndez performed between 125 and 165 solo appearances every year.
Mannie Klein was a trumpet player who was comfortable playing both jazz and classical music. He was well-known as one of the busiest sidemen on the West Coast, and played with numerous famous bands.
40 - St. Michael’s own way with you: A charismatic character that draws people to him. St. Michael, the archangel, was especially honored and invoked as a patron and protector of the Church.
40 - hod-carrying: A kind of wooden tray with a handle, borne on the shoulder, for carrying mortar, brick, etc.
40 - clay-pipe smokin’: a pipe made of clay; commonly used in Ireland
40 - shamrock-wearin’: A trifoliate plant used as a national emblem by the Irish. The legend is that St. Patrick once plucked a leaf of it for use in illustrating the doctrine of the trinity.
40 - harp-playin’: Music. An instrument consisting of an upright, open triangular frame with usually 46 strings of graded lengths played by plucking with the fingers. The Irish harp was a common instrument in Irish folk music.
40 - Mavorneen-pinchin’: ma·vour·neen also ma·vour·nin -- My darling; -- an Irish term of endearment for a girl or woman.
40 - Tara’s hall minstrel-singin’: Song by Moore, Thomas 1779-1852, Irish poet. His Irish Melodies (1808-34) include The Harp that Once through Tara's Halls. Tara was a village of eastern Ireland northwest of Dublin. It was the seat of Irish kings from ancient times until the sixth century A.D.
40 - Be-gob: "By God" - a corrupted form of begorra(h), an Anglo-Irish coloquialism meaning "by God" or "by Jesus"
40 - Be-jabbers: "by Jesus" – also a corrupted form of begorra (h)
40 - Hodado: unknown – not listed as a slang term. Probably short for How do you do?
42 - Lancelot: French knight. Friend of King Arthur and bravest and most celebrated of the Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian legend until (according to some versions of the legend) he became the lover of Arthur's wife Guinevere.
42 - Venus: Roman goddess of love and beauty; Aphrodite in Greek mythology
Act I, Scene 11
43 - Epworth League: Methodist youth group, extremely popular in rural America in the 1890's and early 1900's.
43 - Black Hole of Calcutta: Small, airless detention cell in Fort William (Calcutta, India) where 123 of 146 prisoners died after an overnight stay in 1756 (Seven Year's War).
44 - The Wells Fargo Wagon: Since 1852, the Wells Fargo stagecoach has been a symbol of reliable service. Over one hundred years ago, their stages traveled across thousands of miles of desert, prairie, and mountain roads to deliver mail and cash.
45 - mackinaw: 1: a short plaid coat made of made of thick woolen material [syn: Mackinaw coat] 2: a thick plaid blanket formerly used in NW US [syn: Mackinaw blanket] 3: a flat-bottomed boat used on upper Great Lakes [syn: Mackinaw boat] 4: a heavy woolen cloth heavily napped and felted, often with a plaid design
45 - C.O.D.: "Cash on Delivery"; merchandise sent with the expectation of payment upon receipt
46- DAR: Daughters of the American Revolution, a patriotic society founded 1890 in Washington, D.C., and open to women with ancestors who aided the American Revolution.
47 - Tempus fugits: Latin for "time flies"
Act II, Scene 1
Shipoopi - I’ve never found a reference to anything like this in any slang dictionary. I think Meredith Willson made it up. Let me know if you’ve heard of it!
51 - It’s Capulets like you make blood in the marketplace: reference to Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet (1596). Romeo, the young heir of the Montagues, attends the great ball of the Capulets in disguise and falls in love with Juliet, the daughter of the house. During a street brawl in the marketplace, Romeo’s friend Mercutio is killed by Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, and Romeo in turn kills Tybalt.
52 - What does the Poet say? The coward dies a thousand deaths – the brave man only 500: The correct quote is “Cowards die many times before their deaths; / The valiant never taste of death but once” -- William Shakespeare, from Julius Caesar.
53 - Bach's conception of the Well-Tempered Clavichord: a clavichord is a stringed musical instrument with keyboard; similar to a harpsichord. The Well-Tempered Clavier or Clavichord is a musical composition by Bach. It is a set of preludes and fugues, or musical exercises, that uses all the major and minor keys of the keyboard. The popularity of this system, used to show off the way a particular 'clavier' was tuned, resulted in pianos and clavichords being tuned the way they are today. In Bach's time the word 'clavier' did not denote any keyboard instrument in particular but meant either harpsichord, clavichord, spinet, virginal, or even the organ.
Act II, Scene 2
55 - the Redpath Circuit: The purpose of the lyceum movement (started in Massachusetts as early as 1826) was self-improvement by lectures and discussions on literary, scientific, and moral topics. After the Civil War, commercial lecture bureaus were founded, among them the Redpath Lyceum Bureau of James C. Redpath in 1868. In the next ten years such famous names as Susan B. Anthony, P. T. Barnum, Henry Ward Beecher, James G. Blaine, Wilkie Collins, Mark Twain, and Ralph Waldo Emerson were represented by the Redpath Bureau. Lyceums continued to exist into the twentieth century, although by 1925 they were found for the most part only in small towns, often in combination with musical programs.
Act II, Scene 3
61 - tintype: A positive photograph made directly on an iron plate varnished with a thin sensitized film. Also called a ferrotype.
Act II, Scene 4
68 - Hector Berlioz: 1803-1869. French composer and leading representative of romanticism in French music. His works include Symphonie Fantastique (1830), Romeo and Juliet (1839), and the opera The Trojans (1855-1858).
68 - cat-boat in a hurricane: A small sailboat, with a single mast placed as far forward as possible, carrying a sail extended by a gaff and long boom. Easily tossed around by rough waters.
68 - Buster Brown: Buster Brown the comic strip, first appeared in color in 1902. Buster Brown was "an incorrigible scamp. Each Sunday page ended with a promise to mend his mischievous manners." He "dressed like a sissy, but was a rough and tumble kid at heart." Buster and his dog, Tige, remained a popular comic and soon became even more famous as the emblem for a shoe company, a textile firm, and others. The strip was discontinued in 1920.
Act II, Scene 5
70 - clink: A prison cell; a lockup; -- probably orig. the name of the noted prison in Southwark, England.
70 - Lilligags me around: To waste time by puttering aimlessly; dawdle (same as lollygag and lallygag)
70 - doxy: A loose wench; a disreputable sweetheart.
70 - round-heel: An easy woman
70 - fiz gig: A gadding, flirting girl. From gig - A playful or wanton girl, which is from the Old English term giglot - A wanton; a lascivious or light, giddy girl.
Act II, Scene 7
76 - cote a ‘Shropshyre sheep: cote is a small shed or shelter for sheep or birds, so the reference is to a shed full of sheep. Shropshire is a large, hornless, black-faced sheep of a breed developed in Shropshire England, and raised for meat and wool.
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© 2001 Mike Jones and Nancy West All rights reserved.