'Mountain boomer' = hillbilly (fwd)

Rudolph C Troike rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU
Fri Apr 27 03:52:39 UTC 2001

This from one of my colleagues, who is a native of northern Alabama:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 15:51:04 -0700
From: Robert Houston <houston at u.arizona.edu>
To: Rudolph C Troike <rtroike at U.Arizona.EDU>
Subject: Re: 'Mountain boomer' = hillbilly

Dear Rudy,

         I haven't heard of a "mountain boomer."  We just called mountain
folk hillbillies or ridge runners.  But there was a term used in Western
hard-rock mining circles (e.g. Bisbee, eta al) for men who were basically
tramp miners, going from mine to mine and working just long enough to get a
stake to move on.  They were called "ten-day boomers," since 10 days was
about as long as they'd ever stick around.  Whether that's by analogy to
"mountain boomers" or visa versa I don't know, but I've always guessed that
it had something to do with the metaphoric "big noise" they made when they
blew into town.  But as I think about it, I wonder if it "boomer" might
have derived from one of the many languages tramps and tramp miners, often
immigrants, spoke.  Cf. "bindlestiff," for a hobo, with reference to the
"bindle" (Scandinavian?) or bundle that he carried at the end of a stick
over his shoulder.


Robert Houston
Dept. of English/Creative Writing Program
The University of Arizona
Tucson, Az 85721

At 02:10 AM 4/26/01 -0700, you wrote:

>         Ever hear of this?
>         Rudy
>Date:    Wed, 25 Apr 2001 15:05:45 -0400
>From:    Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
>Subject: "mountain boomer"
>The term "mountain boomer" has a few senses referring to various types
>of animals (the red squirrel, the mountain beaver, and the collared
>lizard), and a sense referring to people, = 'hillbilly'. This sense
>only slightly postdatess the 'red squirrel' sense.
>Does anyone have an idea about the derivation of the 'hillbilly'
>sense? The quots in DARE (from Kephart, and a LAGS informant) link it
>to the 'squirrel' sense, but since these quots are so much later than
>either word arose, it could just be a later association with the
>common squirrel word; I don't know if we can actually assume that the
>'hillbilly' sense is a transferred application of the term for a
>squirrel. And what about the _boomer_--DARE suggests (s.v. "boomer,"
>which used alone postdates "mountain boomer" by 20 years) that it's
>from standard _boom_ 'to make a hollow sound', but surely the
>squirrel, or the beaver or the lizard, doesn't make such a sound.
>Jesse Sheidlower

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