"Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am"

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Wed Oct 23 06:25:38 UTC 2002

Fred Shapiro wrote:
> Here is a question for Jesse and Barry and anyone else on the list:  Does
> anyone have any solid or at least semi-solid information on the antiquity
> of the phrase "wham bam thank you ma'am"?
> Fred Shapiro

I'm pretty sure I heard it as part of a joke ca. 1950. I'm dead certain
I heard it repeatedly while I was in the army, 1951-1953.

The joke starts by describing a happy jackrabbit bouncing through the
forest, screwing every bunny he found in record time and saying "wham
bam thank you ma'am" as he bounced off to find a new conquest. The
denoument went something like this: Then the jackrabbit came to a garden
with an iron statue of a bunny. He tried to do his thing, but staggered
away saying "wham bam GODDAMN, ma'am!"

All right, it wasn't very funny -- but it usually got a laugh anyhow.

I don't recall hearing the phrase applied to the effect of driving over
potholes, or its derivative application to potholes themselves, until
the 1980s.

There was a parallel story about a bear running through the forest
saying "I'm a ready teddy" until he hit on a bear statue -- after which
he said "I'm a ruined bruin".

--  mike salovesh     <m-salovesh-9 at alumni.uchicago.edu>     PEACE !!!

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