sweep the kitchen
george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Feb 27 23:31:33 UTC 2004
Back in July '03 Barry posted long lists of terms from "hash house slang" from newspapers. One, from 1931, a posting headed "Graveyard Stew", had the term "sweep the kitchen" as the call for an order of hash. Another, I think under the heading "hash house slang" was from 1886 and included jocular derogatory/disgusting names for dishes, (so the tradition is old,) but not "sweep the kitchen".
The girl from Rector's, by George Rector, Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Page, 1927, is reminiscences by an early 20th C. NYC restauranteur. I was looking at it because a cabaret he ran in the 1910s, also called Rector's, had an early jazz band. Nothing very useful in that respect, but he mentions the vaudeville team of Smith & Dale, and their act involving a surly and incompetent waiter and a hassled customer. The customer orders hash, the waiter calls out "sweep the kitchen". (p. 221.)
According to The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville by Anthony Slide, Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press, 1994, Smith and Dale met in 1898 when teenagers, and began their restaurant sketch in 1919.
Is there anyone among us old enough to remember Smith and Dale appearing on the Ed Sullivan show in the 1950s? -- other than me and Mike Salovesh, if he is still following our comical misadventures here -- it's been far too long since we have heard from him.
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.
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