Sunday throat (1905); Peas with a knife (1828); Ears lowered (1947)

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue May 4 01:16:41 UTC 2004

In my childhood in the East-Texas town of Marshall, I often saw our
family's visiting "country-folk" relatives pour hot liquids from the
cup into the saucer and then sip from the saucer. I was astounded when
I first saw it, since this act was already such a standard put-down of
the hick lifestyle (early '40's) that I didn't believe that anyone
actually did it in real life. After that, I wouldn't have been
surprised to see these relatives eat peas with a knife (likewise
already a well-known put-down), but I never actually saw it done. I
agree that representations of these customs were a staple of cartoons
of the day, e.g. "L'il Abner," by Al Capp. But my feeling is that these
cartoons, etc. were meant to ridicule the folkways of hicks and yokels,
especially those of the South.

On May 3, 2004, at 8:24 PM, George Thompson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Sunday throat (1905); Peas with a knife (1828); Ears
> lowered
>               (1947)
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> In the humor of the early 20th C, (I'm thinking of cartoons here,
> maybe,) a touchstone of commonness was eating peas balanced on the
> blade of a knife -- that, and pouring coffee into the saucer to cool,
> then drinking it from the saucer.
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African
> Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Barbara Need <nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU>
> Date: Monday, May 3, 2004 10:59 am
> Subject: Re: Sunday throat (1905); Peas with a knife (1828); Ears
> lowered (1947)
>>>      I eat my peas with honey
>>>      I've done it all my life
>>>      It makes the peas taste funny
>>>      But they sure stay on my knife.
>>> Source unknown.  I heard it from my father sometime in the 1950's
>> and I don't
>>> recall having heard it from anyone else.
>>>          - Jim Landau
>> I heard from my father in the 60s and 70s. (Variant: lns 3-4 They may
>> taste kinda funny/but it keeps them on my knife.) I will ask him
>> where and when he first heard it.
>> Barbara Need
>> UChicago--Linguistics

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