Who struck Billie Patterson
JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Mon May 31 16:14:26 UTC 2004
"Who struck Billy Patterson?" seems to be the more common form (though, frankly, both were equally unfamiliar to me). Here's a use from 1858: "The question is much easier determined, than that long mooted and still unsettled question, viz: 'who struck Billy Patterson?'" Funk v. Israel, 5 Clarke (5 Iowa) 438 (Jan. 12, 1858).
There apparently was a 19th century song named "Billy Patterson," and this doubtless was the source of the phrase's popularity.
I notice that "Who struck Billy Patterson" is referred to in A Tramp Abroad, in Appendix A: The Portier. An annotated edition might provide more information.
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