wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jan 3 04:15:30 UTC 2005
Thanks, Grant. 1927 is the date to beat, but the context suggests the term was not new then.
Grant Barrett <gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Grant Barrett
Subject: Re: "Seven-Toed Pete"
I found nothing directly related to the origins of the name "seven-toed
There's a serialized story published (1926 George Marsh _Indiana Weekly
Messenger_ "The Valley of Voices," Jan. 21, p.2) about man traveling in
northern Canada where a Frenchman describes the Windigo as having
"seex-seven toe on fore feet"and there's some discussion of putting
one's cards on the table, but only in the "tell me everything" sense,
not in the poker sense. This is just a red herring.
I also found a record of a child "born without a tongue, with six
fingers and a thumb on the left hand, seven on the right hand, and
seven toes on each foot, besides the great toe" in an article referring
to 1761, datelined 19 Feb. at Copenhagen, and published in the _Boston
Weekly News-Letter_ 10 June 1762, p. 2, but it's got nothing to do with
Pete unless the child was named Per. Too early, anyway.
Actual cites, for the record, but also not that helpful:
1927 _Lincoln State Journal_ "Seven Card Poker O.K." p. 14: CONDON,
Ore., June 29--(UP) There is the confirmed poker player who declares
that a dealer calling for "Seven-toed Pete" should be shot but times
change. Now a card player in Condon will be jailed if he plays any
other form of the national pastime. Too much gambling, decided the
Condon city fathers and they passed a law prohibiting "all five-card
games." Other games are permitted.
1931 _Los Angeles Times_ "Draw Poker Systems to Clash in Seattle"(Dec.
16) p. 7: SEATTLE, Dec. 15 (A)--One hundred and fifty hands will be
played and none "of these new-fangled games like 'spit-in-the-ocean,'
'seven-toed Pete' and 'deuces wild' will be permitted."
(Next one is part of a long story about two rich guys gambling with two
poor guys, but there's no relevant history for seven-toed Pete.)
1937 Westbrook Pegler _Washington Post_ "Fair Enough" (Dec. 11) p. 9:
In the hope of stimulating the game, the house just abandoned the
regular rules and began to deal a lot of crazy games like seven-toed
Pete and high-low with red sevens and the one-eyed Jacks wild. "This
ain't poker," one of the rich guys said finally. "This ain't even rummy
or casino or anything. Cash me in. I'm going to quit."
1949 Walter Haight _Washington Post_ "Poker a la Femme: Haight Gets Fan
Letter, Proud of It" (Mar. 1) p. 17: The men in our group who finally
woke up to realize that their wives had muscled permanently on their
Saturday night penny ante game, were pretty sheepish about this
wild-card stuff at first, and every so often would manfully deal a hand
of "real poker," with many a loud remark about the virtues of same. But
you've got to admit that after several rousing rounds of High-Low,
Seven-Toed Pete with deuces wild, straight stud seems colorless and the
pot kind of meager.
(This next one's just a fun story but not in the least about seven-toed
Pete, except for a mention.)
1956 Gene Sherman _L.A. Times_ "Cityside" (May 8) p. 2: All the time
he is having the boys over for a friendly game in the kitchen...Well,
his wife's view of this got dimmer and dimmer until one evening
recently the gentleman and his buddies were dealing in the kitchen she
came in and announced she was taking the kids and driving to L.A. to
her folks' house....The gentleman let her and the kids go, whereupon he
immediately chartered a plane, grabbed the cards and hustled his
buddies into taxi for the airport. When the little woman and her brood
arrived by car at her parents' home here, the gentleman and his buddies
were sitting comfortably in the kitchen, coats off, beer opened,
playing seven-toed Pete. "Cut the cards for luck, honey," the gentleman
greeted his wife. And honestly, she couldn't help bust out laughing.
On Jan 1, 2005, at 17:11, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> "Seven-Toed Pete" is an American and Canadian synonym for seven-card
> stud poker. Can anyone dig up any early cites or lore concerning this
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