"Big Apple" whores are gone!! (the continuing saga)

bapopik at AOL.COM bapopik at AOL.COM
Tue Apr 11 18:17:07 UTC 2006

The "Big Apple Whore Hoax" is gone!
In 1995, Peter Salwen's website stated that "the Big Apple" came from a French whore in the early 19th century. This hoax would be cited by the New York Public Library, New York Historical Society, Museum of the City of New York, Big Apple Fest 2004, and newspapers and websites throughout the world. My website was started in 2004 to correct the record for an internet age.
It appears that Salwen has changed everything in the past week.
Salwen's new website states:
"Various accounts have traced the 'Big Apple' expression to 
Depression-Era sidewalk apple vendors, a Harlem night 
club, and a popular 1930s dance known as the 'Big Apple.' 
One fanciful version even links the name with a notorious 
19th-century procuress!"
There is no mention, of course, that this last "theory" had been offered by Salwen himself.
Some photos are taken from my website. As has been the case through all this, I'm mentioned, but my name is spelled wrong:
"In FitzGerald’s honor (and due largely to the strenuous efforts 
of attorney-etymologist Barry Popick, who, like the columnist, 
had migrated to NYC from upstate New York) a street sign 
reading 'Big Apple Corner' was installed at Broadway and 
West 54th Street in 1997, near the hotel where FitzGerald died 
in poverty in 1963—although a location near the old Telegraph 
office might arguably have been a happier spot for it."
Salwen, if he is to be trusted, has at least added something. He provides us with another witness--Joe Zito--who confirms the documentary evidence and the previous witness (the late Shirley Povich, et al.):
“In the early 1930s I got my first job as a rewrite man and a 
copy reader for the Morning Telegraph. The Telegraph at that 
time was situated on West 24th Street, and the site is now 
part of the parking lot of the huge Penn South complex.

John FitzGerald—we called him Jack—was the feature writer 
for the paper, and he covered the races in New York State. At 
that time, in addition to Belmont Park and Aqueduct, there was 
Jamaica Race Track, the Empire City Track up in Yonkers 
[now Yonkers Raceway], and of course Saratoga.

Jack was the first writer to use the term ‘The Big Apple’ in 
print, maybe ten years before I started at the paper—in fact, 
he called his regular column ‘Around the Big Apple.’ He told us 
that he had heard it from the Black stable boys at who 
followed the horses to the small quarter-mile tracks in New 
Orleans and all over the East and the Middle West.

They were so glad now to come to New York, where the big 
money was. The city was so huge to them and so full of 
opportunity that they called it the ‘Big Apple.’”
Well, I guess it's nice to know that this insane chapter of 11 years is over. It never should have occurred. It resulted in our not knowing the black stablehand's name and not giving credit where it is due. Witnesses have died.
The last chapter, as I've said many times, is to explain "Big Apple Corner" with a plaque at that site, and for New York City to officially honor "the Big Easy" and the African-American stablehand, who is surely the father or grandfather of someone still living.
Since Hurricane Katrina, I have redoubled my efforts to honor the New Orleans stablehand. I wrote to NY Marketing. Could this at least be under a Snapple bottlecap? There was no reply.
I wrote to my new city councilman (who knew who I was; we met before a debate) and every other member of the City Council's Cultural Affairs Committee. No one replied.
I wrote to the new Manhattan Borough President. He absolutely knew who I was and what I'd been through for a mere fifteen years. (There is a Manhattan Borough Historian in that office; I first wrote 15 years ago.) Shamelessly, there was no reply. 
I guess the death of the "Big Apple Whore Hoax" (after eleven years) is one small step for man. 
But that New Orleans stablehand must be honored and, if possible, identified. For the life of me, I don't know why it's been so hard and I've suffered so much for so long.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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