a (non-sub rosa?) 1919 "Poontang"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sat Jun 6 14:05:25 UTC 2009

Headline: High School Notes; Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Evening News, published as The Evening News; Date: 03-28-1919; Volume:
71; Issue: 71; Page: Six; column 1 [Am. Historical Newspapers] Location: San
Jose, California:

The following men will journey to Berkeley to combat [in basketball]
the John C. Freemont five: "Pesky" Rhyne, "Poontang" Cunningham, "Razza" [later
mentioned as "Razz"] Howell, "Sammyboy" Anderson, "Clam" Sutherland, and "Texos"
[sic] Driscoll.

This newspaper account joins earlier listings of "Poontang Club" perhaps in
apparent unembarassed use before the word took on the (OED) definition,
"Sexual intercourse, sex; copulation." What did it mean to Cunningham and

Though the song "Oh! Mister Mitchell" (in the archives from Douglas A. Wilson)
by Spenser Williams was recorded in New York in 1929 after uses by Th. Wolfe (in
O, Lost) and John O'Hara, it may have been written and sung earlier than
the Wolfe and O'Hara uses, given its topical references to General then Mister
Billy Mitchell, who resigned in 1926, and "Lindy Lou," Lindbergh and the Spirit
of Saint Louis 1927 (as suggested in the archives).

Stephen Goranson

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list