And in (additional) honor of the Giants' World Series win...

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 4 14:26:20 UTC 2010

The ADS archive contains discussions of "Chinese fire drill". I think
the following is the earliest cite found in 2005:

RHDAS has 1952(Leon Uris).  They have an indirect cite from "1942-45"  which
has the same meaning but says "fouled up like a Filipino at  fire-drill."

>From June 5, 1946, The Coshocton(OH) Tribune, p.8 (the  sports page--ed.)

"As far as Burton was concerned, everything was fouled  up like a
Chinese fire drill as Hogan finished with his plus 51 to lead  Lloyd

Here is a promising raw match in Google Books for "Chinese fire
drill". Unverified but WorldCat agrees with the date. The snippet
displayed by GB does not show the target text:

PT boat: Bob Reed wins his command at Melville
Henry Bolles Lent - 1943 - 171 pages - Snippet view
"That's a load off my mind, believe me!" Bob exclaimed. "I was certain
that I had one of my navigation equations in the test fouled up like a
Chinese fire drill." "Maybe so — but you made the grade," Bill

On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 10:02 AM, David A. Daniel <dad at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "David A. Daniel" <dad at POKERWIZ.COM>
> Subject:      Re: And in (additional) honor of the Giants' World Series win...
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I would imagine that the Chinese being users and purveyors of opium is right
> up there among the top five or so factors of stereotype considered by most
> Americans. Everyone who has ever seen a western movie knows that the Chinese
> live in tents on the outskirts of town and run the local opium den where the
> bad guys are often found and where they often get their comeuppance (lesson
> to be learned: don't be a bad guy, and stay away from evil Chinese drug
> dens). I don't know why you would think that anyone who is not a PhD in
> history would know any correct details of the Opium Wars. It was a British
> problem after all and all they got was Hong Kong and they had to give that
> back anyway. Big waste of time if you ask me. As to Chinese home runs: never
> heard of them before seeing it here. However, when I was a teenager we used
> to hold Chinese fire drills at stoplights or in traffic jams. Four guys all
> burst out of the car at once, run around it in a complete circle and get
> back in the same doors they came out of. Chinese fire drill. Now there's
> something that is worth knowing about.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
> Paul Frank
> Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2010 11:21 AM
> Subject: Re: And in (additional) honor of the Giants' World Series win...
> :      Re: And in (additional) honor of the Giants' World Series win...
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---
> Hi Jonathan,
> I got that but I thought that the notion that the Chinese were opium
> dealers was the strangest of the stereotypes, because I presume that
> most Americans in the early 20th century heard of the Opium Wars.
> Paul
> On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 2:05 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at>
> wrote:
>> I said stereotype.
>> JL
>> On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 7:53 AM, Paul Frank
> <paulfrank at>wrot=
>> e:
> ...
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
>> ------
>>> On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 12:30 PM, Jonathan Lighter
>>> <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
>>> > The popular American stereotype of the Chinese in the early 20th C. was
>>> not
>>> > that they were "cheap," but that they were inscrutable, violent,
> probab=
>> ly
>>> > unassimilable, often sinister, users and purveyors of opium, eaters of
>>> dogs,
>>> > cats, and rats, atheistic, extremely prolific, and occasionally
> possess=
>> ed
>>> of
>>> > odd but profound wisdom unattainable by anybody else. =C2 (Thus Earl D.
>>> > Biggers' Charlie Chan, inspired by a real detective, was a giant step
>>> > forward in ethnic understanding.)
>>> Purveyors of opium? The Chinese fought, and lost, two wars to try to
>>> stop British opium trafficking.
>>> Paul
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