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

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Nov 4 19:54:25 UTC 2010

In the early and mid 19th C, at least, opium was a widely used recreational drug, in the form of laudanum (opium dissolved in alcohol, I believe) or pills.   Smoking the stuff was a novelty.

Inhaling ether was not only a recreational drug, but was administered on stage, for the entertainment of an audience.

Our ancestors knew how to get high and have fun.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>
Date: Thursday, November 4, 2010 1:37 pm
Subject: Re: And in (additional) honor of the Giants' World Series win...

> All you say is true, but it also ignores the fact that Opium would not
> have been well known either, at least, not in anything other than
> medical sense (and that also would have been somewhat geared toward the
> more educated).
>      VS-)
> On 11/4/2010 10:37 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > Paul, only a minority of American adults a century ago could boast
> even a
> > high-school diploma. (My grandfather, born in 1884, was the first
> member of
> > his family to have one, and he was very proud of it.)  I imagine
> that a
> > higher proportion of the population in, say, 1905, was consciously aware
> > that there had been *something* called an Opium War than today,
> because the
> > new prominence of  China in American consciousness resulting from
> the Boxer
> > Rebellion meant that newspapers and magazines would be more likely
> to allude
> > to it. I doubt they cared very much. As DAD said, that was an "English"
> > problem, and before 1914 not many Americans cared much for the English
> > anyway. (Except for Kipling amnd Shakespeare, they were snooty, snobbish,
> > and superior, with no sense of humor.)  I doubt that baseball fans,
> as a
> > group, had any notion of what the Opium Wars were all about.
> >
> > I might add to the list of stereotypes that a very high proportion of
> > Chinese were thought to be near-sighted because of their "slanty" eyes.
> > Except for Tong assassins ("hatchetmen") and 19th C. railway labor,
> the
> > Chinese were also thought to be short and fairly puny (now there's a
> > possible source of "Chinese home run"). Chinese crimelords were also
> > believed to kidnap white women for the white-slave traffic.  Chinese
> women,
> > on the other hand, were meek and completely passive.  Their vaginas
> were
> > said to be horizontal.  Perhaps because Chinese men traditionally
> wore a
> > queue (pigtail), the Chinese were also sometimes said to have had real
> > tails.
> >
> > As I said before, Charlie Chan was a giant step forward.
> >
> > JL
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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