"booster" = shoplifter, antedating to 1911; also "stuss-house" (?)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Jul 1 14:47:10 UTC 2011

The OED has "booster" = shoplifter (sense 3) from 1912.  A minor
antedating to 1911.

Pearson's Magazine, Vol. 26 No. 3 (September, 1911), page 354
(confirmed from download):

"Some said he was in Detroit giving professional aid to a gifted
booster. The latter was of the feminine gender, and aside from her
admitted genius for shoplifting, was acclaimed the quickest hand with
a hanger---by which you are to understand that outside pendant purse
wherewith women equip themselves as they go forth to shop---of all
the gon-molls [sic] between the two oceans."

The article is titled "The Apaches of New York: How Alma's Baby Lost
its Fingers," by Alfred Henry Lewis, and might have other interesting
slang of crime.  "Hanger" in this particular sense I don't find in
the OED.  "Gon-moll" is close but no cigar except as a variant
spelling; the OED has "Agun-moll, a woman thief." in 1908.  [Sic;
should there be a space between "A' and "gun"?]  I see in passing on
page 352 "stuss-house", not in the OED.


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