African Dodgers

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 3 07:27:10 UTC 2011

On Sun, Oct 2, 2011 at 7:14 AM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at> wrote:
> I don't know. Searching for the term "artful dodger" in the desired
> sense is difficult for me. Below is a cite in 1892, but George
> Thompson gave a cite in 1885 for "African dodger", so it appears to be
> an earlier term. Of course, most of these types of search-based
> results are provisional.

True. Youneverknow.

> An Amateur Takes a Professional's Place and is Killed by a Base Ball.

> BUFFALO, July 21. - One of the pastimes at Eagle Park is what is known
> as the "Artful Dodger." An "Artful Dodger" is usually a negro who
> pokes his head through a hole in a canvas suspended between two posts
> and allows the pleasure seeking sightseer to throw base balls at his
> head at three throws for a nickel. And that is where the artful dodger
> part comes in, for it is due to the dodger's activity which keeps him
> from harm. A professional dodger is hardly ever hit. Sim Jacobs, a
> young white man, took the professional's place for awhile yesterday,
> and, not being a professional, was hit and to-day he is dead. ...

What a pleasant surprise! :-)

In the Old South, Rubbing a negro'e, like kissing a rabbit's left
hindfoot, was considered to be lucky. Strange, since, since rubbing
his own head has never done much for any negro down on his luck. And
WRT, to the rabbit's foot, this belief was mocked by the New Yorker in
a cartoon of a rabbit stopping in mid-flight to kiss its own left
hindfoot, as the dogs began to catch up. OTOH, it was also held that,
as long as you hit a negro in his head, he couldn't be harmed. I
wonder how much the negro's innate ability to dodge artfully
contributed to that belief.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

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