More on _pier 6 brawl_

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Jun 6 14:04:46 UTC 2012

Father also would call a pleasing prize-fight "a real pier-sixer".  (This
was the early 50s, when there was a fight card on television 3 nights a

It is well known that the waterfront was thronged by tough and violent men,
made tougher and probably more violent by the exploitation and oppression
they suffered.  (The "shape-up" system, for instance.  See "On the
Waterfront" & "A View from the Bridge".)
I think Father associated "Pier 6 brawl" with the Pier 6 in Brooklyn, but I
dare say it was not much different from the other piers, or the waterfronts
of Boston, New Orleans, Memphis, Liverpool, &c.

I don't know many specific stories about his life on the waterfront.  One
is, that the stevedores would push 4 very large crates together, their
corners touching, creating a small amphitheater, then catch one of the
waterfront cats and a few rats, drop them into the space between the
crates, and sit up on top and watch the cat go to work.
Maybe that was the original Pier 6 brawl.


On Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 9:21 AM, David Barnhart <dbarnhart at>wrote:

> From one reference to _pier 6 brawl_ in a Sports Illustrated article posted
> in my e-mail box, I have found with the help of many of you quite a mixture
> of related items.
> pier six brawl
>  or Pier 6 (or Six) brawl
>  or pier-six brawl
>  or Pier Six brawl
>               Pier 6 brawler
>                 or Pier 6 Brawler
>                 or pier-six brawler
>               pier 6 brawling
>                 or pier-6 brawling
>                 or Pier 6 brawling
> pier-sixer
>  or Pier-Sixer
>  or Pier Sixer
>  or PierSixer
>  or pier sixer
>  or pier 6'er
>  or Pier 6er
> And, there is a group of related terms with letter or number substitutions,
> including pier 4 brawl, pier five brawl, pier 7 brawl, pier 8 brawl, pier
> nine brawl, pier 10 brawl and pier 12 brawl.  Pier N brawl and pier t brawl
> appear, too.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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

The American Dialect Society -

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