[Ads-l] Kackalack (1923)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 20 16:53:18 UTC 2015


I sometimes search for early sightings of "Cackalacky" (and variants),
a slang moniker for Carolina (as in North Cackalacky).  The earliest
I've found dates to 1972, but I recently stumbled on a mysterious
"Kackalack," the meaning of which isn't entirely clear to me.  But
it's interesting.

The following passage appeared in a long column by "Colonel J.O.
Midnight," the pen name (one of several) of Charles Stewart
(1868?-1925), a well-known African-American journalist in the early
1900s [1].  I've supplemented the text below with some additional
information (in brackets) contained elsewhere in the article, just for
clarification.

-----------------------------------

The meeting [of the Rising Sons and Daughters of Protection] was
great, and I had a record breaking time.  Mr. Mitchell toted me around
in his Kackalack.  I had the pleasure of seeing many friends in that
city [Birmingham, Alabama] and then was for another part of the world
headed before the close of the week.  [From "J.O. Don't Think Much of
Some People in Arkansas; Bishop Wallace Treated Inhumanly," The Kansas
City [Kansas] Advocate, 8 June 1923; Pages 1, 3.  This excerpt appears
on p. 3.  Via genealogybank.com.]

-----------------------------------

Stewart, in his "J.O. Midnight" persona, wrote in a folksy way, so it
had occurred to me that "Kackalack" may be just a humorous way of
saying "Cadillac."  (Earlier in the article Mr. Mitchell had been
introduced as a professor, so it seems unlikely that this conveyance
was something, for example, horse-drawn.)

But I've just now noticed that earlier this year Michael Durbin posted
the following in reply to Evan Morris's Word Detective post on
"Cakalacky" [2].

-----------------------------------

January 31, 2015 at 8:37 am
Years back I read or heard somewhere it originated as a mildly teasing
reference to poorer Carolinians who mispronounced Cadillac as
Cackalack. But I can’t find the reference now.

-----------------------------------

Anyone familiar with a historical usage of "Kackalack," perhaps for a Cadillac?

And any thoughts on Mr. Durbin's comment?

-- Bonnie


[1] See http://tinyurl.com/kcsd3jf.  Mitch Kachun, a professor of
history at Western Michigan University who is researching Stewart,
agrees that "J.O. Midnight" was likely using "Kackalack" for
"Cadillac."

[2] http://www.word-detective.com/2010/09/cakalacky/.

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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