[Ads-l] "Black Friday" = having to work the day after a Thursday holiday (1957)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 22 11:15:32 EDT 2016


Here's something that might help explain the development of "Black
Friday" with respect to the day after Thanksgiving.

It appears that -- at least in Rochester, New York in 1957 -- "Black
Friday" may have been used to denote a workday following a Thursday
holiday (any Thursday holiday).

In that year Memorial Day fell on Thursday, 30 May.  The following
appeared two days later.

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

*Black Friday* (italicized)

We are most of the way through another one of those scrambled weekends
which occur when Thursday is a holiday; when some people have to go to
work Friday and some don't; and when everybody stews about what an
awful stew it all is.

"Black Friday" is the name being given to days like yesterday.

At least there is some white hope for the end of Black Fridays.

Sen. Charles E. Potter (R-Mich) is author of a bill which would make
Memorial Day the last Monday of May -- always -- and would also set
aside definite Mondays for the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, New Years
Day, and combined Washington and Lincoln's birthdays.

This would result in five guaranteed 3-day weekends.

It makes sense to us as an antidote to the pressures of mechanized living.

[From The Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, 1 June 1957, p.
10, column 2, via newspapers.com.]

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

If the above reflects a widespread (well, upstate New York) usage in
1957, I think it's worth considering that "Black Friday" as we now
know it began as a workday after Thanksgiving Day with an evolution in
usage for that hectic, headache-inducing pre-Christmas shopping day.

An earlier linking of "Black Friday" to Thanksgiving (specifically)
appeared in 1951 and 1952.  Notably, there's nothing about
post-Thanksgiving shopping, just working, or lack thereof.

"'Friday-after-Thanksgiving-itis' is a disease second only to the
bubonic plague in its effects.  At least that's the feeling of those
who have to get production out, when the 'Black Friday' comes along.
The shop may be half empty, but every absentee was sick -- and can
prove it."

https://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2009-August/092018.html

I had thought that this early-'50s, Thanksgiving-related "Black
Friday" must have been used to (humorously) signal a disaster for
factory managers, but I now think -- given the 1957 usage -- it's
possible that the term "Black Friday" may have belonged to workers.
And not just factory workers.

If this is the case, I wonder whether the evolution of the term, as
reported in newspapers and magazines in the '50s and into the
mid-'60s, goes something like this:

"Black Friday" = any workday after a holiday Thursday.  (Note, of
course, that the most common Thursday-holiday is Thanksgiving Day.)

"Black Friday" used (in the same way) by police = that workday (for
police, specifically) after Thanksgiving Day.

"Black Friday" used by police, reporters, merchants = that chaotic
shopping day after Thanksgiving Day (also, a chaotic workday for
police).

I believe that some of the earliest uses of "Black Friday" with
reference to the day after Thanksgiving (see [1] through [4], below)
can be read as suggesting this progression.

Can anyone else find other instances from the same period in which a
workday after a Thursday holiday is designated as "Black Friday"?

-- Bonnie


[1] (Barry Popik's find) December, 1961:
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2014-November/135115.html

[2] December, 1961:
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2011-May/109292.html
(and see [4], below)

[3] January, 1966:
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2008-April/081311.html

[4] November, 1994 (a recollection of the late '50s/early '60s):
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2011-August/111695.html

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