Jay Walk (1911, 1916); Snake Oil (1911)

Sam Clements sclements at NEO.RR.COM
Wed Dec 3 04:38:55 UTC 1997

Ironic that I was just gonna ask you about the term "jaywalk."    It was
suggested to me that the term might have an origin in or was influenced by
the comic strips of Winsor McKay in his 1905 "Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend."
Evidently there is a rube/farmer crossing Broadway and caught by the
horse-carts(not cars).  While I haven't viewed any of the strips, the
suggestion was that the "jaywalkers" were acting like jays in their attempts
to cross the street.
----- Original Message -----
From: <Bapopik at AOL.COM>
Sent: Monday, December 02, 2002 10:26 AM
Subject: Jay Walk (1911, 1916); Snake Oil (1911)

>    Greetings from the Library of Congress.   This won't exactly get me on
Jay Leno or even pay my bus fare down here, but let's begin.  OED has 1917
for "jaywalk."  From WASHINGTON POST full text:
>    7 May 1911, WASHINGTON POST, pg. M2:
> _New York Faker's Paradise._
>    (Kansas City Star.)
> (...)
>    Right in line with these fakers is a show that has had a long run on
Broadway at Twenty-ninth street.  This is Prof. Blank's Snake Oil show.  The
professor has a full company--including the live rattlesnake, and
Rattlesnake Pete, the old Indian, who does the capturing for the oil.
>    Kansas City used to consider itself a town of jay walkers.  That is
another line to which New York deserves the discredit of being at the front
of the procession.  A typical Manhattan would be run over and trampled on
the sidewalk if he tried to walk on State street in Chicago as he walks on
Broadway, New York.  He has never heard of the prehistoric principle of
keeping to the right--he ambles all over the sidewalk.  A fac simile of his
trail would show that he had pursued a course as crooked as that of a
serpent with a bun (?) on.  There ought to be a traffic policeman stationed
on the sidewalk at every corner to keep the pedestrians straightened out.
>    5 March 1916, WASHINGTON POST, pg. A5:
>    Maj. Pullman will arrange another day of education of "walk-rite" by
the Boy Scouts.  The inital efforts of the boys in that direction were badly
handicapped by the weather the day they were out educating pedestrians
against the "jay-walk."
>    26 November 1916, WASHINGTON POST, pg. R8:
>    It is to be known as "walkrite."  THe Boy Scouts will be out in full
force on the four Saturdays of December--2, 9, 16 and 23.  The "jaywalkers"
are men and women who cross the streets at angles, between corners and
otherwise recklessly walk in the roadways or cross the streets, thus
increasing the number of accidents.  "Heads up" and "walk-rite" will be the
slogans of the Boy Scouts.
>    10 December 1916, WASHINGTON POST, pg. FD6:
>    The banners of the boys displayed all over the city "Walk Rite" and "Do
Not Jay Walk," attracted general attention, and as a result, a majority of
pedestrians now follow safety first rules in crossing streets.

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