Gremlins; WAC talk (1944); Lookit; Melanie's etymology page

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Jun 13 02:02:56 UTC 1999


    The MHI card catalog turned up two articles on "Gremlins."
     "Greminlinology" is in THE AEROPLANE (U.K.), 4 December 1942, pages
     From Pg. 652, col. 1:  "Only since the expansion of the R.A.F. has the
source of the trouble been unearthed.  A Sgt. Pilot stumbled on it quite by
accident somewhere around 1925 (see RHHDAS for 1922 and 1923
speculations--ed.) in Mespot and called it 'Gremlin action.'  At first
confined to one aerodrome, it has now become one of the ruling factors of the
War in the Air."
     From Pg. 653, col. 1:  "The precise circumstances in which the name
'Gremlin' was invented have still to be determined.  One explanation is that
it was first applied to a goblin found doing mischievous things in a bottle
of Fremlin's beer."
     "The Gremlins" is in LIFE, 16 November 1942, pages 93-95.  "Gremlins are
aerial pixies," the article states.  Under a photo on Page 95 is: "Young
gremlins are called widgets."

WAC TALK (1944)

     This (found with the help of the MHI card catalog) is from COLLIER'S, 8
April 1944, pg. 61, col. 2:

Like other Army and Navy personnel, the members of the Women's Army Corps
have coined their own slanguage.  If you hear a Wac say, "I'm off on an
orchid hunt, kids--and no PFC.  My night maneuvers are gonna be with a
varsity crewman," you'll know what she means after you've studied this

_Barracks bags_...Ones under the eyes
_Costume jewelry_...Insignia
_Dry ammo (ammunition)...Cosmetics
_G. I. necklaces_...Identification tags
_G. I. Nylons_...Regulation cotton stockings
_Gruesome twosomes_...Shoes
_Hair warden_...Camp hairdresser
_Hip kits_...Girdles
_Hobby Lobby_...Colonel Hobby's headquarters
_Night maneuvers_...Dates
_Orchid hunt_...Furlough
_PFC_...Pray for a corporal
_Varsity crewman_...Naval officer
_Wac hack_...Cough
_Wac happy_...To feel good
_Zebras_...Officers with sleaves full of stripes


     I read the Safire column today.  Unfortunately, no one asked me.  I was
heading for Turkey at the time.
     "Lookit" comes from the funnies.  If I remember correctly, I can even
tell you which funny.
     Clare Briggs drew the cartoon "When a Feller Needs a Friend" from
1912-1929.  It was a popular feature of the New York Herald-Tribune (among
other newspapers).  Look at any year and I'm sure you'll find "lookit."


    Someone gave the web address of a site that debunked that "1500s"
etymologies posting.  It is Melanie's etymology page.
    I reviewed 'The Logical World of Etymology" web site here about two years
ago and said that it was being done by a complete twit.  I revisited it--the
site's name has changed, but she's still a twit.
    After all these years, she has yet to join either the American Dialect
Society or the American Name Society (or both).  Neither Society's web page
is linked to her pages.
    She gives a bibliography, but essential books are not there.  The _Random
House Historical Dictionary of American Slang_  is STILL not there!  Go to
any bookstore, Melanie!  They're big, thick books!  Buy yourself a copy!
    She's not too good with the web (Yahoo ain't that difficult!) and she
doesn't consult electronic databases (JSTOR, et al.).
    She doesn't know anyone in the field and will probably draw a blank if
you mention Peter Tamony, David Shulman, Fred Shapiro, Gerald Cohen, or me.
    She does no original etymological work herself.
    However, she does photograph well.


    Go to and play this game.
    I was told (at the Port Authority bus terminal) that Greyhound doesn't go
to Carlisle, PA, so I originally bought a round trip to Harrisburg, PA for
$58.  I asked at Harrisburg how to get to Carlisle, and the driver told me it
was the next stop on the same bus!  (Round trips between Carlisle and
Harrisburg go for $7.70 or $9.)
    Today, I wanted a round trip to Carlisle and I was again told Greyhound
doesn't go there!  When I said AU CONTRAIRE, I was told a round trip was $97!
 That's at least $30 too much!
    So I checked myself.  There's no NYC-Carlisle.
NY-Harrisburg is $58, and Harrisburg-Carlisle is $9 (both round trip).
That's $67.
   There is, however, a Carlisle-NYC round trip, and that is indeed $97--for
the exact same bus as the $9 and $58 trips!
    It'll probably take three years and twenty letters to get a refund on my
credit card.

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