Air Force Language (1962); Medical Slang (1994)

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Mon Jul 23 20:55:25 UTC 2001

In a message dated 7/22/01 3:29:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Bapopik at AOL.COM

> black shoe_--Having to do with the nonflying Navy.  (RHHDAS 1950)
>  _brown shoe_--Having to do with the Navy Air Force.  (RHHDAS 1952)

These two terms may have been literal rather than metaphorical, i.e. at one
time Naval aviators wore uniforms that included brown shoes, whereas
non-flying Naval personnel had black shoes as part of their uniform.  I do
know that the US Army at one time had a distinction between brown and black
shoes, and I can remember references to the "brown-shoe Army", but I do not
remember the details.  The man who first explained to me about shoe colors
was a West Point graduate, iirc class of 1956.

>  _brown bagger_--A married man. (RHHDAS 1947)

This one looks obvious.  The man's wife fixes him his lunch every morning,
and since in those days lunch pails were associated with construction workers
(who were not yet known as "hard hats"), the man would bring this lunch with
him in a brown paper bag.

>  _brownie clicker_--A photographer.  (Not in RHHDAS)

This term is obsolete.  It refers to the days when Kodak sold "Brownie" box

>  _Bucket Bitchers_--The men who worked on Allison engines.  (Not in RHHDAS)

Probably a World War II term.  During World War II most US warplanes used one
of three engines: the Pratt and Whitney Wasp, the Wright Cyclone (both of
which were air-cooled), and the General Motors Allison, which was
liquid-cooled.  A man who worked with Allisons worked with water and
antifreeze, which meant that metaphorically and sometimes physically he
carried buckets.  I suspect that "bitcher" was alliterative.

>  _buy it_--To crash; a short form of _buy the farm_. (RHHDAS 1954)

Hmmm.  So Heinlein did NOT invent "buy the farm" for his book _Starship

>  _charlie time_--The time on deck for an airplane in the air. (Not in

Since "Charlie" is phonetic code for the letter "C", I would suspect there
also existed "Able Time" and "Baker Time"

>  _cherry picker_--A moveable crane, usually at a landing field. (RHHDAS

I have a possible 1943 usage.  In his memoirs _Sink 'Em All_ (now out of
print, I do not have a biblio citation), Admiral Charles Lockwood describes
in the summer of 1943 testing a new design for the  exploder of a torpedo.
If I remember correctly, his words were "by dropping them from a
cherry-picker onto a steel plate".  Apparently cherry-pickers, under that
name, were common enough in Hawaii in the summer of 1943 that an admiral
thought nothing of borrowing one.

>  _dick tracy_--A radio helmet worn for short range communication between
> personnel on the flight deck.  (Not in RHHDAS)

The source of this one is obvious---those wrist radios in the Dick Tracy
comic strip.

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