flips and gasmeters

Baker, John JBaker at STRADLEY.COM
Thu Mar 8 17:57:44 UTC 2001

        We have to be careful not to impose our own inflated ideas of money
on Slim and Slam.  My parents, who were whites in rural Kentucky, have told
me many times how in the 1930s a man would work 12 hours of hard labor for a
dollar ("and be glad to get it, too," they would always add).  I doubt if
Slim and Slam's target audience was any more affluent.

John Baker

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Douglas G. Wilson [SMTP:douglas at NB.NET]
> Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 12:45 PM
> Subject:      Re: flips and gasmeters
> >"Brother, can you spare a dime?"
> In the "Slim and Slam" song, the offer is "I'll lay a deuce of flips on
> you, is that a killer?" = "I'll give you two flips, wouldn't that be
> fine?"
> as I understand it. Maybe there's some irony or sarcasm here; the response
> is "Flips?!" ... but I have trouble picturing a total sum of a dime or
> less
> being presented in this way.
> In the "brother" quotation (Bing Crosby song, I think), I believe the
> context is one of panhandling ca. 1932, with the implication that a dime
> was a small sum which one might give to a stranger on the street; probably
> it seemed a little smaller yet by 1940.
> So according to my reasoning "flip" = "penny" or "nickel" is not apt;
> "flip" = "dime" seems very dubious -- a borderline case. "Flip" =
> "quarter"
> sounds better, but "flip" = "coin" (ambiguous but perhaps referring to a
> quarter in this example) sounds better still ... to me.
> Just unsupported speculation, still. Don't any of the local savants have
> the real 'word' on these oddities?
> -- Doug Wilson

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