Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Thu Dec 2 23:10:37 UTC 2004

There's a full-page ad in this week's Sports Illustrated for BVD-brand
men's underwear. Does anyone else remember when "BVD's" was synonymous
with men's and boys' long underwear? "Union suit," "longjohns," and
"wooly-boolies" were slang terms for this article of clothing.

Old joke: My uncle was arrested in [your favorite ex-Confederate state].
                   Really? Why?
                  He was caught walking around in public in his union

Remember "Boolie-Woolie" (or however it was spelled) by Sam the Sham &
the Pharoahs? They were Texans and it's in Texas that the term
"woolie-boolies" was used. I've long wondered whether the title of the
song was an in-joke aimed at other Texans or just a coincidence.

A few readers may remember movies, comic strips, etc. that depicted
cowboys - and, for that matter, hicks in general, whether Northern or
Southern - as always wearing long underwear under their outer clothing.
FWIW, my grandfather in fact always wore only union suits as underwear,
regardless of the ambient temperature, exactly as shown in those movies
and comic strips. He even wore the stereotypically-hick high-top shoes

-Wilson Gray

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