Texas Hamburger Origins; Slowdeatha (Odessa); Big Apple 80th

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Fri Dec 1 17:00:53 UTC 2006

I don't know if Lighter's next volume of the HDAS will have "Slowdeatha. He
doesn't have "The Big OD."
It looks like I can't start my Texas Food Museum soon enough.
The "hamburger" didn't begin in Texas, and "Hamburg Steak" was served at
Delmonico's in New York City over 70 years before...heck, they can legislate
anything these days.
Friday, December 01, 2006
How about some of these goofy bills that have been filed for the upcoming
80th session of the Texas Legislature, known by some as the Running of the
A resolution from State Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, asks that the
Legislature "formally designate" the small town of Athens, in East Texas, "as  the
Original Home of the Hamburger."
"Well, we have every reason to believe that's where the hamburger
originated," said Brown, speaking of Athens. Athen's claim seems pretty sketchy  to me.
Legend has it that Fletcher Davis, aka "Old Dave," opened a lunch counter  in
the Athens courthouse square in the late 1800s. Later he got mentioned,
though apparently not by name, in the New York Tribune for introducing a new
sandwich called a hamburger at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis.
Now wait just a doggone minute. I think Dirty Martin's, the cheeseburger
joint on Guadalupe Street, has grease older than that.
Speaking of junk food, Brown has been a real hot dog when it comes to state
designations. She has made Commerce the Bois d'Arc Capital of Texas, and West
Tawakoni the Catfish Capital of Texas. I'll bet this chaps their butts over
in  East Tawakoni.
"I believe those are all I've done since I've been in the state Legislature,"
 Brown said. Well, blooie for you, lady.
John Kelso's column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at
445-3606 or jkelso at statesman.com.
Today is the 80th anniversary of John J. Fitz Gerald's Dec. 1, 1926 Morning
Telegraph column that said this:
So many people have asked the writer about the derivation of his phrase,
"the big apple," that he is forced to make another explanation. New Orleans has
called it to his mind again.

A number of years back, when racing a few  horses at the Fair Grounds with
Jake Byer, he was watching a couple of stable  hands cool out a pair of "hots"
in a circle outside the stable.

A boy  from an adjoining barn called over. "Where you shipping after the

To this one of the lads replied, "Why we ain't no bull-ring  stable, we's
goin' to 'the big apple.'"

The reply was bright and  snappy.

"Boy, I don't know what you're goin' to that apple with those  hides for. All
you'll get is the rind."
I wrote a letter to the editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune about it.
Racing has just returned to the Fair Grounds racetrack. This is an important
part of the history of both the Big Easy and the Big Apple.
It appears that the Picayune hasn't published it. Certainly, no one has
called me to even ASK about it. I also told the Picayune the recent  development
about Popeye's buying and destroying Harlem's Big Apple night  club last month.
That has made no newspaper anywhere--not even the Amsterdam  News, and I
wrote to them, too.
Isn't there some space in new media to cover cultural history, maybe not
page one like Pamela Anderson's divorce, but doesn't anyone care about anything?
Do I have write futile letters to newspapers for a hundred damn years,  as
some kind of cosmic punishment?

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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