learn something new every second try

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 17 00:18:09 UTC 2006

"Bring smoke on" was in use by black G.I.'s in Germany in 1961. I
first heard it over the Christmas holidays in 1960 from a friend,
William, in St. Louis who had been stationed at the same German
village, Baumholder, that I was in the process of being shipped out
to. Since it was already in use everywhere by the time that I got to
Germany only a couple of weeks later, I figured that it was a bit of
GI slang that William had picked up in Baumholder and brought home.

Perhaps I should have continued my reading of Vietnam memoirs. I've
never seen "bring smoke" in print. And I've never looked for it in
HDAS, since I know it only as an odd bit of GI jargon that was dead to
me :-) as soon as I had "taken off the suit."

I'd never heard "bring P" until someone else from St. Louis, Charles
Ray ("Ray Charles" reversed, making his name easy to remember over the
years) shipped in to Baumholder. Pretty much all that he talked about
was "bringing P." As time passed and more new people shipped in,
"bring P" continued to be a St. Louis thing in my mind. Even in West
Berlin, the only people that I ever heard use it were also black GI's
from St. Louis. "Get some P" and "P down heavy" were common St.
Louisisms when I was a teenager, so it had never occurred to me that,
whether spelled "P" or "pee," it was anything but P for  "piece (of
pussy)" or "pussy" and not "pee" for "piss." Even if that possibility
had occurred to me, I would have written it off as yet another good BE
expression stolen by The Man and fucked up by him. :-) But I do agree
that your (a) and (b)

You know, if it wasn't for us, Modern English would still be the
English of the King James Bible. ;-)

Oddly enough, being stationed in Vietnam was considered to be a far
better deal that being stationed in Germany, in my day. At least it
was supposed to be better if you were in the Security Agency and,
therefore, a spook. (Being referred to as a "spook" by white people
took some getting used to, since, theretofore, the only slang meaning
that I knew for "spook" was as a milder but just as annoying
replacement for "nigger.") It was said that members of the Agency in
Vietnam dressed in mufti and lived in 5-star hotels.


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

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