"basket weaving" revisited

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu May 24 15:19:13 UTC 2007

On 5/24/07, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> Antedating Sam's 1956 cite for "underwater basket weaving" is this
> apparently legitimate result from Google Book Search:
> -----
> 1954 Robin W. Winks _These New Zealanders_ 116 It is also quite true
> that some American universities offer courses in 'Underwater Basket
> Weaving,' 'How to Putter About Efficiently', and 'Fly-casting'.
> http://books.google.com/books?id=8cYhAAAAMAAJ
> -----

Earlier cites for plain "basket weaving":

1942 _Chicago Daily Tribune_ 14 Feb. 19/7 The modern barbarians, he
said, are "the educational pragmatists who want us to teach such
'practical' courses as folk dancing, basket weaving, and the
intellect-straining problems of traffic violations."

1947 _Chicago Daily Tribune_ 31 Aug. (Grafic Magazine) 7/1 When the
time comes to make out your schedule of classes for the year you: (a)
Choose all the easy subjects, courses in basket weaving and pole
vaulting -- just anything that doesn't involve homework or brain
[Also: 1947 _Syracuse Post-Standard_ 21 Sep. 8/1]

1948 _Hartford Courant_ 12 Sep. E2/3 You might get a big bang out of a
course in ballroom dancing or basket weaving, but that's not going to
be much help to a fellow who wants to be a lawyer or to a gal looking
forward to a career as a stenographer.

1948 _Tri-City Herald_ (Pasco. Wash.) 25 Oct. 9 ("Popeye" comic strip)
Lummox has "D" in basket weaving and "D" in advanced pottery and "D"
in music appreciation!!

1951 _Pioneer Record_ (Ida Grove, Iowa) 15 Nov. 2/1 Schools are adding
courses such as modern dancing, basket weaving, theory of football,
history of retail business and in some instances, fly casting.

--Ben Zimmer

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

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