milk-walk (1872)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Sep 21 16:11:05 UTC 2007

At 11:20 AM 9/21/2007, you wrote:

>While perusing the Historical NYT for _gadget_, I came across the
>following quote from March 17, 1872, p 4, in an article titled "The
>Beggar's Banquet."
>There they are, all seated in their places, waiting for the master of the
>feast, and wiling away the time by exchanging cherry but generally slangy
>salutations.  "Sal, old gal, how goes it?"  "How's the milk-walk, Jerry?"
>(Milk-walk is the slang for begging district.)  "Music (benevolence of the
>public) in tune to-day, Cully?"  "What's the price of gold?"
>"Organ-grinding lively?"  "Earned house and lot to-day?" and a dozen
>inquiries of similar import were made and responded to in the same strain.
>The term milk-walk is unfamiliar to me.  I did not find it in the few
>slang dictionaries at hand.  Is anyone familiar with it or have further

In my poor-man's OED under "milk" (10): <<milk-walk, a milkman's
regular round for the sale of milk>>. Not usually slang AFAIK. There
are hundreds of examples at Google Books.

In the above passage I suppose the beggar's daily route is humorously
likened to that of a milk vendor. The interpretation as "begging
district" _may_ not be accurate.

[There is a (different) slang sense: "milk walk" = "female breasts".
In Cassell's, Partridge, F&H.]

-- Doug Wilson

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