tailgaiting, truck, trucker and a few other assorted pointers

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Dec 18 05:58:14 UTC 2010

First, a summary:

tail-gate B. adj. 2. -- does not cover the contemporary US definition of
[usually] pre-game picnic/drinking that may or may not be conducted out
of the back of a car or truck, often in a parking lot (also now includes
organized pre-game parties for fans). I suspect that this interpretation
has largely, if not entirely, replaced the definition that's in the OED,
at least, in the US.

tail-gate A. n. 1. (wagon) 28 Nov. 1868 --> 30 June 1868
         (train) 1909 --> 1888

tail-gate v. 1. -- 1962 example shows different meaning than one listed
[one that is still in use]

trucker n.2 2. 1961 --> 1955 --> 1922

truck n.2 3.g 1916 --> 1911 [accidental discovery--search likely to
reveal earlier dates]

dump-truck 1930 --> 1911

dump-wagon [interdate] 1869-1969 --> 1911

hand-truck [no OED entry]--> 1922 [accidental discovery--search likely
to reveal earlier dates]

dock monkey [no OED entry] [HDAS 1939]--> 1938

swamper (dock loader) [no OED entry] 1955

dock-walloper [postdating] 1879 --> 1951

trucker n.2 1. [postdate] 1893 --> 1922

[not sure anyone cares] 57 varieties: original Heinz ad from 1899,
figurative usage 1912

It's funny how a little thing can snowball. I initially wanted to look
up "tail-gating" in the "sport-theme party" sense. Everything else just
got strung along...

Am I the only one to cringe at the OED definition of "tailgate B. adj. 2."?

>   2. Applied to refreshment stops, etc., made during the course of a
> journey or outing and arranged at the open tail-gate of a parked car.
> 1970    Globe & Mail (Toronto) 26 Sept. 29/3 (advt.)    The game has
> become secondary to a potlatch ceremony called tailgate picknicking...
> This..requires that the host participants outdo their neighbours in
> the quality and variety of food and drink and the elegance of serving
> accessories.
> 1980    L. Birnbach et al. Official Preppy Handbk. 102/2   Tailgate
> picnics, whiskey sours in the stadium, and the general complexity of
> the sport guarantee that nobody knows what is going on.

There is nothing relevant under "tailgate v." and "tailgating" at all.

Although the general--and, likely, the original--meaning seems to be OK,
the second cite should make it obvious that by 1980 the meaning had
already been narrowed. Personally, I have never heard of "tailgating" as
"a refreshment stop on a journey or outing"--"tailgating" is the whole
point of the outing, except, most of the time, for that other event that

Looking over "tail-gate A. n. 2.", the earliest cite is Oregon State
Jrnl. 28 Nov. 1868. Here's a slight antedating from EAN:

Headline: Our Austin Letters; Austin, June 27, 1868; Article Type:
Paper: Flake's Bulletin; Date: 06-30-1868; Volume: IV; Issue: 8; Page:
5; Column 2; Location: Galveston, Texas
> When the wagoner, whose tail gate was lost at the bottom of the hill,
> had spilled his load from that to the top, refused to swear because he
> could not do the subject justice, he was a type of "your
> correspondent" at Austin.

The earliest citation for "tail gate" of a train is listed as 1909

Headline: Bill Nye as a Politician; Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Dallas Morning News; Date: 05-27-1888; Page: 11; Column: 1;
Location: Dallas, Texas
> I think my voice is better also than it was either four, eight, twelve
> or sixteen years ago, and it does not tire me so much to think of
> things to say from the tail-gate of a train as it did when I first
> began to refrain from presenting my name to conventions.

Furthermore, the very first example under "tail-gate v. 1." appears to
mean something other than what is listed in the definition:

> 1962    F. Lockridge & R. Lockridge Murder has its Points xiv. 160
> The police car they followed knew its way, and Weigand tail-gated.

The definition defines it as "to drive too close", but there is no
indication here that "too close" is meant or even marginally implied.
Here, "tailgated" simply means that Weigand /followed/ the police car to
the destination. This is not an uncommon usage--although the pejorative
one is more frequent (as is clearly implied by the next example).

The early entry under "tail-gating" is amusing:

> 1955 Amer. Speech 30 93   Twenty-two..[lorry] drivers agreed that
> tailgating means riding too closely behind the vehicle ahead.

This is, of course, from the American Speech article on /truck driver/
jargon (expanded upon in 1969, but I will post on that separately). Note
/American/--the word "lorry" appears nowhere in the article, for obvious
reasons. The overeagerness of the editors in not surprising--after all,
a trucker is defined as "2. A (long-distance) lorry-driver. orig. and
chiefly U.S.". But to take a piece of US jargon and turn the sentence
into something British is odd in my book, even for a quintessentially
English dictionary.

Furthermore, the aforementioned 1955 article uses the word "trucker" in
the same sense, yet the earliest OED cite is from 1961--if you already
got the source, why not cite it? I am sure "trucker" can be traced into
the 1920s, but I am not going to do it right now. [PS: see below]

> What to call the men who load and unload freight has caused one of the
> liveliest contests about words in the truckers' language. /Swamper/
> and /dock-walloper/ were suggested by the American Truckers
> Associations, Inc., but reporting drivers frequently disagreed. Of the
> four drivers reporting from Kansas City, two did not know what swamper
> meant, the third driver thought it meant a helper who rides in trucks
> used on construction jobs, and only the fourth driver thought a
> swamper was a worker who loads and unloads vehicles. Only one of the
> four used dockwalloper when speaking of such work- ers. /Digger/ was
> reported to be in current use in Miami.

I included the whole bit because I also checked the three highlighted
terms. "Swamper" is in the OED and OED agrees with ... the lone driver
that it's a helper who rides along. "Dock-walloper" is also listed, but
the last cite is from 1879 (and there are only two citations). "Digger"
is not in the OED in this sense at all, nor, likely, should it be (but
it should be in NA slang dictionariers). Digger is not in HDAS1.
Dock-walloper is, but it's more general ("esp. a longshorman"). But Jon
has a much better term that is traced back to 1939 (and forward into the
1970s): dock monkey. Dock monkey is not in OED.

Commercial Car Journal (1938--date verified, text--not) agrees with HDAS
on "dock monkey" (http://goo.gl/GLUNf). In fact, it would be nice to
find that particular issue as it appears to contain a glossary, of sorts.

I did change my mind and looked up "trucker". I'll skip all the exciting
observations and just pick up the relevant citations:

Engineering and contracting, Volume 58. November 15, 1922
Highway and Railway Transportation of goods. By W. H. Lyford. p. 467/3
[Issue page 111.]
> Freight is collected and delivered, not by the railway company, but by
> the trader or by the owner of trucks or teams, whom we call "the trucker."

Presumably, "teams" refers to teams of horses.

p. 468/1
> In this country four different agencies are competing with each other
> for the transportation of the same goods: Parcel post, the express
> company, the railway and the *trucker*. While the parcel post and
> express are transported over railways, the government and the express
> company compete with each other and with the railway for the carriage
> of packages weighing 70 lb. or less, and the *trucker* competes with
> the three other agencies.
> Competition for the local carriage of goods within city and suburban
> areas ought to be welcomed by the railways, as they perform this
> service at an actual loss, while the *trucker* can perform it at a
> profit. On the other hand, competition with the railway for the
> carriage of goods through rural districts, along main lines of
> railway, is harmful to the railway and unprofitable to the *trucker*.

p. 468/3
> The operation of branch lines on which the traffic is too light to
> sustain railway transportation and which could be served better and at
> far less expense by the motor truck.
> *Advantages of Co-operation Between Railway and Motor-Truck.---*The
> most important field of co-operation between the railway and the truck
> is offered by collection and delivery of local freight in large
> cities. Comparatively few trucks are used in this service, first,
> because there is no cooperation between the *truckers* themselves,
> and, second, because there is no co-operation between the *trucker*
> and the railway. As the collection and delivery of local freight in
> large cities is now conducted the delays to trucks in reaching the
> station door and in loading and unloading the truck make unprofitable
> the use of the truck in station service, so that by far the greater
> part of this service is performed by horse-drawn vehicles. Truck
> transportation is only profitable when the truck can be kept moving
> the greater part of the time.

  In this case, though, the "trucker" refers not precisely to a driver
of a truck, but to an operator of a trucking service (which, of course,
may include an owner-driver). As such, the meaning falls somewhere
between "trucker n.2 1." and "trucker n.2 2."

For contrast, a slightly earlier article in the same publication uses a
pure 1. definition of "trucker".

Engineering and contracting, Volume 58. October 18, 1922
New Freight Shipping System By "Container Cars" of New York Central
Lines. Summary of an address by F. S. Gallagher. p. 378/2 [issue page 114]
> The eighth handling is by the unloader lifting the freight to the
> floor of the car for the hand trucker; the ninth, the hand trucker
> with the package stopping while record is being made of the shipment
> going out of the car. The trucker then carries this freight to a
> designated place in the freight house and it is left there. The
> consignee is notified that the goods for him have arrived, sends his
> wagon to the freight house and notifies the delivery clerk. The
> delivery clerk points out the shipment to the hand trucker, who takes
> it to the wagon for loading, which is the tenth handling. When the
> package is delivered by the hand trucker to the wagon platform, it is
> dumped at the tailgate of the wagon, making the eleventh handling, and
> must be handled the twelfth time to place it into the wagon.

"Hand truck" and "hand trucker" are not in OED and "trucker n.2 1." only
has citations through 1893. Skimming over a few other GB hits for
"trucker", it looks like "trucker" was frequently shorthand for "hand
trucker", going back to the beginning of the century. So there is
continuous usage between the 1893 citation and this one. What I have not
found prior to 1922 is a reference to a "trucker" as an
owner/operator/driver of motorized truck service. As the Lyford article
implies, the field of motorized trucking service was still developing
when the article was written and long-haul trucking was still a long way
off. There seems to be a nice gradual transition in the meaning of terms
"truck" and "trucker" through the first half of the 20th century,
although the old meaning had been preserved in a few narrow contexts
(including the combination "hand truck"--but not "hand trucker"--and in
the context of mining).

truck n.2 3.g
OED has 1916

Headline: Portland-Built Truck is Winner. Webfoot Auto Dump Wagon of C.
J. Cook &Co. Stands Big Test;
Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Oregonian, published as The Sunday Oregonian; Date: 01-15-1911;
Volume: XXX; Issue: 3; Page: 9; Column: 1; Location: Portland, Oregon
> Invented and perfected by an Oregon man, built in Portland, with the
> exception of a few intricate parts, acting perfectly on its first
> trial with a load, something almost unheard of in automobile
> manufacturing, is the record of a five-ton "Webfoot" truck just
> finished by C. J. Cook & Company's engineers. The first capacity of
> the truck was made Thursday afternoon. The truck, despite the
> slippery, icy streets, carried two and one-half yards of sand from the
> foot of Ankeny street to Twelfth and Couch without trouble.
> This is the first automobile truck ever built in Oregon, and to have
> it show perfection was almost beyond the hope of the engineers who
> superintended the construction. The truck is unlike any of its kind
> ever built.

A bit lower, it becomes even more clear that the usage is not new, so
there must have been earlier appearances of the "automobile truck":

> No particular type of automobile truck was imitated, it being the wish
> of Mr. Cook and his partners to produce a novel car.

The same article also nicely interdates "dump wagon" (OED 1869 and 1969):

> The contracting firm has been using automobile dump wagons, the
> dumping apparatus operating by cable and windlass, a slow and
> unreliable method at best. The new dumping apparatus is operated by
> machinery, direct transmission being had with the engine by means of a
> driving shaft operated by a lever back of the driver's seat.

The description stops just short of calling the contraption a "dump
truck" (OED 1930). I found the piece by looking for "tail-gate":

> The tail gate operates automatically when dumping, and locks through a
> lever placed handy at the driver's back.

So it really is the first dump truck!

Sure enough, an ad in another Oregonian issue ends up mentioning the
very word (OED 1930).

Headline: [No Headline]; Article Type: Advertisements
Paper: Oregonian, published as Morning Oregonian; Date: 08-13-1911;
Volume: XXX; Issue: 33; Section: 2; Page: [5]; Column: 2;  Location:
Portland, Oregon
> Barger's Auctions
> Monday, 10 A. M.
> By order of assignee of estate of Doyle Truck Co., a corporation, and
> for the benefit of the creditors, it has been ordered by the court to
> sell to the highest bidder on August 14, 1911, at 429-421 Belmont
> street, near Seventh, its entire assets, including designs, drawings,
> patent rights, trucks and truck materials, all tools, finished and
> unfinished, automobile dump-truck, office furniture, blacksmith
> outfit, tons of junk scrap iron and automobile materials.
> Come promptly at 10 A. M.
> S. H. Barger, Auctioneer

A photo of a similar Gramm truck can be found in the Philadelphia
Inquirer for the same year. This truck carried 14,000 pounds, had an
automatic dumping body and also an automatic tail-gate.

Headline: Truck of Unique Design; Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Philadelphia Inquirer, published as The Philadelphia Inquirer;
Date: 07-02-1911; Volume: 165; Issue: 2; Page: 6; Location:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia hosted a "pleasure car" and a "commercial and electric car"
show in succession in January 1912. The Inquirer headlined the latter as
the "Motor Truck Show".

Headline: Motor Truck Show to Open Tomorrow. Commercial Cars Will Share
Second Week of 1912 Automobile Exposition With Electric Vehicles.
Display Will Continue in Both Armories; Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Philadelphia Inquirer, published as The Philadelphia Inquirer;
Date: 01-21-1912; Volume: 166; Issue: 21; Page: [1]; Location:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The listing of exhibitors at the Third Regiment Armory includes a number
of companies with "Truck" in their names. More interestingly, I found
this gem:

> The delightful weather of yesterday more than compensated for the
> adverse conditions in the early part of the week by drawing out
> thousands of visitors to both armories for a final view of the
> magnificent specimens of automobiles in *"57 varieties"* exhibited at
> the show.

Same year, the Inquirer published another article on advantages of
trucks equipped with "dumping bodies" or "dump bodies", as they were
referred to in the article. In fact, the use of "dumping bodies" in the
title seems to have been meant as a pun.

Headline: Dumping Bodies as Labor Saver. Motor Trucks Fitted with
Mechanical Devices Reduce Cost in Loading; Article Type: News/Opinion
Paper: Philadelphia Inquirer, published as The Philadelphia Inquirer;
Date: 10-27-1912; Volume: 167; Issue: 119; Page: 15; Location:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Now, for 57 varieties: Heinz corporate site displays the following under

> What does the "57" stand for in Heinz's famous slogan, "57 Varieties?"
> While riding a train in New York City in 1896, Henry Heinz saw a sign
> advertising 21 styles of shoes, which he thought was clever. Although
> Heinz was manufacturing more than 60 products at the time, Henry
> thought 57 was a lucky number. So, he began using the slogan "57
> Varieties" in all his advertising. Today the company has more than
> 5,700 products around the globe, but still uses the magic number of "57."

Sure enough, the first ad with 57 varieties pops up in EAN in
1899--perhaps not very long after the original introduction. Someone
else will have to improve on this.

Headline: [No Headline]; Article Type: Advertisements
Paper: Times Picayune, published as The Daily Picayune.; Date:
02-19-1899; Page: 6; Column 4; Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
> A Cordial Invitation
> is hereby extended to all our friends and patrons to call and partake
> of free samples of
> Heinz 57 Varieties,
> ---Including---
> which will be served in our store the entire week, ending SATURDAY,
> FEB. 25.
> 3214 Magazine Street.


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