"crash blossoms" redux

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Feb 1 00:15:33 UTC 2010

On Sun, Jan 31, 2010 at 1:23 PM, Sam Clements <SClements at neo.rr.com> wrote:
> Being a bit older than Ben, I remember that line in his very good article in
> the NYTimes today--the one about the telegram from an editor.  But I
> remember reading it before the Time piece in 1962 using Cary Grant as the
> subject.
> The old joke went "How old Gar Wood?"  and the answer was "Old Gar Wood
> fine, how you?"
> It can be found as early as 1957 using Newspaperarchive.
> 14 December 1957, Anniston(AL) Star, 2/2

Thanks, Sam! My hedging of the Cary Grant story as "possibly
apocryphal" clearly wasn't hedgy enough. I see the anecdote also
appears in Jack Paar's 1961 book _My Saber is Bent_, in a form that
undercuts my argument that the joke depends on copula deletion:

When Tom [Ferris] was in charge of publicizing the city of Miami
Beach, he got a wire from a man in New York. It read: "Please wire how
old Gar Wood is." Ferris wired back: "Old Gar Wood is fine. How you?"

--Ben Zimmer

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

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