"cellar door"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 20 04:21:15 UTC 2010

In my own childhood, I often slid down cellar doors. But this is the
first that I've heard of a song that made reference to it.

OT, but perhaps of dialect-split interest, During The War, the
home-heating fuel of choice in Saint Louis was coal, whose horrible
stench made winter all the worse for a native of Texas. IAC, whites
called garages "garages." Blacks called them "coal sheds." I never
came across a single instance of coal being stored anywhere other than
in the coal-bin in the basement of the house, as a consequence of
which, no doubt, basements were sometimes referred to as "coal
cellars" by random members of the black community. In the Army, which
was still using coal well into the 60's, coal was stored in the open
outside each barracks.


On Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 10:41 PM, Grant Barrett
<gbarrett at worldnewyork.org> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Grant Barrett <gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG>
> Subject:      Re: "cellar door"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> I wonder how many people nowadays  have any notion of what the words
>> "sliding down our cellar door" (in "I Don't Want to Play in Your
>> Yard") refer to.
> Judging by the email from Times readers, everyone. Lots of people
> wrote to me to tell me about the song (which my own Nana sang to her
> grandkids). The letters usually start with something condescending
> like "perhaps you're too young" or overblown like "I am shocked you
> didn't mention" or loaded with buckets of false gotcha "I have the
> answer!"
> Geoff Nunberg's Beerbohm quote is one I found, too, and there are many
> works targeted at children in the 1800s that talk about the beauty of
> certain words, especially "mother," which are beautiful because of
> their meaning rather than because of any other characteristic of the
> word.
> Grant Barrett
> grantbarrett at gmail.com
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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–Mark Twain

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