Quip: Spent a week in Philadelphia one day

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 12 03:12:18 UTC 2011

This post is a follow-up to a post discussing a joke about
Philadelphia that is often attributed to W. C. Fields. Humorous
remarks about Philadelphia are often reassigned to Fields. There is
probably an instance of the quip in a 1912 issue of the Fra, but I
still have not verified it. Here are two instances before 1912, and a
few additional selected citations.

Cite: 1908 April 2, Life, [Cartoon showing two men in bowler hats
conversing with a caption mentioning Philadelphia], Page 364, Life
Publishing Company, New York. (Google Books full view; also ProQuest
[Begin excerpt]
" WHEN ?"
[End excerpt]

Cite: 1909 June 19, The Outlook, The Spectator, Page 400, Column 2,
The Outlook Company, New York. (Google Books full view)
[Begin excerpt]
It was a New Yorker who once said that he "had spent a week in
Philadelphia last Wednesday."
[End excerpt]

Cite: 1946 November 15, The Art Digest [later renamed Arts Magazine],
Prints in Philadelphia, Quote Page 19, Art Digest, Inc., New York.
(Verified on paper)
[Begin excerpt]
Almost everyone has heard of the churlish wag who insisted that he
spent a fortnight in Philadelphia one Sunday and who described the
city as "a cemetery with lights."
[End excerpt]

Cite: 1957, Our Philadelphia: A Candid and Colorful Portrait of a
Great City by Frank Brookhouser, Section Prologue, Page 1, Doubleday &
Company, Garden City, New York. (Verified on paper)
[Begin excerpt]
Another remark you have heard about Philadelphia is:
"I came to Philly on Sunday but it was closed."
Still another is:
"Oh sure, I spent a week in Philly one Sunday."
[End excerpt]

Cite: 1971 April-June, The Journal of American Folklore, A Study of
Ethnic Slurs: The Jew and the Polack in the United States by Alan
Dundes, Start Page 186, Quote Page 189-190, Volume 84, Number 332,
Published by: American Folklore Society. (JSTOR)
[Begin excerpt]
There are many other anti-Philadelphia slurs although the comments on
its being a "dead" town with little to do or its lack of late night
life are no doubt applied to other cities, for example: "I spent a
week in Philadelphia one day" or "I was in Philadelphia once, but it
was closed."
[End excerpt]

Cite: 1972 January 31, The Washington Post, Times Herald,
"Personalities: What? Ginger Ale?", Page B2, Washington, D.C.
[Begin excerpt]
A group of Philadelphia businessmen are throwing a 92d birthday party
for the late comedian at a local "Y," which has a no-liquor rule.
They'll show old Fields films, give guests a chance to kick a stuffed
dog and insult a live child—all in an effort to keep alive
Philadelphia's heritage. But ginger ale? It makes it easy to
understand what Fields meant when he said that in one night he spent a
week in Philadelphia.
[End excerpt]

Would love to have an example of this joke before April 2, 1908, or an
instance attributed to W. C. Fields before January 31, 1972, or some
other novel citation.

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list