George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Aug 27 01:44:17 UTC 2014


This message got sent very prematurely.  I intended to point out that the
musical instrument did require a turning motion in playing it, and that
"hurdy-gurdy house" at least referred to a place; and that the recreation
grounds at Hoboken did offer a roundabout.  But on the whole, the passage
seems to indicate a peculiar confusion on the part of the writer.  The
roundabout *wasn't* otherwise known as a hurdy-gurdy.

The second item from the notes on Hoboken's roundabout (from 1834) shows
the unfortunate fact that not everyone heeds good advice, such as that
offered by the Daily Advertiser in 1831.


On Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 9:31 PM, George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu>

>             Hoboken. -- The houses of refreshment in Hoboken were jammed
> at intervals with transient visitors, . . . and indeed we have never
> witnessed a more lively scene than that which presented itself along the
> various walks and pathways to the Sybil's Cave, and the large saloon still
> further on, at which extremity was placed, in the middle of an open space,
> a "roundabout," or properly termed a "Hurdy-Gurdy". . . .  At the further
> end of the saloon stood a "locomotive theatre," which furnished lots of fun
> for the folks who thronged that vicinity.  Entombed within its walls were
> wonders never before offered to the community.
>            NY Herald, July 6, 1845, p. 1, cols. 1-5   [from a summary of
> the celebrations on the 4th]
> The definitions of "hurdy-gurdy" in the OED start with *1 a.* A musical
> instrument of rustic origin resembling the lute or guitar, and having
> strings (two or more of which are tuned so as to produce a drone), which
> are sounded by the revolution of a rosined wheel turned by the left hand,
> the notes of the melody being obtained by the action of keys which ‘stop’
> the strings and are played by the right hand; thus combining the
> characteristics of instruments of the bowed and the clavier kinds.
>  and include
> hurdy-gurdy house   n. *N. Amer. Hist.* a disreputable type of cheap
> dance-hall.
> 1866   *Beadle's Monthly* Oct. 280/1   Hurdy-gurdy houses, with
> dancing~girls, music, and long bars.
> 1874   T. B. Aldrich *Prudence Palfrey* vii. 115   At sundown the
> dance-house would open,—the Hurdy-Gurdy House, as it was called.
> *roundabout  4.* orig. and chiefly *Brit.*
>  *a.* A revolving machine or apparatus on which people (esp. children)
> may ride for amusement, *spec.* one in a fairground or playground; =
> merry-go-round n. 1 <http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/116869#eid37355372>.
> 1763   *Brit. Mag.* *4* 50   There was a round-about for children to ride
> in, and all sorts of toys sold as at other fairs.
> 1795   C. Este *Journey through Flanders* 53   There is a round-about as
> in the apparatus for second childhood at Chantilli.
> 1813   *Sporting Mag.* *42* 20   There were the usual swings,
> ups-and-downs and roundabouts.
> 1874   *35th Rep. Prisons in Scotl.* 220   A recreation ground is
> prepared for the warders' children, and fitted with swings, see-saws, and
> roundabouts.
>             Mr. Van Buskirk, keeper of the Hotel, at Hoboken, has
> constructed a double circular railway under the shade on his grounds
> adjoining, for exercise, and the amusement of visiters to that pleasant
> spot.  Two light pleasure cars are provided, running on iron wheels, 3
> feet in diameter, with stuffed cushions, and neatly finished, each capable
> of accommodating two persons.  The motion is produced by the riders, who
> turn a hand-wheel by a windlass, and the motion is rapid and pleasant.  The
> circuit, which is 687 feet, is frequently made in 4 minutes.
>             Caution is necessary in not standing too near.
>             N-Y D Advertiser, July 29, 1831, p. 2, col. 3
>             Melancholy Accident. -- We regret to learn that a young man
> and a child were yesterday seriously injured by being run over by one of
> the cars on the circular railway upon the lawn at Hoboken.
>             N-Y Spectator, September 4, 1834, p. 1, col. 4
>             The circular swing and the flying horses were put in motion;
> the "Schiller band" raised their sturdy chorus; and the Gymnasts exhibited
> their agility in all manly feats.
>             N-Y D Tribune, May 21, 1850, p. 1, col. 3
> --
> George A. Thompson
> The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998..

George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list