[Ads-l] antedating snake eyes (UNCLASSIFIED)

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 6 05:54:54 UTC 2016

Last year I did a piece on the history of, "Baby needs a new pair of shoes" (familiar form dates to at least 1900; earlier, non-gambling iterations to at least 1855).  In the article, I cited a WWI memoir (published in 1930) that suggests that "snake eyes" was current during American involvement in that war. 

"The boys have been teaching me to roll
dice.  Robert says when I learn a little
more the other players had better look out for the gold fillings in their
teeth.  I already know “snake eyes,”
“little Joe,” “box cars,” “fever,” “talk to mama,” “big six,” “baby needs a new pair of shoes,” and a
lot of the good terms."

Anonymous, One Woman’s War, New York, The Macaulay Company, 1930, page 119.
I just found "snake eyes" in the University of Missouri student annual, The Savitar, volume 21, 1915, on HathiTrust. In the report of the Law Department:

"We intend to collect for our strained eyes and midnight oil in the proportion of "box cars" to "snake eyes"."

> Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2016 18:34:03 +0000
> From: william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL
> Subject: antedating snake eyes (UNCLASSIFIED)
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Mullins, Bill CIV (US)" <william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL>
> Subject:      antedating snake eyes (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The OED has 1929 for the dice sense.
> In 2005 I posted a 1920 citation.  This is slightly earlier.
> 28 May 1917 _Houston [TX] Chronicle_ p 6 col 8 (genealogybank)
> "Fade you for five.  Come, you dirty ace.  Didn't I say that it would be a =
> snake-eye.  There, you little Joe; no, if it ain't box cars."
> OED does not have "box cars"; dunno about HDAS.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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