[Ads-l] African Dodgers (and dunk tanks) (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill CIV (US) william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL
Wed Jun 8 19:47:03 UTC 2016


The subject phrase has come up on ADS-L several times.

Peter Reitan recently blogged about it:

https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2016/06/dodgers-and-dips-dark-history-of-dunk.html .

He found the activity as far back as 1884, and the phrase in 1887.

George Thompson has found the phrase in 1885:


I had previously found the variant "Ethiopian Ball Dodger" in 1882


Here is an earlier cite:

_Huntington [IN] Herald_ 23 Sep 1881 p 3 col 3
"There is a new dodge in the African dodger line this year.  In place of the burnt cork artist who heretofore has been in the habit of sticking his head through a hole made in a canvass background, a man has substituted a monkey."

Reitan found "African Dip" (a dunk tank with a black guy in the seat) 8/25/1910.  Here are slightly earlier cites:

_Billboard_  26 Mar 1910 p 32 col 2 [display ad for device, with picture ]
"African Dip Co., Box 34, Zanesville, Ohio."

_Belvidere [IL] Daily Republican_ 19 Jul 1910 p 2 col 4
"Elmer Barker and P. O. Keeling departed last evening for Griggsville, Ill., with their "African Dip" to start on a circuit of five fairs in that vicinity."

Reitan reports a generic "dunk tank" citation from  11/28/1945, but the metadata for that page was wrong (it was from 1976).  The earliest legitimate cite I find is

Wilmington OH _Daily News Journal_ 18 Oct 1950 p 15 col 3 [classified ad]
"Dunk 'em Tank, special attraction at the Halloween Carnival Adams School, Friday, October 20."

_Albany [OR] Democrat-Herald_ 12 Dec 1950 part 3 p 9 col 4
"During Sweet Home Frontier Days, the club had a "dunk tank" at the concession grounds and all funds were turned over to the swimming pool fund."


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

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