[Ads-l] Antedating busboy (bus boy) and "omnibus boy"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 11 18:37:30 UTC 2017

Barry Popik previously shared "busboy" 1911 on ADS-L<http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2003-July/032625.html>.

I just ran across "bus boy" in a want-ad in the St. Louis Republic, May 28, 1901, page 10 (chronicling America).

"Boy Wanted. Experienced bus boy at the Breitling Restaurant."

As others have mentioned here<http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2003-July/032630.html>, "bus boy" is from "omnibus" (1888), an industry term for waiters' assistant.

I found a job description written by a manager of Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City in 1896.

“Having become proficient in storeroom work, the embryo waiter is allowed to come into the café or the restaurant as a general utility man or ‘omnibus,’ as he is called by the profession.  His duties consist in cleaning off the tables, carrying off the dishes, running for a bottle of wine, getting ice; in short, be at the beck and call of the waiters, whom he must assist in whatever way he may be of service to them.”

The Sun (New York), December 06, 1896, Part III, Page 5.

"Omnibus boy" is recorded at least as early as 1896.  From a report on a trial for murder of a woman accused of poisoning her mother:

"James Redmond, the omnibus boy of the hotel, testified that he took an order from the defendant on August 30, 1895, for a bowl of clam chowder and a piece of lemon pie."

The Daily Morning Journal and Courier, June 09, 1896, page 1.

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

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