[Ads-l] "a red mike" USN/USNA slang

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 22 22:29:57 EDT 2019


GO’s great citation comes from a source with many instances of “Red Mike” and “fusser” that can be searched at https://archive.org/stream/luckybag1908unse/luckybag1908unse_djvu.txt <https://archive.org/stream/luckybag1908unse/luckybag1908unse_djvu.txt>. I’ve provided them below with numbers. 

Here is a quick recap: 

In citation 1, the terms are contrasted:

1. A football and crew man of no mean ability. A confirmed Red Mike for two and a half years; now a notorious fusser. 

Citation 6 talks about hops, which surely means dances:

6. 'O THE Red Mikes of the class, the mention of hops will, perhaps, serve simply to recall a long chance at an "unknown," a sacrifice for a friend, or even one of those rainy "Chaney" days we know so well- To the fussers, however, as well as to those who occupy a position between the two, the series of hops seems a sparkling crystal stream in an otherwise somewhat arid waste

Citations 9, 15 and 22 seem to make clear that a fusser is someone who is always charming the ladies. 

9. Has never distinguished himself as a fusser, but treats the fair sex occasionally. 
15. He blossomed out as a fusser during second class year and is all the candy with the fair sex. 
22. A persistent fusser ; he denies it, but he may be seen at every hop giving the ladies a treat (?) 

Citation 11 has the term “drag”, which the HDAS glosses as, among many other things, “currying favor” and “tease/joke”, which is certainly close to charming the ladies:

11. Stands in the front rank of fussers and always drags. 

Citation 12 seems to clinch this interpretation, saying that once your heart is settled on a particular lady, you can no longer play the field:

12. Used to be a fusser before he lost his heart on second class leave. 

A Red Mike, then, would be someone who hangs out with the guys or otherwise doesn’t flirt with the ladies, very much fitting GO’s interpretation of "socially incompetent, timid, gay, or uninterested in the 'fair sex’.” 

JL says that Red Mike is not crude enough to refer to homosexuals and that a term meaning homosexual would not be used in a yearbook. We know that homosexuality did occur in the military (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newport_sex_scandal <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newport_sex_scandal> is a famous example), and there certainly could have been people who used Red Mike with an intonation or intended connotation that equals modern day air quotes to mean homosexual. Like, perhaps, Cary Grant’s “I just went gay” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQDbDIz1Y0E <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQDbDIz1Y0E>), “Red Mike” could have been used as a term for those in the know.

COMPLETE CITATIONS

It would be nice to know what a “rhino” is in citation 3. The OED says a person with thick skin. 

RED MIKE:

1. A football and crew man of no mean ability. A confirmed Red Mike for two and a half years; now a notorious fusser. 

2. Below par in rolling cigarettes, he takes the weed in candied form. A walking Webster and a Red Mike. At one time he graced the ranks of the " fighting sixth," but left it youngster year, and we'll never see sweet Annie any more.

3. "And her name was Maud." A rhino upon entering his present career, yet not a Red Mike. Had hard luck as an underclassman with femmes, but last cruise put him back on an even keel — ask him why Smith is synonymous with getting stung.

4. A little man with a whole lot of nerve. Has the distinction of having once bluffed out Plug. Decidedly a non-greaser. One of the steady Red Mikes. Very fixed in his opinions ; having once decided on a thing, sticks to it. 

5. Bought just one bag of makes during the whole of second class year, though he smokes constantly. One of the Red Mikes, and likes to look forward to the good times on leave.

6. 'O THE Red Mikes of the class, the mention of hops will, perhaps, serve simply to recall a long chance at an "unknown," a sacrifice for a friend, or even one of those rainy "Chaney" days we know so well- To the fussers, however, as well as to those who occupy a position between the two, the series of hops seems a sparkling crystal stream in an otherwise somewhat arid waste…. Back from leave, we started going to hops with characteristic youngster enthusiasm. Perhaps they led to affairs of heart — perhaps they didn't — but whatever their result they seem now a sort of continuous performance that commenced Saturday morning with release from drill. There was the usual rush to shift into uniform, a run for the train that was 
always late, a strenuous afternoon fussing at the football game, fencing tournament or baseball game, and a run back to supper formation, followed by a still-hunt for hop cards the 
committee never had…. Sunday at chapel we met our friends again, showed them the wonders of quarters, fussed until the train left, and then came back to spud salad and the indescribable loneliness of Sunday evening study hour. 

7. Pequot and Eastern Point surpassed even their customary hospitality, the hops at the Griswold were better than ever before ; there was a multitude of charming fair ones; in short, the fussers enjoyed a perfect paradise. But while the fussers were having the time of their lives over on Eastern Point, a select little company of Red Mikes were almost daily congregating in the old Crocker House Grill — in their interest in the marvelous tales that such kindred souls forever tell, prolonging their sessions far into the night and then making a grand rush for the last car. 

8. With my head resting on his shoulder I consoled him, and we swore that henceforth we would be womanhaters and Red Mikes; then I forgot the mental agony of the evening, and we decided that, after all, the whole affair was a frost. It wasn't gotten up in the right way and everything was badly mismanaged, and as for the girls — well, I didn't care half so much for them as I had thought.

FUSSER:
9. Has never distinguished himself as a fusser, but treats the fair sex occasionally. 

10. Quite a fusser, and a member of that " h — 1 raising first section." 

11. Stands in the front rank of fussers and always drags. 

12. Used to be a fusser before he lost his heart on second class leave. 

13. Innocent, but always in trouble; angry, but always laughing ; fusser, but not (?) in love ; an Army man who was side-tracked into the Navy.

14. he has a quiet, winning manner, and has, through this, become he hardest kind of a fusser

15. He blossomed out as a fusser during second class year and is all the candy with the fair sex. 

16. A fusser of the deepest dye, and no festive occasion is complete without his handsome face and figure.

17. Caterer to the " Ark," a fusser of no small ability, but most noteworthy because of his letters. 

18. A confirmed Red Mike for two and a half years; now a notorious fusser.

19. In love unsuccessful, he has retired from feminine circles like the Dutchman who "bevared of vidders." " Fussers be damned ! A book and my class pipe for me." 

20. A Beau Bruinmel, a heart-breaker, a fusser of ability with lots of fussing tact. " That dear, sweet Mr. Mecleary " is constantly heard from mothers and chaperons, proving that he has learned the correct method. 

21. Blossomed out second class year as a heavy fusser, and on the cruise was sure of a letter in every mail. 

22. A persistent fusser ; he denies it, but he may be seen at every hop giving the ladies a treat (?) 

23. A great fusser ; has never failed to go out to dinner on Sunday even during the last part of second class year.

24. A Chesterfield to the extreme, his term of office as prince of fussers seems unlimited.

25. See 6. 

26. The social events are numerous, and" make June Week, for the fussers, a time of the surpassing delight. 

27. The next entertainment planned and carried out was the Christmas show. Even the fussers gave up the informals to learn their parts. 

28. See 7

29. Finally, with one last visit to the Fussers' Paradise, "dear old New London," where we took our cruise exams, we got under way for the capes.

There is also a toast to “Fussers"

Benjamin Barrett (he/his/him)
Formerly of Seattle, WA

> On 21 Aug 2019, at 18:01, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> Homosexuality was so taboo a subject in 1908 that if Annapolis cadets were
> using a special term to refer specifically for gay men, it would
> undoubtedly have been a lot cruder than "Red Mike," and it wouldn't have
> appeared in their yearbook in any case.
> 
> Unless I misread history, "woman-hater," rather like "misogynist," didn't
> ordinarily carry any specially gay overtones.
> 
> JL
> 
> On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 6:50 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> 
>> Here is an instance of "Red Mikes" in 1908. It might mean socially
>> incompetent, timid, gay, or uninterested in the "fair sex".
>> 
>> Year: 1908
>> Title: The Lucky Bag 1908: A Chapter in the History of the United
>> States Naval Academy
>> Volume: XV
>> Article: That Leap Year Dance
>> Quote Page 315
>> Printer: Printed and Arranged by the Hoskins Press, Philadelphia,
>> Pennsylvania
>> 
>> https://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.31951002230017c?urlappend=%3Bseq=243
>> 
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> After four more dances, of which I danced none, I could stand it no
>> longer. There was I, an erstwhile popular man, sitting out all the
>> dances, while my friend who entered the ball-room with fear and
>> trembling was dancing every one and seemed to be the beau of the hour.
>> I realized only too late that I was a fallen angel, a lemon and a gold
>> brick of the first order. Cautiously making my way across the floor I
>> arrived at the receiving stand, where I determined to hide myself
>> behind the large flags in the rear, and there, much to my inward
>> feelings of thankfulness, I found a companion who, like myself, had
>> made a social error in coming to the dance.
>> 
>> With my head resting on his shoulder I consoled him, and we swore that
>> henceforth we would be womanhaters and Red Mikes; then I forgot the
>> mental agony of the evening, and we decided that, after all, the whole
>> affair was a frost.
>> [End excerpt]
>> 
>> On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 6:11 PM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> Earlier and a later RM&Vs
>>> 
>>> 1925 _Washington Evening Star_ (June 25) 39 : Corned beef and
>>> cabbage..."Red Mike and Violets," as the succulent dish is known in less
>>> ornate caravansaries.
>>> 
>>> 1925 _Boston Daily Globe_ (Aug. 28) A-2: NEWTON [Mass.] ... John Nagle,
>>> founder of the Bow Wow Beanery,...is behind the counter again at the City
>>> Hall cafe, dispensing "red Mike and violets" as of yore."
>>> 
>>> (No translation was thought necessary).
>>> 
>>> 1967 _Washington Post_  (Apr. 2) 6: Alas and alack for all hymns to "red
>>> mike and violets" and "Irish turkey," corned beef and cabbage is not now
>>> and never was an Irish dish.
>>> 
>>> JL
>>> 
>>> On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 5:31 PM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com
>>> 
>>> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> Here's another early ex.:
>>>> 
>>>> 1911 _Dallas Morning News_ (June 11) 35: According to the "Lucky Bag,"
>> the
>>>> annual book of the [Annapolis] graduating class,...[he] was a decided
>> "red
>>>> Mike" when he first entered, which means he was timid with the fair
>> sex.
>>>> 
>>>> So far as I know, this sense of the term was peculiar to the Naval
>> Academy.
>>>> 
>>>> JL
>>>> 
>>>> JL
>>>> 
>>>> On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 4:01 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <
>>>> adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>>> Barry Popik has a pertinent food entry.
>>>>> 
>>>>> 
>> https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/red_mike_and_violets
>>>>> 
>>>>> [Begin excerpt]
>>>>> Entry from March 14, 2019
>>>>> Red Mike and Violets (corned beef and cabbage)
>>>>> "Red Mike and violets” was hash house slang for a dish of “corned beef
>>>>> and cabbage.” Corned beef is red, cabbage is violet and “Mike” is a
>>>>> traditional Irish name. Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional
>>>>> Irish-American dish that has been frequently served on Thursdays and
>>>>> on St. Patrick’s Day.
>>>>> [End excerpt]
>>>>> 
>>>>> The first citation Barry lists is dated May 17, 1914.
>>>>> 
>>>>> On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 12:48 PM Jonathan Lighter
>>>>> <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> ca1909 in Mame Warren & Marion Warren _Everybody Works but John Paul
>>>>>> Jones_  (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1981) 109: The very few
>>>>> [naval]
>>>>>> cadets who take no part in the hops and other social events are
>> branded
>>>>>> "red [sic] Mikes."
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 1906 Chauncey M'Govern _Sarjint Larry an' Frinds_  (Manila: Escolta
>>>>> Press)
>>>>>> [glossary] : RED MIKE - Canned salmon.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> 1920 [U.S. Artillery] _Hicoxy's Army_  [pvtly. ptd.] 33 [ref. to
>> 1918]:
>>>>>> When we weren't picking rusty shell splinters out of our portion of
>> Red
>>>>>> Mike or Monkey Meat, we were continuing to enjoy life.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> I don't see the regimental history _Hicoxy's Army_ in WorldCat, but
>> NYPL
>>>>>> had the copy I used.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> JL
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 10:14 AM Stephen Goranson <
>> goranson at duke.edu>
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Not in OED. (HDAS not available for R). Green's Slang online
>> gives 1
>>>>> (US
>>>>>>> milit.) canned salmon 1906; 2 corned beef 1935.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Whether related to the above or not, three other uses of the
>>>>> collocation
>>>>>>> follow.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> a) June 18, 1922 Anaconda [Montana] Standard, p 15? col. 3 "Eight
>>>>> Montana
>>>>>>> Boys Graduate...Annapolis..."
>>>>>>> "Pete," it is learned, now looks on the fair sex with toleration.
>> "As
>>>>> a
>>>>>>> 'Red Mike'"--apparently the navy name for a woman-hater--"Pete was
>>>>> always a
>>>>>>> loud claimant for first honors in the society," says the class
>>>>> Boswell,
>>>>>>> "until he reached the Pall [Pali, Bali?] He tumbled there for a
>> little
>>>>>>> Hawaiian maiden....he has softened to the fair sex ever since."
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> b) July 26, 1936 Times-Picayune p 75 col. 1"Ensigns mustn't Marry"
>>>>>>> Her smile was calculated to rock even a Red Mike like Bill.
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> c) In a 1940 US Naval Academy yearbook, certain midshipmen are
>>>>> describes
>>>>>>> as examples of a "red mike," someone apparently not interested in
>>>>> women.[1]
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> [1] many searchable instances in:
>>>>>>> https://archive.org/details/luckybag1940unse
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> Stephen Goranson
>>>>>>> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> 
>>>>>>> [https://archive.org/services/img/luckybag1940unse]<
>>>>>>> https://archive.org/details/luckybag1940unse>
>>>>>>> Lucky Bag : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet
>> Archive<
>>>>>>> https://archive.org/details/luckybag1940unse>
>>>>>>> EMBED (for wordpress.com hosted blogs and archive.org item
>>>>> <description>
>>>>>>> tags)
>>>>>>> archive.org
>>>>>>> 


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