[Ads-l] Quote: Coolidge was weaned on a pickle

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 20 08:59:09 UTC 2019

The saying in the subject line has been investigated by several
researchers. It is often attributed to Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Now
the QI website has an entry:

The only trouble with Coolidge is that he was weaned on a pickle.

There is substantive evidence that Longworth did make a remark of this
type in 1924; however, she disclaimed its creation in her 1933
autobiography. In addition, the core of the insult was circulating by
the 1860s.

In 1864 comedian William B. Brown booked a venue in Montpelier,
Vermont. The local newspaper published effusive praise for his
forthcoming performance and guaranteed that even dejected individuals
would enjoy the levity.

[ref] 1864 March 7, Walton’s Daily Journal, That Comical Brown, Quote
Page 2, Column 1, Montpelier, Vermont. (Newspapers_com)  [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
. . . Mr. Brown has taken the largest Hall in Montpelier, it will
undoubtedly be crowded with as happy a congregation of mortals as ever
assembled within its walls, for if any man can make a poor, miserable,
dyspeptic, weaned-on-a-pickle curmudgeon laugh till his sides ache,
Brown is the man.
[End excerpt]

Barry Popik found an instance of the Coolidge insult in August 30,
1924. I was able to push this date back to June 13, 1924.

[Begin acknowledgement]
Thanks to previous researchers including Barry Popik, Ralph Keyes,
Nigel Rees, and Fred Shapiro who located valuable citations.
[End acknowledgement]

Feedback welcome,
Garson O'Toole

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

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