[Ads-l] another, earlier Cowabunga

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 25 18:21:10 UTC 2020

Here’s an interview with Kean on the origin of the word: https://www.buzzfeed.com/leonoraepstein/what-the-hell-does-cowabunga-mean-anyhow <https://www.buzzfeed.com/leonoraepstein/what-the-hell-does-cowabunga-mean-anyhow>

He says that he coined “kawagoopa” as a greeting word and that it was sweet, soft, charming and lovely.

He says that he “somehow" coined “cowabunga,” which was good for frustration/anger because of the hard syllables [starting with] “g” and “b.”

As for the Australian place name, the river looks to be Yappar River (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yappar_River <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yappar_River>). Wikipedia says that it flows into the Norman River. The area can be seen on Google Maps: https://tinyurl.com/yx5ra9ga <https://tinyurl.com/yx5ra9ga>

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karumba,_Queensland <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karumba,_Queensland>), the town of Karumba is 71 km from Normantown and is located at the mouth of the Norman, the name originating by the 1880s from “Kurumba,” a Kareldi name. FWIW, although Karumba is on the coast, the Gulf of Carpentaria is evidently not good for surfing (https://tinyurl.com/rqbqmvv <https://tinyurl.com/rqbqmvv>).

Although Kean may have picked up the place name at some point, he says he coined it after kawagoopa, so that seems unlikely as a source. 

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

> On 25 Jan 2020, at 06:11, Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU> wrote:
> Some of us recall cowabunga from the Howdy Doody Show on TV in the 1950s. And later among surfers and others (e.g., Bart Simpson and, I read, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
> According to Historical Dictionary of American Slang:
> "1975 John Alego (priv. communication) (Sept. 19): "Buffalo Bob" Smith tells me that he believes the word was invented by a Howdy Doody writer, Eddie Kean [1924-2010], for Chief Thunderthud. Buffalo Bill spells it kawabonga, and says it indicated bad things. There was a companion, joyous term kawagoopa. The fact that the distressful word has survived and the joyful one not, I suppose is paradigmatic."
> [Or, one might say, the surviving word meliorated.]
> It may be merely quite coincidental, but Cowabunga was a place name in Queensland, Australia.
> From Trove Newspapers:
> 1926, March 18
> Land for Lease and Selection
> Cowabunga--An area of 190 square miles, comprising Crown Lands, situated on the left back of the Yappan [OCR has Tappan, I guess incorrectly] River, adjoining Headwater and Harlem holdings. [....][1]
> 1944, May  19
> Crown Land for Pastoral Lease
> Cowabunga Block will be open on...at the land office Normanton [....][2]
> This may well have been unknown to Edward Keane. Wikipedia: "....Kean served in the United States Navy<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Navy> during World War II<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II>. He was based at Cornell University<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornell_University> through the V-12 Navy College Training Program<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-12_Navy_College_Training_Program> and earned a degree from Columbia University<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_University>.[2]<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Kean#cite_note-LATObit-2>" Note 2: LA Times obituary, credits him for coining kowabonga/cowabunga.
> The Queensland location is inland, so not a surfing spot. The name--indigenous Australian?
> Stephen Goranson
> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
> PS. We had a 45 record with songs, "Howdy Doody means Hello" and "Save your pennies, and soon you'll have a nickel..."
> [1] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/60929602?searchTerm=cowabunga&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
> [http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page4991629-t]<https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/60929602?searchTerm=cowabunga&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc>
> LAND FOR LEASE AND SELECTION. - Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 - 1954) - 18 Mar 1926<https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/60929602?searchTerm=cowabunga&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc>
> The Government is offering a considerable quantity of Crown land for lease. As some is in territory blessed with rain, it may aford drought relief. ...
> trove.nla.gov.au
> [2] https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/170399048?searchTerm=cowabunga&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc
> [http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page20048313-t]<https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/170399048?searchTerm=cowabunga&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc>
> Advertising - Cloncurry Advocate (Qld. : 1931 - 1953) - 19 May 1944<https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/170399048?searchTerm=cowabunga&searchLimits=sortby=dateAsc>
> trove.nla.gov.au

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