Friday, July 25, 2008

Adam and Eve on a raft....

I'm a fan of old movies. TCM (Turner Classic Movies for the uninitiated) is on most days in my house and I spend a good deal of time in a black and white world. There are many reasons that old movies speak to me - the actors, the wardrobe, the storytelling - and sometimes just for the dialogue. I find the language of the early 20th century fascinating. Slang cracks me up, mainly when it is out of use and faded into obscurity. Every time I hear William Bendix call out that the guy was "a heel, a pair of heels" I can't help but smile. Boy, is that different than some of the things folks call each other today. Sure, the censorship in the movies of that time forced some creative writing, but I think slang was a bigger part of daily vocabulary than it is today.

Take as Exhibit A, the diner. Diner lingo is famous and sadly obscure. I always wanted to own a diner, a coffee and pie kind of place, and use the lingo (Order up: a Blond with Sand and Eve with a lid on - for some coffee with sugar and cream and a slice of apple pie, thank you).

I found a great page of diner slang that sadly only exists in Google's cache. The author, Dave Hutchins of Des Moines, Iowa, posted a laundry list of phrases, which I have copied here to preserve*. I don't know where he got all of these, many of which I recognize, but I'd love to know his source. Maybe he watches a lot of TCM.

Bubble dancer: Dish washer
Gallery: Booth
Crowd: Three of any thing (as in Two is company three is a crowd)
Bridge Party: Four of any thing from the bridge game
Eighty Six: The kitchen is out of the item ordered
Go for a walk or on wheels: it’s to go
In the alley: Served as a side dish
Lumber: toothpick
Chopper: Table knife
Blue plate special: a dish of meat, potato, vegetable (also daily special)
Sea Dust: Salt
Mike & Ike or the twins: salt & pepper shakers
Hemorrhage: Ketchup
Paint it Red: Put ketchup on it
Light House: Ketchup bottle
Mississippi mud or yellow paint: Mustard
Warts: Olives
Java or Joe: Cup of coffee
Draw one or a cup of mud: Cup of coffee
Pair of drawers: two cups of coffee
Draw one in the dark: A Black coffee
No cow: without milk
A blond with sand: Coffee with cream and sugar
Hot top: Hot Chocolate
Boiled leaves: Tea
A spot with a twist: Cup of tea with lemon
Yum yum or sand: Sugar
Gravel train: Sugar bowl
Sun kiss or oh gee: Orange juice
Hug one or squeeze one: Orange juice
Moo juice, Baby juice, Sweet Alice: Milk

Canned cow: Evaporated milk
Billiard: Buttermilk
Throw it in the mud: Add Chocolate syrup
Hail: Ice
Balloon juice: Seltzer or soda water
Belch water: Alka Seltzer
Hold the hail: No ice
Wind mill, Adams ale, city juice, dog soup: A glass of water
Shoot from the south: CocaCola
An MD: Dr Pepper
Fifty-five: A glass of root beer
Black and white: Chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream
White cow: Vanilla milk shake
Shake one in the hay: Strawberry milk shake
Break it and shake it: Add egg to a drink
Creep: Draft beer
Life preserver: Doughnut
Bird seed: Breakfast
Bailed hay: Shredded wheat
Burn the British: Toasted English muffin
Looseners: Prunes
Graveyard stew: Milk toast (buttered toast sprinkled with sugar
and cinnamon, dropped in a bowl of milk)
Cackle fruit: Eggs
Cow paste, Skid grease, Axel grease: Butter
Smear: Margarine
CJ: Boston Cream cheese and Jelly
Dough well done with cow: Buttered toast
Whiskey: Rye bread
Whiskey down: rye toast
Shingle with a shimmy and a shake: Buttered toast with jam or jelly
Fry two let the sun shine: 2 eggs with unbroken yolks
Flop two fry: two eggs any style
Dead eye: Poached eggs

Customer will take a chance: Hash
Sweep the kitchen: Hash
Mystery in the alley: Side order of hash
Adam & eve on a raft: Two poached eggs on toast
Cowboy or western: A western omelet or sandwich
Zeppelin: Sausage
Blow out patches: Pancakes
Stack or short stack: Order of pancakes
Vermont: Maple syrup
Machine oil: Syrup
Radio: Tuna salad sandwich
One from the alps: A Swiss cheese sandwich
GAC: Grilled American cheese sandwich
Jack Benny: Cheese with bacon (Named after Jack Benny)
High and dry: A plain sandwich with nothing on it
Rabbit food: Lettuce
Keep off the grass: No Lettuce
Breath: Onion
Pin a rose on it: Add Onion to a order
Burn one: Fry a hamburger
Hockey Puck: A hamburger well done
Two cows make them cry: two hamburgers with onion
Burn one take it through the garden: Hamburger with lettuce tomato, onion
Bow Wow, Ground hog: A hot dog
Blood hounds in the hay: Hot dogs and sauerkraut
Bullets or whistle berries: Baked beans
Million on a platter: Plate of baked beans
Bossy in a bowl: Beef stew
Frenchman’s delight: Pea soup
Frog sticks: French Fries
Bowl of Red: Chili con carne
Wax: American cheese
Put out the lights and cry: Liver and onions

Aren't these Jake? You certainly know your onions now. On the level.

*edited slightly for readability

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