Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Posts Tagged ‘1959’

Moons And Goochers

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2013

If you watched the 1986 movie “Stand By Me” or read the 1983 story “The Body” you might remember the scene where the four boys are flipping coins to see which of them has to go to the store and pick up “supplies” for their overnight adventure. The idea is that in flipping coins, the odd man out has to go pick them up.

Now if, in the flipping of the coins, everyone gets heads, that’s called a moon. But if everyone gets tails, it’s extraordinary bad luck and it’s called a goocher. Regardless, a moon or a goocher are definitely out of the norm and so a goocher is something out of the norm that isn’t necessarily good. The explanation is found in Stephen King’s novella “The Body” that was the basis for the movie “Stand By Me” and in the movie, Teddy Duchamp says to Vern Lachance:

Vern-o, no one believes that crap about moons and goochers anymore, it’s baby stuff! Now come on, flip again.

In Stephen King’s 1983 novella, “The Body” included in the book “Different Seasons” the scene rolls out as follows:

“Nobody believes that crap about moons and goochers,” Teddy said impatiently. “It’s baby stuff, Vern. You gonna flip or not?”

Vern flipped, but with obvious reluctance. This time he, Chris, and Teddy all had tails. I was showing Thomas Jefferson on a nickel. And I was suddenly scared. It was as if a shadow had crossed some inner sun. They still have a goocher, the three of them, as if dumb fate had pointed at them a second time. Abruptly I thought of Chris saying: I just get a couple of hairs and Teddy screams and down he goes. Weird huh?

Three tails, one head.

Then Teddy was laughing his crazy, cackling laugh and pointing at me and the feeling was gone.

Try as Idiomation did, we were unable to track down an earlier published version of the expression moons and goochers and so it seems to have first appeared in Stephen King’s story published in 1983 (set in 1959 over Labor Day weekend in Oregon in the movie, and in 1960 in Maine in the book). This presents Idiomation with a conundrum: either this is an expression Stephen King coined in 1983 or this is an expression he and his friends used as 12-year-olds in 1959.

If we’re lucky, maybe Mr. King could send someone over to let us know where the idiom is from and settle this question.

Posted in Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Alive And Kicking

Posted by Admin on November 30, 2010

The phrase “alive and kicking” has had some interesting limelight time over the decades.  It’s been used as a film title for the Richard Harris movie in 1959 and as a Broadway title in 1950 for a musical revue and a pop song by Simple Minds in 1985 and an album title by Scottish rock band Nazareth in 2003 and more. 

In 1877, Benham & Harrison & J.B.  Harvey in collaboration with E. Durrant and Co published “The Tendring Hundred in the Olden Time: A Series of Sketches by J. Yelloly Watson, F.G.S.”  In the book, the following is written:

The result of this transaction was that the King’s favourite obtained a grant of the reversing of Lord Darcy’s estates, sold one-half to Lord Darcy’s son-in-law, kept half for another bargain, and put, meanwhile, £24,000 in his pocket.  But Lord Darcy was alive and kicking, and he afterwards himself found favour at Court, and was made Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, and on the 5th July, 1621, created Viscount Colchester, with remainder to the aforesaid Sir Thomas Savage, Baronet, of Rochsavage (who had married his eldest daughter) and their issue with a grant of £8 per annum out of the fee-farm rent of the town of Colchester.

In the 1850 book “Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions” by Charles Mackay, he wrote:

After such prophets as they, the almanac-makers hardly deserve to be mentioned: no, not even the renowned Partridge, whose wonderful prognostications set all England agog in 1708, and whose death, at a time when he was still alive and kicking, was so pleasantly and satisfactorily proved by Isaac Bickerstaff.  The anti-climax would be too palpable, and they and their doings must be left uncommemorated.

That being said, the earliest published use of the phrase “alive and kicking” appeared in court documents in England that date back to 1801 wherein a crab-boy was reported to have said in a court of law:

I left them [the crabs] all alive and kicking, your honour, when I came to church.

While I couldn’t find an earlier reference to the phrase “alive and kicking” that the one in 1801, the fact that it was part of the vernacular wherein even crab-boys felt the court would understand what was meant by the phrase indicates that the phrase has been around much longer than just 200 or so years.

Posted in Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »