Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘Chumley’s Rest’

A Face To Stop A Clock

Posted by Admin on April 1, 2011

The movie Harvey starring Jimmy Stewart in the role of Elwood P. Dowd had a number of interesting phrases and expressions, not the least of which was talk of having a face to stop a clock.  In the movie, Elwood says:

ELWOOD – Well, you’ve heard the expression ‘His face would stop a clock’? Well, Harvey — can look at your clock and stop it. And you can go anywhere you like — with anyone you like — and stay as long as you like — and when you get back — not one minute will have ticked by.

When someone says his face would stop a clock, it means that the other person has an unexpectedly unattractive face. 

In the “Tale of the Tudors” from the Warner Brothers’ animated television series, Histeria! that ran from 1998 to 2000, the following is found:

Boys:     So for a while, our Henry grieves,
              Then he marries Anne of Cleves.
              Anne came from fine German stock,
Toast:   She had a face that could stop a clock.
Girls:    Their marriage was cancelled in less than a year,
              His fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was dear.
             But Henry found out that her love was not true.

The Dallas Morning News ran a story on January 12, 1986 that read:

The Goddess of Liberty might have a face that could stop a clock on the University of Texas Tower, but she suddenly has attracted her share of suitors. At least two groups want to move the 3000-pound zinc statue out of Austin and put her on permanent display elsewhere.

Just shy of 26 years before that news article, the Milwaukee Journal edition of January 13, 1961 ran the column written by Ione Quingy Griggs of the Journal Staff.  From what Idiomation can see, Mrs. Griggs was a cross between Miss Manners and Dear Abby, offering up advice to those who were at a loss as to how to proceed with a particular situation.  The topic that day was how to copy with a mother-in-law who picked people apart and respones from readers whose opinion differed from Ms. Griggs’ earlier published opinion on the matter.  The following, authored by “Troubled Owner Of Mink Coat,” is an excerpt fromher response.

I read with interest your suggestion that a daughter-in-law voice the words “I am sorry” to her mother-in-law.  In my case it should be my husband’s mother to say it.  But no, she is always right everybody is wrong!  I’m not one to hold grudges, but when she sits with a face to stop a clock because my husband gives me a mink coat for Christmas, I’m ready to give up.  The mink coat was a surprise.  Everyone but Gran raved about it.  She sat frozen faced!

The expression was also found in a news story published on October 19, 1888 in the Chicago Daily Tribune in a story entitled, “The Beautiful Boston Man.”

After the parade the other day a well known Bostonian who is unfortunate in having a face to stop a clock approached an offer of the Cadets in a patronizing sort of way and said, “I saw your company today old man It looked very well very well indeed.”

Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of the expression, a face to stop a clock, however it can safely be assumed that if it was used in a news story in 1888 that it was a well-understood phrase among the Chicago Daily Tribune‘s readership and one can guess that the expression dates back at least to the  mid-1870s.

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Everything’s Just Peachy

Posted by Admin on March 29, 2011

In the movie, Harvey, Dr. Sanderson has been sacked for having Veta locked up in the sanitarium, Chumley’s Rest, rather than her brother, Elwood.  At this point, the director of Chumley’s Rest is out looking for Elwood and the following exchange occurs between Wilson, an attendant at Chumley’s Rest, Dr. Sanderson and Kelly, his nurse.

WILSON – Hey, any of the patients been actin’ up, Kelly?

KELLY – Everything’s just peachy.

WILSON – That’s good – when are you takin’ off, Doc?

SANDERSON – Right now – I was just waiting for Dr. Chumley to get back.

WILSON – Hey, wait a second.  Didn’t Dr. Chumley come back here with that psycho?

More recently, sportinglife.com published an online story on January 19, 2011 about Michael Owen on defending his Real Madrid record.  He did this by helping Wanderley Luxemburgo’s men to a 4-2 defeat of Barcelona at the Bernabeu.  The headline read:

Everything Is Peachy For Goal Scorer Owen

Back on April 12, 1984 the Los Angeles Times reported on the 10-day-old strike by 3 unions against 32 major hotels and casinos in Las Vegas.  The MGM Grand Hotel‘s spokesman, Bill Bray is quoted as saying, “We’re not saying everything is peachy. Everything is not peachy.” He went on to say that MGM Grand Hotel had been handing out a letter to guests saying that because of the current labor dispute, the MGM Grand Hotel was  temporarily unable to provide guests with the level of service for which the MGM Grand Hotel was known.

Back on September 27, 1948 the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on radio personality, Jim Hawthorne and a small town known in California known as Hawthorne situated not far from Hollywood. 

City fathers of the little nearby town of Hawthorne, Calif., found themselves with all the headaches of a radio station, none of the profits and a peeve on for a screwball disk jockey also named HawthorneThe problem lay in the fact that Jim Hawthorne opened up his half-hour show with, “This is Hawthorne.” 

The list of complaints against Jim Hawthorne were numerous and included the following:

He’s even invented a new language built around the key-word “Hogan.”  He’ll say:  “I was driving my Hoganmobile around Pasa-hogan so I stopped at a drive-a-Hogan for a Hoganburger.”

His adjectives range from “keen” to “peachy keen” to “oh so peachy keen.”

The kids on his “net-to-net coastwork” eat it up.  So, apparently, do the natives of Hawthorne who think their home town (pop. 16,000) has suddenly blossomed out with a local radio station.

The sad truth of the matter was that the town of Hawthorne didn’t have a radio station.  But that didn’t deter Hawthorne from hiring a skywriter to splash “Tune in to Hawthorne’s show” across the sky which led to twice as many letters piling up in the town of Hawthorne, begging to know how businesses could buy a radio spot on Hawthorne’s radio station.  The end result?

Disc-jockey Hawthorne, whose brainstorm upped his salary from $85 a week on a tiny station to four-figures with ABC network, thinks the whole thing is “peachy keen.”  Hawthorne city officials have another word for it.

The Pittsburgh Press reported on a baseball game back on July 28, 1910.  It recounted the story that “faith which keeps the horizon tinted with the amethyst and gold of romance, which fills the fields with fairy rings, which peoples the trees with dryads and the fountain with nymphs is, in this age of iron and steel and oil, a hard thing.”  The focus of the story was on Outfielder Anderson of the Deep Haven, Michigan baseball team and the headline read:

Outfielder Anderson’s Peachy Catch

Idiomation was unable to find an earlier published version of peachy, however, the fact that it was used in a headline with the expectation that readers of the Pittsburg Press would understand what was meant by the word peachy indicates that it was already part of the vernacular at the time and therefore, dates back to at least 1900.

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