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Terms Which Have Disappeared

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by KILO NOVEMBER, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. I'm fond of the old Dragnet radio shows. My local (USA) public radio station airs old radio on Sunday evenings, and Dragnet is on from 7:30 to 8:00. I like them so much, that when I saw a complete collection available on Audible.com, I snapped them up.

    I was taking a walk yesterday at lunch, listening to Dragnet on my iPod. At a certain point in the show, Friday and his partner interview a woman who operates a "French Laundry" in Los Angeles. It took a little Googling to find what a French Laundry is. Most of the hits returned by Google were reviews of a restaurant with that name. One or two involved sex acts. I was pretty sure that Friday and Romero weren't investigating that!

    Eventually, I learned that a French Laundry service provides specialized services in cleaning and pressing unusual or delicate clothing.

    Now these shows were written and presented from the late 1940's though the mid-1950's. I was born in the mid-1950's, and though I have a good memory for words, and I had heard the term before, I had no idea what it meant.

    How about some other terms which have vanished from common use in the past 60 years that were once so common that you could use them in a radio script with the assumption that all the listeners would understand them?
  2. "Automat"?

    I can't think of any kids today who would have any idea what that was, if you just told them straight out "I'll meet you at the automat".
    VintageEveryday likes this.
  3. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    Would anyone today know what the third degree is?

    Blackmail was a serious crime in those days, now if you accuse a Hollywood star of being a drug addict, a pervert, and a thief it only means you have read his autobiography.

    How long has it been since a cop hopped on a running board and yelled "follow that car!"

    Would the younger crowd be puzzled to hear "I was going to phone you but I didn't have a nickel".

    A few years ago I read a detective story from the forties in which one of the characters played a symphony on his Capehart. I had to look that one up.

    Would the term bankroll mean anything in this day of credit cards and debit cards.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  4. Comeon don't make me look Capehart up too.
  5. 1st Degree - Persuasion.

    2nd Degree - Intimidation.

    3rd Degree - Pain.

    Those were the traditional 'three degrees'.

    About the only thing that'll catch people out these days is pedophilia. A'la Michael Jackson.

    Would any of the younger crowd these days understand if you asked them to "rewind" something? (video tape, audio tape, etc). In this world of Repeat, Shuffle, Track-Select and so-forth, I don't think anyone under the age of 20 has ever rewound anything.

    What about the expression "coming on like Gangbusters"?

    Unless you've actually listened to the radio-show, you wouldn't have a CLUE what that means!

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
  6. The other day I had to explain to my niece (age 15) what "cut a rug" meant.
  7. I was dating a girl in the 1990s who, one day, said she need to find a "French Laundry" nearby for a particular skirt she had - my head spun around and asked "a what?" I had never heard the term before. She described it, consistent with what you learned, as a high-end, specialized dry cleaner / laundry that did things that a normal place wouldn't or couldn't do well.
    Since we lived in NYC (where everything exists, for a price), we found one and it was unlike any dry cleaner I had ever been in before. I felt as if I had walked into someone's nice parlor in the 1940s and the woman who helped us (in the parlor, no counter in this establishment) discussed (yes, it felt like a discussion, not a "when do you want it by" shouted at us) our needs (I felt as if I was enrolling my kid in a private school) as she examined the skirt.

    More broadly to your theme, my father was in his forties when I was born in the sixties, so I grew up with and still use words / expressions (and get made fun of, but they truly just come out) such as:

    - Moving pictures
    - Ice box
    - Lunch wagon
    - Rag top
    - Milk man / Milk run (for a train that makes every stop)
    - Lamplighter
    - As good as a certified check
    - Fin - for a $5 bill / Sawbuck for a $10 bill / two-bits for 25cents
    - Clip joint

    These are just off the top of my head, more will rattle out.
  8. A Capehart is a very expensive, very fancy radio-phonograph combination. If you owned one, you were probably an Economic Royalist.
  9. My grandmother was a big movie goer/watcher and she always referred to them as moving pictures, or typically just "pictures". She would say "let's go see that new cowboy picture". She even took me to see my first James Bond "picture". I always found that term very endearing, and it's one of my fondest memories of her.
  10. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Economic Royalist?

    What might I be now that I've sold my Capehart to an occupant of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere?

    Careful, Miss Maine, one would not wish to sound like a broken record.
  11. Actually, I should correct myself. An Economic Royalist would own an E. H. Scott. The owner of a Capehart would be an arriviste. Or a parvenu.
    vitanola likes this.
  12. That's a nice memory. They were always "moving pictures" to my Dad, so much so that even today, I can't break the habit. My mother used "picture," but Dad was "moving pictures." In a digital age, where movie theaters are transition away from film to digital projection, "moving pictures" is becoming even more anachronistic.

    The other day, in the basement of the apartment house I live in, I saw someone was getting a very fancy looking new refrigerator - yet in my mind, I thought, what a fancy "ice-box." I doubt my Dad who lived into the early 90s, used the term refrigerator ten times in his life. Maybe, as with your grandmother, it is a way we stay connected to them.
  13. I wonder if anyone would understand having a watch, or clock, which stopped? Considering how long a watch or clock-battery can last these days. Or, for that matter, winding up a clock, or watch.

    My grandmother, born in 1914, used those phrases constantly whenever I was late for something. Despite the fact that we hadn't a single mechanical clock in the house.
  14. I would (and still do occasionally) hear "ice box" used by various relatives, as well as the generic "frigidaire". And speaking of my grandmother, she was a very vivacious, larger-than-life character full of home-spun wit and wisdom. She often used "colorful" language expressions that probably should not be printed here, while explaining why so-in-so was a ne'er-do-well and why picking strawberries "built character". The latter rubbed off on my dad, as his response to anytime we were cold, hot, wet, dry, tired, sore and just plain miserable was "it builds character".
  15. Common term in Belfast until at least my teens and would probably still be used by people of my age or older.
  16. My Dad and your Dad and Grandmother were cut from the same cloth. Everything hard was character building and everything not hard was another example of "you kids have it too easy." At the margin, these things are true: Adversity in reasonable doses helps build character and too much ease can lead to sloth, but in the extreme, this become the theater of the absurd. I had to beg my Mom to beg my Dad to buy a new rake as most of the teeth were broken, but for a long time, I just heard it builds character. We are talking about raking leaves and having a simple tool in working order to help - I wasn't complaining about raking the leaves, just wanted something to actually rake them with. On the other side, one learned to never complain about not liking some food, because we should be grateful that "there was food to complain about." It wasn't 'till I left home at seventeen that I learned how really absurd the extreme is. That said, I learned a lot from him and have a much stronger character for it - but might have gotten there with a little less absurdity.
  17. I hear you. As a young child, I lived through all those absurd lessons, and as life would have it, later in my younger years (late 70's) things got REALLY tough, and we did without. A lot...probably moreso than most people here have had to. Those "without" days were tough, but looking back there was little complaining, and I'm thankful for that. I guess tough conditions not only builds character but adds perspective as well.
    Stormy likes this.
  18. Kahuna

    Kahuna One of the Regulars

    I'm afraid even the term watch is not long for this world. I live in a university town and if you happen to ask a student what time it is, nine times out of ten they'll whip out their phone.
  19. My maternal grandfather (born 1898) would always refer to sums less than a dollar in terms of "bits"; two bits, four bits, six bits. He always referred to automobiles as "machines", as in, "Watch out! That machine is backing up!"
  20. vitanola

    vitanola My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Good point, but remember that Scott sets were, in their time quite popular amongst successful engineers.

    I've taken about sixteen Capehart sets out of their original homes, and at least here in the Midwest your first estimation of the Capehart was dead-on, for an inordinate number of them came out of the grand homes of Cleveland's version of "old money" in Bratenahl.

    Midwestern "old Money" generally consisted of families who made their initial stake in land speculation in period of settlement, and then went in for manufacturing around the time of the Rebellion or shortly thereafter, whereas East Coast "Old Money" tended to date at least back to the days of whaling or the China Trade.

    As a (perhaps) interesting side note, I recall reading in a 1936 or 1937 issue of Radio Retailing that the technically excellent RCA D-22 High Fidelity Radio Phonograph, probably be best sounding reproducer on the market at the time, and a distance getter which gave the Scotts a real run for their money, was a fart more difficult sale at $600.00 than was the technically mediocre Capehart (which however was fitted with that remarkable turn-over record changer) at $1000.00, owing to the distinctly "middle class" reputation of the Radio Corporation at the time.

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