Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 23:31:57 EDT
From: "Barry A. Popik"
Subject: Twenty-Three Skidoo

"Twenty-three skidoo"--an American slang classic--will surely be in the
RHHDAS P-Z, maybe in several entries ("twenty-three," "skidoo/skiddoo,"
"twenty-three skidoo/skiddoo"). I had previously worked on "23"; here's new
stuff on "skidoo."
"_Twenty-three_ in _twenty-three skiddoo_" was in COMMENTS ON ETYMOLOGY,
March-April 1995, pages 28-34. I had found "George Ade Explains 'Twenty-
Three,' A New Slang Phrase" in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday magazine, 3
December 1899. I have also found many other explanations (not published in
COE) that give credence to the Dickens' TALE OF TWO CITIES play theory, with
Dickens' hero the 23rd person to meet his death.
Peter Tamony's files were consulted, and the 1906 song "Skiddoo!
Skiddoo! Twenty-Three for You!" by Leslie Holdsworth was reprinted in COE.
In the Library of Congress, I had found MANY other songs:

SKIDOO! 23 FOR YOU (1906) by William J. Weidman (words) and Edward Favenza
SKIDDOO, "23" (1907) by Joseph A. Basso.
23 SKIDOO (1958) by Charles Robert Jones.
SKIDDOO FOR YOU (1906) by Harriet Jandt Flinn (words) and Edna Jandt Baker
SKIDOO STREET (1906) by Anson F. Robinson.
"SKIDOO" TWO STEP (1906) by Gertrude E. Buck.
SKIDDOO (1906) by Claribelle Gardner.
23 (THAT MEANS PULL FREIGHT) (1906) by George A. Norton.

I had thought that that was it.
Today, I was going through American popular songs and found two more:

"23" SKIDDOO (1906) by Joseph S. Miller (words) and Oscar Boecher (music).
SKIDOO! FOR YOU (1906) by Jimmie Barry.

The latter song is very important. The cover says "FEATURED WITH GREAT
SUCCESS BY MR. and MRS. JIMMIE BARRY." Four comic "skidoo!" illustrations are
shown. Eleven extra "skidoo!" verses are given. Barry's SKIDOO! FOR YOU song

I suppose you've heard of the latest word
In the english language
It was coined by a fellow named Billy B. Van
To use upon the stage
It made a hit and has gone the rounds
You hear it ev'ry day
And when you're least expecting it
You'll hear somebody say.

You hear it ev'rywhere
It seems to be in the air.

So I had an idea that it would not be wrong
With "SKID-OO" for a subject I'd write a song
If you'll listen a minute, it won't take long
And then I'll "SKID-OO" "SKID-OO."

A young girl thought that she would like
To go upon the stage
She said she knew if she got the chance
That she become the rage
At last an opportunity came
And she went on one night
But when she started in to sing
It sounded like a fight.

Some one yelled out loud
It was somebody in the crowd.

And then with noise the theater shook
She tried to give them a pleasant look
But the gallery boys yelled "Get the Hook" (RHHDAS has 1907--ed.)
And "SKID-OO" for you "SKID-OO"
(Extra 11 verses not included--ed.)

I haven't had a chance to check the New York Times Personal Name Index and
Variety Obituaries and Worldcat (author search) and various Lincoln Center
library card files (not on computer) for "Billy B. Van."