Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 14:41:51 EST
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Sky line; Ragged edge; Muckers; Psycho; Yellow dog


Barnhart's Dictionary of Etymology has "skyline (1824, line where earth
and sky meet, horizon; 1896, outline of buildings against the sky, in writings
of George Bernard Shaw)."
We can beat the latter by over two decades. In fact, "sky line" appears
before the first "sky scraper" building. This is from the New York Commercial
Advertiser, 27 February 1875, pg. 1, col. 2:

New York's Sky Line.
In an interesting letter to the Boston _Advertiser_, from an occasional
correspondent in this City, we find the following: "Absolute flatness could
never be predicated of Manhattan Island. The City Hall Park is not less than
thirty feet above tide water; and Broadway, as every omnibus horse knows to
his cost, is an undulatory and even sharply hilly thoroughfare. One ascends
gradually from the Battery, abruptly (going in the opposite direction) from
Canal street; and the ferries on both rivers land their passengers at the foot
of a considerable incline. The plateau thus bounded has till of late years
had a uniform outline, much as described by Baron Hubner. Formerly, in order
to obtain a characteristic view of the City, it was deemed necessary to
approach it from the lower bay--or "end on," as we might express it. In the
geographies in vogue a quarter of a century ago (in Woodbridge's, for example,
as I remember it), we were shown the round fort on Governor's Island, the
Battery, and Trinity Church; that was New York looking north. Now an artist
or a photographer would plant himself rather on the Jersey or the Long Island
shore, preferring the panoramic to the perspective view. In place of a line
rising from the water's edge to Trinity Church, and thence substantially
horizontal till the clock-tower of the City Hall was reached, one now sees
(say from Hoboken) first the square mass of Babbitt's soap factory; next
Trinity; then the Equitable and Mutual Life Buildings; then the roof of the
Delaware and Hudson Canal Company's Office; then the Western Union Telegraph
Company's mammoth edifice; then in the huddle, the _Evening Post_, Park Bank
and _Herald_ Buildings, pierced by the spire of St. Paul's, then the Post
Office, the tower and high roof of the _Tribune_ Building, the twin piers of
the Brooklyn Bridge, and finally City Hall. From this point Northward the
line becomes tolerably even again, but is broken at short intervals by spires,
pavilions and domes, more numerous than striking, till the City vista is cut
off by the factory-like Manhattan Market, and the eye rests delightedly on the
natural shapes of the unharvested cliffs of the Hudson.


I previously said that the Beecher-Tilton affair was called "the ragged
edge trial."
"Ragged edge" was also in the Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 20 March 1875,
publication, 17 March 1875, pg. 4, col. 1, "The 'ragged-edge' men in
Cincinnati just now are the members of the Johnston Democracy." The New-York
Commercial Advertiser, 27 April 1875, pg. 2, col. 3, has "matters are still on
the 'r-gg-d edge.'"


This possible antedate (see the RHHDAS) is from the Cincinnati Daily
Gazette, 22 January 1875, pg. 4, col. 1:

What is BISMARCK about? Does he think that the German fatherland extends
across the Atlantic, and is he about to interpose diplomatic remonstrances, or
adopt even sterner policy against Puritanic "muckers?"


Barnhart's Dictionary of Etymology has 1927 for "psycho." But perhaps
the first "psycho" was not a person at all!
This is from the Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 12 February 1875, pg. 4, col.

The Automaton Card Player.
From the London Times.
The new automaton invented by Mr. John Neuil Maskelyne and Mr. John
Algernon Clarke, which appears twice daily in Messrs. Maskelyne and Cooke's
entertainment at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, is not a deception like Baron
Kempler's renowned chess player. (...) The marvel of the new invention of
Mr. Maskelyne and Mr. Clarke consists in three distinctive features--the
figure has no living being within it; it is perfectly isolated from any
connection--mechanical, electrical, magnetical, or otherwise conceivable--with
any operator at a distance; and yet, nevertheless, it plays a game of whist
with no little skill, performs arithmetical calculations, obeys by its
movements the directions of any person in the audience, and accomplishes a
number of very surprising feats with cards chosen and names written by the
audience. "Psycho," as the automaton has been named,...


Sure, I'd trust a yellow dog. This is from the New York Tribune, 9
February 1875, pg. 6, col. 6:

A "yaller" dog has covered himself with glory as a traveler or pilgrim or
quadrupedestrian. He was taken last Fall from Indiana to Kansas. But he
didn't like Kansas, and was homesick through and through. He found meat
scarce and was averse to a diet of grasshoppers. So he tramped it over miles
and miles of desolate prairies; he swam the Kansas and Missouri Rivers; and
one day, footsore, weary, and lean, he barked at the old door. He was six
weeks upon the journey; and the first thing he did upon getting home was to
eat his dinner calmly, the next to drive the pigs out of the yard according to
his ancient custom. He had learned something, but had forgotten nothing. If
ever dog deserved a silver collar and unlimited bones for life, he is the


At a chapter of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) on
Saturday, February 28th, 3:25-3:40 p.m., at the Brooklyn Heights Library, I'll
lecture on the origin of "New York Yankees," "Bronx Bombers," and "Subway
Series." Most everything has already been posted here. I did the origin of
the "fan" at the SABR meeting in 1996. About 130 people show up. I'll also
write it in article form for Yankees Magazine.
From March 5-20th I'll be in Guatemala (no internet!), touring the Mayan
sites and investigating the origin of "chocolate." There is a safety risk,
and it was a tough choice between being robbed in Guatemala or dying from
anthrax poisoning on the New York City subways.