Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 11:40:19 +0000
From: Jim Rader jrader[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]M-W.COM
Subject: Re: skell yet again
Though I discovered on Nexis that skel was used in addition to
skell , if less frequently, I never went back to our old citation
file to check it out. (This is is the sort of sloppiness I criticize
other people for.) The following turned up:
"...'skels,' as the cops call big-city bums, come over from the
Bowery to roost and doze."
Thomas Conway, Headquarters Detective , Dunellen, N.J.
11 (8) Jan. 1955, p. 40
Headquarters Detective was a pulp crime magazine--I should say is:
amazingly, it's still published, up to, if I recall correctly, vol.
57, according to Library of Congress records. Someone--an outside
contributor, I think, though I would have to ask Gil--read pulp crime
magazines systematically in the 1950's and Merriam files owe much of
what he slang material of the period to this person. The handwritten
citation slip is actually dated October 27, 1954.
If skel(l) was current enough to get into 1950's crime fiction, I
don't even want to guess how old the word actually is.