Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 01:11:20 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: FUHGEDDABOUTIT?: the Bowery Boy and "Brooklynese"
"Fuhgeddaboutit" was the subject of a recent William Safire column and
an article in the monthly BROOKLYN BRIDGE. Before I left for vacation, David
Shulman briefly showed me his article on "Brooklynese" which will appear in
"Brooklynese," he wrote, is really the language of the Bowery. Shulman
traced it to Frances Chanfrau and the "Mose" stage character from the 1840s.
However, is this too early?
I can't recall if Shulman mentioned the name Edward Waterman Townsend in
his article. I revisited some Townsend stuff, and here it is.
Townsend's obituary is in the New York Times, 17 March 1942, pg. 21,
col. 3. "Edward Waterman Townsend, author of the Chimmie Fadden stories, the
Bowery dialect of which amused thousands of newspaper readers at the turn of
the century, died yesterday.... The first story proved so popular that it
was followed by others and Chimmie Fadden soon became a regular feature of
The Sun. Mr. Townsend later published the series in book form, selling more
than 200,000 copies. The material for most of the stories was gathered by
their author while he sat at one of the waterfront slips, pretending to read
a newspaper, but in reality listening to the jargon of the youngsters who
gathered there. The fame of the 'des, dose and dem' tales followed Mr.
Townsend into private life, and proved a minor form of embarrassment when he
entered political life as a candidate for Congress in New Jersey."
In a Times review of the Chimmie Fadden stories on 23 June 1895, pg.
27, col. 2, the paper stated that "Mr. Townsend's humor belongs to this
particular epoch, the early nineties of the nineteenth century. The Bowery
slang he reproduces with graphic art was unknown ten years ago and will be
archaic ten years hence. James Fadden of lower New York is a lad of the
Does so-called "Brooklynese" come from Mose or Chimmie?