Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You're The Cat's Pajamas : A History

When I was planning to post this image, I realized I honestly didn't know the etymology of the phrase, the cat's pajamas, though I'd heard it -- and used it -- my whole life. Yes, it makes me sound like a grandpa, what of it? Anyway, I looked it up and stumbled across a fascinating story.

Apparently, the phrase was coined by Thomas A. Dorgan, an American cartoonist popular in the 1920s. He was known for a few different comic strips and panel gags, but his true legacy may be the words and expressions he created or popularized through those strips -- things like dumbell (for a dope), for crying out loud, cat's meow, cat's pajamas, hard-boiled (describing a tough guy) and, yes, even twenty-three skidoo. Whatever that means. This guy's lexicon is half my vocabulary and, until I took the time to look up this one phrase, I was really only aware of him peripherally for his illustration work.

About that: Notably, TAD (as he signed his cartoons) lost three fingers on his right hand at the age of 13 in a factory accident (kids had it tough in the late 1800s) and took up drawing as therapy. A year later, at 14, he joined the art staff of the San Francisco Bulletin. Fourteen, for cryin' out loud!

While you peruse my work-in-progress steps below, I'm going to start working on some new slang phrases to popularize. I was thinking twenty-four skidoo. Eh? Eh? -v

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