I'm experiencing some unfortunate blogger technical difficulties so my 'special New Years post' is not ready for viewing. So here's an evergreen from the pipeline:
I collect postcards sporadically. Most of my favorites are peculiar Christmas cards or those of the highly sentimental "pleasant thoughts for a dear friend" sort, the more sugary the better. Some people will buy only blank, unused cards. When I can I'd rather have the entire, completed journey: chosen, written, sent, postmarked, and, implicitly, saved. Some cards may not, on first view, be all that compelling visually, but reveal themselves on closer consideration. Many of the cards showcase abysmal grammar skills: "Best Wishes to yous all," "we are well. Hoping you and your husband is the same." That aside, reading the cards can pay off with some important (well, in a relative sense) tidbits. This Venice scene, postmarked August, 1906, is certainly pretty but hardly extraordinary. But the inscription at top caught my eye. It reads, in part, "... it is very hot at mid day but cool at night. The girls are "crazy about it" as they say..." "Crazy about it" was put in quotation marks. Significant because it indicates the phrase was new as an expression or was considered kids' slang, but yet it had to have been common enough that the author was confident that the reader would understand. Kind of like if I were to write my Aunt Helen saying, oh, 'the "bitches are down with it."' Obviously "bitches" (as a term of, uh, bonhomie) and "down with it" have been around for quite a while in Black slang, not as long in general slang. Still my Aunt Helen might get what I'm saying because the phrases have had currency long enough already for someone like me to write them. So when my American Slang Dictionary puts its citation for "crazy about it" at 1914, I just happen to know, from my 50¢ postcard, it must have been kicking around a fair bit earlier.