Put Me Off
gkane
Can anyone tell me what the origin of the phrase "Put me off" is? From what I can find, it originates with train travel. I heard (or read) a story (talk about dangerous phrases) that non Enlish speaking emmigrants to this country traveling to destinations by train, had signs that said "(Conductor), put me off at (name of city & state)" The phrase seems to have entered conversational English with two songs and a joke, all of which deal with train travel. The songs were popular in the 1894-1904 era and were "Put me off in Buffalo" and "Conductor, Don't put me off in Buffalo". The joke, from the same time period, was:
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A New York businessman boarded a train in Albany on his way to Buffalo. As it was a night train, he took a sleeper car and gave the porter strict instructions to waken him and put him off in Buffalo.

"I'm a very heavy sleeper," the businessman said, "and I may give you a hard time. But whatever you do, make sure to put me off in Buffalo... even if you have to put me off in my pajamas."

The next morning, the man woke up to find himself in Cleveland. He located the porter and chewed him out with some very abusive language. After the man left, a bystander asked the porter how he could stand there and take that verbal abuse.

"That weren't nothin'," the porter replied. "You should've heard the guy I put off in Buffalo."

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Did the song inspire the joke or vice versa? I've seen it with a couple of different cities, but usually with Buffalo.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a union veteran organization, similiar to the American Legion or VFW, but with membership limited to Northern civil war veterans, held its National Encampment in 1897 in Buffalo. A lot of the souvenirs of this event use the phrase "put me off" in Buffalo. This might have been inspired by the joke or the songs. I have a few other pieces from later encampments that also used this phrase.

The phrase now seems to have a different negative connotation than its original meaning. It now seems to mean "to turn against" or "to make someone dislike something".

Can you help me? I'm doing an article on GAR memorabilia with this phrase on it for a newsletter I edit. I tried using search engines, but I'm having little luck. Thanks

Lewis Joplin II
I haven't found anything yet.
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