An anonymous correspondent says: Hi! Is there anyone out there who can explain the origin...of 23 skidoo.....i"d sure like to know as i believe i'll have a use for it!!
(Answer also sought by Ben Klima and Temple)
dave bushnell: Evidently, "23" was telegraph shorthand for bad news. Where that comes from is probably debatable. One book that I have, "Why Do We Say It?" by Castle Publishing, claims that its usage spread among theatrical people from the play "The Only Way" by Henry Miller. The play was an adaptation of "Tale of Two Cities," and when Sidney Carton is beheaded an old woman who is counting heads says simply, "23." "Skidoo" was added by cartoonist T.A. Dorgan, as a fanciful nonsense word, perhaps related to "skedaddle."My gut tells me this explanation is highly conjectural.
Hal: : Sorry, this is just a guess: I thought I remembered hearing that it started with a baseball game that went 23 innings. Maybe early days of Gaylord "Spitball" Perry?
Andy: When I lived in New York, I heard this explanation (though it may be an Urban Myth):
The "Flat Iron Building" which is long and thin and triangularly wedge shaped, is on lower Broadway at 23rd St. Its distinctive shape causes some violently swirling winds which would tend to blow women's skirts up. The local men knew this and would loiter about at lunch hour for the free 'show'. The cops would then have to engage in enforcing the "23 Skidoo" - chasing the would be oglers from 23rd Street. I don't know if it's true, but it's a very New York story.
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