Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More Fun than a Box(?) of Monkeys - A Barrel of Monkeys Update

More Fun than a Box(?) of Monkeys

In about 1880, two idioms emerged that established containers of monkeys as the gold-standard of hilarity.   The more familiar of the two idioms, “more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” is still well-known today.  In an earlier post, I showed that “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” first appeared in print at least in 1881, and perhaps used as early as 1877.  The phrase seems to have been based, at least in part, on several earlier associations of monkey with fun, being funny, barrel organs, and barrels.  My earlier post, however, missed what may have been an additional, perhaps bigger influence on the origins of the phrase. 

The phrase, “more fun than a box of monkeys” (or words to that effect), appeared in print at about the same time that the more familiar “barrel of monkeys” phrase appeared.  The origins of the term, “a box of monkeys,” as a standard for measuring humor, is more straight-forward and literal than for “a barrel of monkeys.”  Monkeys, it turns out, were shipped, stored and displayed in “boxes.”  Since monkeys were funny on their own, a box of monkeys was particularly hilarious.

Early References

The earliest reference I found for a “box of monkeys” as an idiom representing a large amount of humor is from early 1881, before the earliest-know printed references to “more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” although after the purported earliest use of that phrase in 1877.  The earliest reference is also presented in a round-about, verbose manner, which could reflect an archaic writing style, or a playful reworking of an already well-established idiom:

If Senator Mahone is a person of flirtatious tendencies, he can be safely reckoned upon as having more amusement at the present writing, than a box of monkeys.

The Emporia (Kansas) News, March 18, 1881.  

A use of the phrase a few years later, in a piece about an upcoming, local baseball game, suggests that it was thought to still be youthful slang:

[I]n fact, to use the expression of the boys, “there will be more fun than a box of monkeys can raise.”

Fort Worth (Texas) Gazette, September 11, 1884.  

In 1885, another newspaper used the phrase in association with a more serious event:

Mr. Pritchard formerly resided in Sedalia where he was much respected.  The Bazoo joins his many friends here in wishing him more fun than a box of monkeys in his new relation.”

The Sedalia (Missouri) Weekly Bazoo, February 24, 1885.

Boxes of Monkeys

Whereas “a barrel of monkeys” may have been influenced by various extraneous factors, such as barrel organs, the nautical phrase, “sucking the monkey” (drinking alcohol straight from the barrel), and a famous monkey who performed on a barrel, the phrase, “a box of monkeys” appears to literally originate from actual boxes of monkeys.   Numerous references attest to the use of monkeys being shipped, stored and displayed in “boxes”:

From an 1868 article about a fire in a building used to house circus animals:

In this building lions, tigers, monkeys, and other animals were kept in cages or boxes which had been constructed for temporary use.

The Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), November 16, 1868.

In an article about GeorgeFrancis Train (Independent candidate for President in 1872):

One of his ships, when he was in the shipping business, brought a box of monkeys from Peru, up the Amazon river, to London.

Memphis (Tennessee) Daily Appeal, April 6, 1871.

A newspaper report on a circus in Dallas, Texas refers to a “box of monkeys”:

Passing along, we found a tiger snugly ensconced in the cage of the tapir.  We concluded that the tapir was out visiting.  Three little baby camels were the center of attraction, and altogether the menagerie was good, our old friend, the mandrill, attracting much attention, together with the box of monkeys.

The Dallas (Texas) Daily Herald, April 6, 1871.

The sideshow at the Omaha Fair of 1885 displayed a box of monkeys:

“The Battle of Gettysburg,” a staggering daub at the famous Chicago painting, to which is added the zoological attractions of a few boxes of monkey and parrots, is the great and only side-show affair on the grounds.

The Omaha (Nebraska) Daily Bee, September 10, 1885. 

P. T. Barnum’s circus purportedly included a “box of monkeys”:

There is so much to be learned at the garden that the opinion is spreading that the principals of private schools are teaching the young ideas how to shoot under the benign influence of Jumbo and a box of monkeys.

The Sporting and Theatrical Journal, August 30, 1884, 251 (transcribed and posted on circushistory.org).

A box of monkeys was reportedly sent to the Norris & Rowe circus in 1906:

A box of monkeys arrived at the depot, from a well known wild animal dealer in Chicago Tuesday, billed to the Norris & Rowe circus. There were six of the little animals in the box and during their stay here excited considerable interest. They were forwarded Wednesday to the circus. 

The Little Falls Daily Transcript, August 8, 1906 (transcribed and posted on morrisoncountyhistory.org)

Boxes and Cages

The references cited above, which suggest that monkeys were displayed in “boxes,” use the word “box” in a way that might sound odd to the modern ear.  To my ear, at least, a “box” suggests solid, likely opaque sides, whereas a cage would suggest slats or bars with openings for viewing.  The use of “box” and “cage,” however, seems to have been interchangeable, or at least ambiguous, at least into the early parts of the twentieth century.  Several old sources also use the term, “box cage,” suggesting that there were “boxes” with the characteristics of cages.

“Boxes,” “cages,” and “box cages” seem to have been interchangeable, or at least ambiguous, when used in association with monkeys and other animals.  The following excerpts are a small sampling of the available sources that show the use of box, cage and box cage in relation to monkeys:

Around the room, in boxes and chained to the floor, were beavers, antelopes, monkeys and other animals.

The Grange Advance (Red Wing, Minnesota) August 5, 1874;

“There is no box,” said Bill, “except the monkey cage.”

The Indiana State Sentinel, November 24, 1880.

An article from 1895, about the history of circus elephants in the United States, suggests that monkeys had been displayed in "boxes" from as early as 1833: 

The same proprietors then imported a second elephant, which they also called Old Bet, and they enlarged their exhibition by adding to the collection a lion and a two horse cage and one monkey in a box strapped on to the hind end of the lion’s cage.  The second Old Bet landed in 1833.

The Worthington Advance (Worthington, Minnesota) November 21, 1895.

Monkey cages were still referred to as "boxes" in the early twentieth century:

The problem which Mr Haggerty is trying to solve is whether monkeys are imitators, or whether they find out things by themselves. The conclusions of the various investigators who have already delved into the question are at variance in the matter, and the Harvard man's summer with a roomful of simians, it is not unlikely, may shed important light on the knotty psychological puzzle.  Occupying the center of the stage in Mr. Haggerty's rather restricted laboratory is a large box, or cage, about seven feet high and three feet wide, made of pine boards, except for the front and one side, across which is stretched wire mesh. This the student of the simian intellect describes as his "trick" or "problem box."

The Appeal (St. Paul, Minnesota) September 5, 1908;

The Monkey Got Away. Ainsworth News: last Friday night after the performance here in the tent of Bonheur Bros.’ shows one of the two captive monkeys which they kept in a box cage, got out and escaped to the Chilvers’ ash grove west of town . . . .

The Norfolk Weekly News-Journal (Norfolk, Nebraska) July 15, 1910.

Billy Whiskers letting loose that box of monkeys

From Billy Whiskers at the Circus (1908)


A Box of Monkeys

Grace L. Furniss
In 1889, heiress and playwright, Grace Livingston Furniss published her first play, A Box of Monkeys, in the December 21 issue of Harper’s Bazar.  The humor of her play revolved around a rustic, western-raised American woman teaching American slang and behavior to an upper-crust, “titled” English Lady.  The phrase, “more fun than a box of monkeys,” is used several times during the course of the play.  The choice of the title, in a play about American slang and manners, reflects the belief that the phrase was an Americanism; as was “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” [(see my earlier post)]. 

Relative Popularity Over Time

In a completely unscientific, but perhaps only possible, readily accessible test to compare the relative frequency of use of the two phrases, I searched for the complete phrases, “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and “more fun than a box of monkeys,” in the Library of Congress’ online database of historical newspapers, with the following results:

Date Range
. . . barrel of monkeys
. . . box of monkeys
2 (in the same newspaper)
(*I adjusted some of the results downward, to account for multiple occurrences
of the same advertisements in multiple sources and on multiple dates.)

I measured the early days of use from 1836 through 1888, the year before the publication of “A Box of Monkeys.”  In the early days, both phrases appeared only a few times.  From 1889 through 1904, “box of monkeys” seems to have dominated, perhaps buoyed by the popularity of the play, A Box of Monkeys.  In 1902, newspaper articles on the occasion of the opening of a new play by Grace Livingston Furniss described A Box of Monkeys as, “the old standby of the amateurs,” that had achieved “success in amateur circles far and wide . . . .” The Witchita Daily Eagle, October 27, 1902; New York Tribune, December 7, 1902.  From 1905 through 1922, the relative frequency of the two phrases seems to have been nearly identical.

After 1922, the phrase “more fun than a box of monkeys” seems to have faded into oblivion.  In a search of an online, digital library, I found only six publications that used the phrase after 1922; one book and four periodicals from before 1940, and a collection of North Carolina folklore which was published in 1952 but based on folklore collected from 1912 to 1943.  A similar search for “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” resulted in hits in numerous publications, fiction, non-fiction and periodicals, throughout every decade from the 1920s and into the 1960s and beyond.


 Today, “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” continues to dominate its poor cousin.  I certainly don’t remember ever having heard “more fun than a box of monkeys” until researching the origins of “more fun than a barrel of monkeys”; and then, I first assumed that it was merely an occasional corruption of the original.  Given the similar date of the first appearance of both phrases, it is difficult if not impossible, at this time, to figure out whether one or the other was first.

It is certainly plausible that, “box of monkeys,” preceded “barrel of monkeys.”  It could have been literally said that a box of monkeys was funny.  The more fanciful, “barrel of monkeys,” could then have emerged for all of the reasons given in my earlier posting; namely the multiple associations of monkeys with barrels, the already established phrase, "a barrel of fun," and the more humorous imagery.  The survival of the more fanciful phrase might be credited to its simply being funnier.

“More fun than a box of monkeys” might get the point across in a pedantic, literal manner; but “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” is simply more fun than “more fun than a box of monkeys.”  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jim Thorpe Punts, Catches and Scores Touchdown on the Same Play - Myth or Legend?

 Did Jim Thorpe Really Catch His Own Fifty-Yard Punt in Mid-Air and Run it in for a Touchdown?

The Myth

On October 21, 1911, Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indians football team defeated the University of Pittsburg 17-0, ending Pitt’s streak of eleven straight shutout wins.  But as remarkable as the eleven-game shutout streak was, and the fact that Carlisle ended the streak with a shutout of their own, the game is remembered today for one of the most incredible, super-human, mythical feats ever performed on a football field.  Jim Thorpe, legend has it, punted the ball fifty yards, ran down the field, caught his own punt in mid-air and scored a touchdown.

Packers.com sportswriter, Vic Ketchman, wrote that Jim Thorpe would have had to be either Ray Guy (the only punter to be elected to the Hall of Fame) or Hall-of-Fame receiver (and two-time Olympic gold medalist and 100m sprinter) Bob Hayes to have caught his own punt.  Jim Thorpe was both.  But he did not catch his own punt in mid-air for a touchdown.  Although he probably had the physical skills necessary to perform the feat – the rules did not permit it.

Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe is widely considered one of the greatest athletes ever.   In 1999, the Associated Press placed him third, behind Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth, in their list of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.  He was a collegiate football and track standout at the Carlisle Indian School, professional football and baseball star, and won two gold medals at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm Sweden.

Jim Thorpe’s performance at the 1912 Olympics exemplifies his athletic dominance.  He narrowly missed a medal in the high jump, finishing fourth, and won gold in the pentathlon and the decathlon.  His score of 8412 points in the decathlon (contested over three days, as opposed to the now-traditional two-day format) stood as the world record for twenty years and would have edged out Guido Kratschmer’s 8411 points for the silver in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, behind Bruce Jenner’s world record-setting performance.  It would have won gold in every Olympics, but one, until 1972.  It would have medaled in every Olympics, but one, until 1996.  It would have placed a respectable sixth place at the London Olympics in 2012.

[Note: These last comments may be over-stated.  The decathlon scoring tables have apparently been changed since 1912 (see comments section).  But I still like to imagine Jim Thorpe mixing it up with Bruce Jenner in '76 or Dan and Dave in '92.] 

Jim Thorpe was one of the first big-name college players to play professional football and was named the first President of the NFL.  In baseball, his career major-league batting average of .256 is better than multi-sport phenom Bo Jackson’s career .250 batting average (although, in fairness, Bo had better on-base and slugging percentages).

A world-class sprinter (11.2-second 100m time in the 1912 Olympic decathlon) with a strong leg (he could drop-kick field goals from fifty yards out), Jim Thorpe had the physical skills to catch his own 50-yard punt for a touchdown.

The Carlisle-Pitt Game of 1911:

University of Pittsburgh - 1910
The Pitt-Carlisle game of 1911 was a showdown of two Eastern powerhouses.  The University of Pittsburgh, standing at 2-0, was riding an 11-game winning streak in which they had outscored their opponents by a total of 286-0.   Carlisle came into the game with a record of 5-0 on the season; outscoring their opponents 156-10 over that span.

The teams were no strangers.  Two years earlier, Pittsburg surprised Carlisle with a 14-3 win on a muddy field that neutralized Carlisle's speed advantage.  In 1911, Carlisle was out for revenge.  The field conditions were more favorable for the fast Carlisle team; although wet, the field is said to have been “fine and hard.” 

Carlisle won the rematch, 17-0, on the strength of three touchdowns and two extra points; touchdowns were still worth five points (they were increased to six points for the 1912 season).   According to the New York Sun

Carlisle - 1911
The game was the most bitterly fought in local gridiron history.  Thorpe was the shining star for Carlisle and tore around the ends and through the line for big gains.  Two of [Carlisle’s] touchdowns resulted from recovered onside kicks ([(punts)], which the Indians worked to perfection.

Thorpe scored one of those touchdowns after his own punt.  But contemporary accounts of the game differ in some of the details, leaving ambiguities in the story.  The headline from the Washington (DC) Herald read:

Thorpe is Hero of Battle, Recovering Own Kick and Runs Fifty Yards
– Redskins Play Open Game

The Times Dispatch of Pittsburgh reported:

Carlisle’s first two touchdowns were scored on record kicks, Thorpe grabbing one for a fifty-yard gain after booting the ball himself.

The Washington (DC) Times said:

Once, after booting the ball fifty yards, Thorpe recovered it himself. 

But although these various descriptions differ in some details, taken together, the various accounts all agree that Thorpe kicked the ball fifty yards, ran fifty yards, recovered the ball and scored a touchdown. 

But did he catch the ball in mid-air?  No, the rules would not have permitted it.

State of the Rules in 1911

In 1911, as it is today, the game of football was in the process of adapting to dramatic rules changes intended to reduce injury.  Whereas today’s focus is on the long-term effect of concussions, the focus in the early 1900s was reducing the long-term effects of death.

Forty-five people reportedly died from football injuries from 1901 to 1905 - that’s nine deaths a year!  The causes of those deaths, all directly related to injuries sustained while playing football, included internal injuries, broken necks, concussions, broken backs, paralysis, heart failure, lockjaw, blood-poisoning, hemorrhage, and spinal meningitis.[i]  One particularly gruesome day in New York City prompted a number of universities to petition for rules changes.  On Saturday, November 25, 1905, a Union College player died in a game with NYU[ii], and a Columbia player was nearly killed in its season finale against Penn.[iii]  The subsequent pressure, and the personal intervention of President Teddy Roosevelt (who had previously called for change[iv]), helped bring about major rules changes for the 1906 season. 

The biggest rule change for 1906 was the addition of the forward pass.  The ability to throw the ball down the field was expected to open up the game and reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by mass pile-ups at the line of scrimmage.  Other rules changes included prohibiting blockers from interlocking arms, making it illegal to hurdle the line, requiring guards and tackles to line up on the line of scrimmage, and increasing the yardage needed for a first down (in only three plays, not four) from five yards to ten.[v]

In addition to the forward pass, the new rules for 1906 also included what amounted to a forward kick; the onside punt.  Just as you could only throw the ball to teammates behind you before 1906, you could also only kick the ball to teammates behind you before 1906.  Teammates behind the ball-carrier were said to be “on-side,” a concept similar to onside and offside in modern-day soccer and hockey.   

The 1906 rules created exceptions to the old-style on-side rule, which put certain players in front of the ball-carrier “on-side” for the purpose of forward passes and punts.  Vestiges of this rule still remain in today’s kickoff rules; players on the kick-off team are “onside” after the ball has travelled ten yards, and may legally take possession of the ball. 

When Jim Thorpe and Carlisle played the University of Pittsburgh in 1911, the on-side punt rule permitted players on the kicking team to recover the punt after it touched an opposing player or touched the ground at least twenty yards past the line of scrimmage.[vi]  In other words, Jim Thorpe could not have legally caught the ball in mid-air to score a touchdown, unless it had first touched an opposing player or the ground; but that doesn’t make such a colorful story.  

What Really Happened?

The record does not reflect whether Thorpe’s punt was an early-down, surprise “quick-kick” or a third-down punt.  With only three downs to make a first down (it was changed to four downs for the 1912 season), quick-kicks were a more important part of the game.  Quick-kicks were more effective under 1911 rules, because defenses did not play as deep as modern defenses because forward passes were limited to twenty yards or less.   

It seems likely that Thorpe’s self-caught, touchdown punt was an early-down quick-kick; if the defense had expected a punt, it would have had a receiver in position to make a fair catch (fair catches were permitted under 1911 rules).  If the punt had enough hang time for Thorpe to cover his own kick, it seems likely that a receiver in position would have had time to call for and make the fair catch.  A booming kick over the top of and past an unprepared defense playing closer to the line would have resulted in a chase for and scramble for the ball; precisely the kind of play envisioned by the rules-makers in 1906 who were trying to open up the game.   

Thorpe’s world-class sprinter’s speed came in handy on that day, resulting in the legendary (although not quite so mythical) touchdown.  Although we do not know exactly what happened on that play, he could not have caught his own punt out of mid-air, except on the rebound. 

[i] The Evening Statesman (Walla Walla, Washington), October 18, 1905.
[ii] Los Angeles Herald, November 26, 1905.
[iii] New York Tribune, December 2, 1905.
[iv] Rock Island Argus (Rock Island, Illinois), October 27, 1905.
[v] Walter Camp, Spalding’s Official Football Guide (1906), pages 93-96.
[vi] Walter Camp, Spalding’s Official Football Guide (1911), page 113 (Rule XX, Section 4).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Hour Update - the History of "Happy Hour" on the U.S.S. Arkansas

Happy Hour Update - the U.S.S. Arkansas, 

"Home Makers," Women's Clubs and President Taft

In an earlier post, The History and Etymology of "Happy Hour", I traced the history of "Happy Hour" back to the U.S.S. Arkansas and its involvement in the Tampico Affair during the Mexican Revolution in 1914.  The fact that several references reported separately about "Happy Hour" on the Arkansas, and not on any other ship, suggests that the event or the name of the event, was novel and unique to the Arkansas.  I concede, however, that it left open the possibility that "Happy Hour" might have been more widespread.  Those early reports could have mentioned the Arkansas because it was the flagship, which would have attracted more attention or provided more access to journalists.

This update examines new evidence that clarifies that the "Happy Hour" tradition in the navy most likely did originate on the U.S.S. Arkansas in early 1913, and that the name came from a group of sailors called the “Happy Hour Social.”  It is also possible, although not certain, that President Taft may have experienced one of the first "Happy Hours" on the U.S.S. Arkansas during his trip to Panama to observe construction of the Panama Canal.  Is it also possible that President Taft inspired the name?

The Origins of Happy Hour on the U.S.S. Arkansas

The first reference to “Happy Hour” on the U.S.S. Arkansas appears in a letter, published in early 1913 in Our Navy, the Standard Magazine of the United States Navy, outlining recent news from the ship:

I must not forget to tell you about our semi-weekly smokers.  These smokers are given by the “Happy Hour Social,” an organization of “home makers” we have on board.  

Our Navy, Volume 6, Number 11 (March, 1913), page 12. 

The same letter reported on President Taft’s stay on the Arkansas:

[T]he President said that . . . his trip on the Arkansas would be one of the most pleasant remembrances he would take with him into civil life; that he had knowledge of the ship being a sporting ship and a happy ship; that he knew that she was a crack ship, and that he hoped in the near future she would fly the flag of the Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet.

Id.  The news from the Arkansas published two months earlier, in the January, 1913 issue of Our Navy, also mentions smokers, but without using the term, “Happy Hour.”

The vessel is going to give a Smoker to the Fleet at Guantanamo.  Other ships sit up and notice.  Remember the saying “Wisdom from infants.” We will be the infant of the Fleet.  We have something up our sleeves.

Our Navy, Volume 6, Number 9 (January, 1913) page 23.  The letter is undated, but seems to have been written early in December, before Taft’s trip to Panama was planned, as there is no mention of it in the letter.  Taken together, the letters suggest that the “Happy Hour Social” group, and their twice-weekly smokers, were new to the ship sometime between December 1912 and March 1913.

By June of 1913, the crew of the Arkansas referred to their twice-weekly smokers as “Happy Hour:”

U.S.S. Arkansas. Hampton Roads, Va., June 13, 1913. The Editor, OUR NAVY. We are going to have a “Happy Hour” on board tomorrow night and expect to entertain the crew of the Minas Geraes [(a Brazilian warship that the Arkansas was to escort to New York City)].  There will be some good bouts, movies, etc., and if the Brazilians do not enjoy themselves it won’t be our fault.

Our Navy, Volume 7, Number 3 (July 1913), page 21.  
Beginning in 1915, numerous reports of “Happy Hours” held on ships and at commands, other than the Arkansas, start popping up in the pages of Our Navy.  By early 1918, the entire  Atlantic Fleet was holding weekly “Happy Hours:”

Then next comes the popular “Happy Hour” programs which each ship stages once a week.  These “Happy Hour” programs are what is known to civilian life as a “Smoker” or “Stag” and are held on the Quarter-deck, the music is furnished by the band better known to the sailor as the ship’s “Boiler-makers.”  In the early evening the spacious deck is a modern day dancing academy but which later proves to be the arena while the big gun turrets serve as grandstands.  Several very good boxing exhibitions are put on and sometimes a champion match, at which time maybe a grudge is settled.  Cigars, cigarettes, and programs are distributed, and after the “bouts” maybe one will find ice cream and cakes.  The evening winds up with “movies” and between reels the howls for “Bando!” will ring your ears.”

Our Navy, Volume 12, Number 8 (December 1918), page 66. 

“Happy Hour” was here to stay.

Earlier Uses of “Happy Hour”

The U.S.S. Arkansas originated the use of the term, “Happy Hour,” which would eventually influence the spread of “happy hour” into civilian pop-culture.  However, the name of the group that organized the Arkansas' happy-hour smokers, “Happy Hour Social,” did not originate on the ship.  The name appears to have been drawn from a long-standing, common name for social clubs, usually women’s social clubs.  

The name “Happy Hour Club,” or some variation thereof, goes back to at least the 1880s.  Reports of meetings of such clubs show a variety of activities from sewing and quilting, to temperance lectures and educational seminars, to dining, dancing, games, music, drama and travel.  Clubs with “happy hour” in their name were located in all areas of the country, including, by way of example (there are hundreds of references to such clubs), “Happy Hour Clubs” in Kansas (1882), Nebraska (1890), Missouri (1901), New York (1903), and Utah (1907), the “Happy Hour Social Club” in Montana (1894), the “Happy Hour Dancing club” in California (1896), the “Happy Hour Euchre club” in Minnesota (1900), the “Happy Hour Social Circle” in Indiana (1902), and the “Happy Hour Society” in Virginia (1906). 

The name seems originally to have been intended to reflect the hope that when they meet, that they will spend a few happy hours together, and not the expectation of being happy by way of alcohol.  Of course, who knows what really happened at those meetings; I only have access to published reports.  The connotation of happy, as in tipsy or inebriated would only come later.

President Taft

President Taft boarding the Arkansas; New York, Oct. 1912
But the question remains, did President Taft experience one of the first-ever “Happy Hours?”  He is known to have ridden the Arkansas for nearly a week, from Key West to Colon, Panama and back during Christmastime, 1912.  He could easily have been present for one of the “Happy Hour Social’s” twice-weekly smokers (he would have missed the “Smoker to the Fleet” because he debarked in Key West before the ship sailed for Cuba). 

It is unclear, however, whether the “Happy Hour Social” club had formed by that time, and if so, whether they had already begun their tradition of holding twice-weekly smokers. But Taft did, reportedly, refer to the Arkansas as a “happy ship.”  Might his words have inspired the crew to use “happy” in the name? Hmmm????  It is at least interesting to see that Taft, the reputed (disputed) progenitor of the seventh-inning stretch, may have been associated with the early history of another long-lasting pop-cultural institution – the Happy Hour.


What we do know for sure, however, is that the term “Happy Hour” originated with the U.S.S. Arkansas in about, early 1913, spread throughout the Navy between 1915 and 1920, continued in use within the military into the 1950s, was adopted for civilian use on a small scale in the early 1950s, and would eventually make the leap into general use sometime after it was mentioned in an article in the Saturday Evening Post, April 25, 1959.