OK, I have completed, proofed, polished, and sent off Vol. 2 of How the West Was Written. (For more about Vol. 1 and how to get your copy—published by Beat to a Pulp Press and at a hard to beat price—click on the book cover in the left sidebar.)
Time to move on to the next project, a glossary of frontier fiction, which covers the same years, 1880–1915. As I read more from this period, I continue to add words, phrases, and their definitions. Here is the current crop from recent reading:
Bill = reference to a Wild West show, as in Bill-show, Bill-show cowboy, Bill-horse. “You she’d have seen Rusty Mikel, Miss, the time his Bill-hoss turned a flip-flop onto him.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
charro = a Mexican horseman or cowboy, typically one wearing an elaborate outfit, often with silver decorations, of tight trousers, ruffled shirt, short jacket, and sombrero. “In their motley uniforms, regulation khaki or linen alternating with tight charro suits and peon cottons, they were exceedingly picturesque.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
chemisette = a woman's garment of linen, lace, or the like, worn, toward the end of the Victorian era, over a low-cut or open bodice to cover the neck and breast. “Under pretense of admiring the hand-made lace edging on the girl’s chemisette, she managed another peep and saw the leather worked with Gordon’s monogram in gold.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
calzones = breeches, pants. “It appears that he had only has dirty cotton calzones to be buried in, so his wife begged a worn white suit from Mr. Benson.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
copa = cup. “But for you I’d be taking my copa right now out of the cook’s keg instead of dying of thirst in this lousy desert.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
fonda = inn, tavern. “In the barranca we shall find a fonda with liquors and a girl, none prettier in all Chihuahua.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
mill tail = the current of water running in a channel and turning a mill wheel. “While I go after ’em, you ride like the mill tails o’ hell an’ bring out Bull and Jake.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
mogul = a steam locomotive with three pairs of driving wheels and one pair of smaller wheels in the front. “She climbed up and sat beside him while the mogul rolled and racked and plunged forward through the night.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
mozo = a male servant, attendant (from Spanish). “A mozo rode in one day, with a package from Ramon.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
pedro = a trick-taking card game, popular as a gambling game until the end of the 19th century. “They took their ease one hot nooning, two playing pedro at a rough wooden table while the third dozed and nodded with stool tilted back against the adobe wall.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
rag and bobtail = common, ordinary people. “So they are going to join the rag and bobtail in the wake of the revolution.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
roundabout = a short jacket. “His dress seemed an acknowledgment of his grotesqueness: a short coat, like a little boy’s roundabout, and a vest fantastically sprigged and dotted, over a lavender shirt.” Willa Cather, The Song of the Lark.
shoo-fly = a temporary railway track constructed for use while the main track is obstructed or under repair. “The train plunged down and out of the first ‘shoo-fly’ around a burned bridge.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
wigging = a reprimand, a severe rebuke. “Someone will get a wigging for this.” Herman Whitaker, Over the Border.
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons
Coming up: Judy Alter and A. T. Row, eds., Unbridled Spirits: Short Fiction about Women in the Old West