Pointless Website Blog
Because I missed it, all right?
Sunday, September 11, 2005
You know, I'm rather interested in the study of the word "hoosier." But not really so much the word itself. If you've been spending any length of time in St. Louis, you should have realized by now that rather than a reference to Indianans, "hoosier" is local shorthand for "white trash" or "redneck." We all saw the RFT article ages ago, and word is that the word as we know it now has its origins in the 1800s or so. Apparently, there were particularly obnoxious, yokelesque salesmen that used to travel along the Mississippi River, including the area around our fair burg, that just so happened to be Indianans. Apparently, there were also pro-South Indianans that fought abolitionists here during the civil war, as well as a few Indianan scab workers that came here during a large 1930s strike in St. Louis. I'm guessing that this all gave the state's citizens an ill reputation around town here, and the term caught on most prodigiously. But I'm not interested in all that.

I'm interested in St. Louis' spinoff words of hoosier. I think they're just swell. To go down the list:
I first heard this one used by former well-liked Post-Dispatch columnist and current mystery writer Elaine Viets during a radio interview. It attempts to explain the phenomenon of those that have Ladue residence and wealth, but still maintain a worldview that can only be described as distinctly hoosier. Missourian singer-songwriter Jesse Irwin recently recorded a treatise on the topic.

A shortened form of (and only of) the adjective form of "hoosier," pronounced "hoozh."

Okay, I really like this one. "Bourgeois" has the connotation of an ignorant masses that contribute little to culture or the improvement of society. I don't know how much of that I'm willing to assert about St. Louis' hoosier population, but what can I say, we're all a little hoos. I also like the dichotomy of the word between its "hoos" and French portions. Seems very St. Louisan to me.

Do the math.

This is a pretty common word, which attempts to capture and explain the essence of that which is hoosier. As a more worldly alternative, I would like to offer the Spanish language-influenced "hoosuáje." If you have any better ideas of how one should spell that, please notify me.

Finally, I should note that I myself am of 1/4th Indianan background, and have a number of relatives over there, which obviously makes me instantly immune from criticism for using the word hoosier in a derogatory sense. And my apologies in general to Indiana for us having co-opted and bastardized your word so.

I might have told you this before, but I don't remember, so:

Larry told us that he learned from his aunt, who operated a restaurant in Forest Park Southeast in the 1950s, that this area used to be called HoosTown. Her initial explanation was that so many people here wondered who their daddy was, but later she said it was because there was a very high population of Hoosiers here. The now-demolished Tower Grove train station was the first station into the city from Downtown, so a lot of immigrants from the Ozarks would just get off here and start looking for housing. Larry's aunt remembers many of them walking straight into her restaurant on Racecourse Avenue after just having gotten off the train, and she says a lot of them would pour water into her catsup bottles.
Pour water into ketchup bottles? But why? I should note that one time at a Denny's, I saw an entire table of people dipping their fries directly into the table's ketchup bottle.

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