Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

...A Hunkey Boy is Yankee Doodle, sung with Immense Success by Bryant's Minstrels.

 

Pub. 1861, also found in the first 1865 Frank Converse tutor.  Good tune.  

 

I assume the "Dow" is pronounced Dow as in Leave It To Beaver actor Tony's last name, or is Dow as in a female deer? I'm not sure how to say it, and I have no idea what it means.  Is it nonsense?

 

And what is a "hunkey boy?" Does it refer to a certain European ancestry?  I'm guessing central Europe, Czech or something?  Or maybe I'm way off base.

 

Inquiringly,

 

Carl

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I'm pretty sure Whack Row De Dow is old Irish for "Doo Dah Doo Dah"

After making my last smart-ass comment I actually started thinking about the other old songs "row-de-dow" appears in and realized they were all about drummers in which the phase imitates the sound of the drum.

i.e. "With a Row De Dow Dow" from How Happy The Soldier and  "Whack Row de Dow" from The Soldier and The Cook. Does this make sense for the hunkey boy?



Ian, old boy, I think you've figured it out.  Thank you.  It will help as I'm singing it to know the words are meant to represent a drum.  Now to figure out what a 'hunkey boy' is.

According to a several places I've looked even in those days "hunkey" meant fit or masculine - perhaps without the sexual connotations it generally has now.

Hunkies come from Hungary, or other east European countries (see Micks, Pollacks, Limeys, etc). Don't forget the genre of music we are dealing with here! In that phrase,  "row" and "dow" rhyme with cow. Dave Culgan.

The term "hunkey dorey" is usually associated with "Japanese Tommy" (Thomas Dilward), an African American dwarf and minstrel performer in the 1860s.  As early as the 1870s, writers were speculating on the origin and meaning of "hunkey dorey" (and "hunkey") without a conclusive answer.   Google "hunkey dorey" and lots of stuff will come up.

 

Bob

My friend Hank Trent thinks that "hunkey" in this case means "a-ok" or  "just right."  The same thing as "hunkey-dorey" which was a phrase just coming into use in the early 1860's.

Sir: One meaning of "Hunkie Boy" is a refrence to the young boys who worked in coal mines in the early days loading coal cars. They were called hunkies and hunky boys because they heaved hunks of coal into the cars by hand . There were men of course loading them with a shovel but these boys were general helpers in the mines and they assisted in the loading. I learned this while workin in a mine myself in colorado in rhe 70's

 

R H Hanes

Carl Anderton said:

Ian, old boy, I think you've figured it out.  Thank you.  It will help as I'm singing it to know the words are meant to represent a drum.  Now to figure out what a 'hunkey boy' is.

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