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Boy!

Posted by Bob on April 25th, 2005 under History


Back in the 1950s, when our black and white TV was state of the art, all TV programs came from New York City. I remember that, in those shows, the man at the hotel desk would call for a bellhop by ringing a bell.

He would ring the bell and shout, “Boy!”

A young man or a middle aged man would quickly appear, dressed in a bell-hop’s uniform.

So we naturally assumed that was the way New Yorkers did it. In New York, a middle-aged man had no objection to being called “boy.” That’s what New York said, and there was no reason for me to disbelieve it.

I was then, as I am now, a provincial Southerner, a racist, a sexist, and my feet stink.

But never in my life have I ever seriously called a man a “boy.”

Well, I have said, “Boy” to good buddies of mine: “We’re both Southern boys.”

But the idea of seriously calling any man a boy was totally alien to me.

I was eventually informed that Southerners refer to black men as “boys.”

The South is a big place, and it must have happened somewhere. But in New York, calling a man “Boy” was the height of sophistication at a luxury hotel. They said so.

I must admit there was no racial discrimination involved, and I guess that was all that mattered.

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