Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Original Blowout


"You have often heard the expression 'We had a great blowout last night,' used in connection with a dance or some sort of amusement," said a gentleman yesterday. "Do you know the origin of the word 'blowout?' No? Well, I'll tell you of it. Away back in the thirties the cotton mills at Lowell, Mass., were furnished with operatives from the families of the farmers living about the town. The sons and daughters of the sturdy farmers held positions in the mills, and coming from such good old stock there was a sort of social spirit developed among the employees which is not found in factories in these days. From the factories of Lowell some prominent people have come. Helen Hunt Jackson was employed there at one time.

"The hours were long, and in winter time lamps had to be provided to give light to the workers. It was before the days of kerosene, or, as they used to pronounce it when it did come out, 'kerosen,' with the accent on the 'o.' Whale oil lamps were burned. They were lighted on Nov. 1 regularly every year, and their use was dispensed with on May 1. It was the operation on this latter date that originated the word 'blowout.' When the bell sounded on this day to quit work, all lamps were blown out simultaneously, not to be lighted again until November. This was called the 'blowout,' and after this a dance or supper would be given, which at first was called the 'blowout dance,' or 'blowout supper,' until finally any festivity attending the extinguishing of the lamps for the year was called 'the blowout.' So the word 'blowout' was originated." — Pittsburg Dispatch.

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