For some time now, some of my on-line friends have advised me to provide a version of CassidySlangScam without the invective aimed at Cassidy and his supporters. In response to that advice, I am working on providing a glossary of the terms in Cassidy’s ludicrous book How The Irish Invented Slang with a short, simple and business-like explanation of why Cassidy’s version is wrong.
Daniel Cassidy, in his etymological hoax, claimed that Slab Town, an old nickname for Chicago, was so called because it was situated on muddy ground, which in Ireland would be known as slobland, deriving from Irish slab.
This is one clear case where Cassidy misrepresented his sources. Herbert Asbury, in Gangs of Chicago, says that Chicago was known as Slab Town because of a unique method of construction whereby blocks and sheathboards were laid down in a kind of prefabrication technique. These were the slabs:
“… blocks were laid down singly or in cob-house fashion. On these foundations were laid, and to these were spiked, standing on end, 3×4 scantling. On these sheathboards were nailed, and weatherboards on the outside of them; and lath and plaster inside with the roof completed the store or dwelling.”
It was because of this unique system of building that Chicago received the nickname of Slab Town, by which it was generally known throughout the country except when it was being ridiculed as the Mud Hole of the Prairies.”
Cassidy merely quotes the second part of this:
“It was because of this unique system of building that Chicago received the nickname of Slab Town, by which it was generally known throughout the country except when it was being ridiculed as the Mud Hole of the Prairies.”
This enables him to maintain the pretence that it was known as Slab Town because it was located in a muddy place, even though he presumably read the piece in Asbury’s book and knew what the real origin was as described there.