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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Celtaddict Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn) (48) RE: Origins: What a Jimmy-john is? (from Green Corn) 10 Jan 10


I vividly remember Shrimp Boats and Gandy Dancer's Ball but did not know about the Disney origin. As soon as I saw the thread title I thought of Gandy Dancer's.
And by the way, the song almost tells what a gandy dancer is. He is a railroad tracklayer. There are a couple of explanations for the term's origin. A 'gandy' was apparently a term for a shovel or similar tool used in shifting the rocky base that supported track and tie. Some have said there was a tool company called 'Gandy' but there is evidently no record of such a company. If a shovel or similar tool was introduced into the rocky area, it required the worker to jump on the handle to shift it, hence gandy-dancing which is more euphonius than 'shovel jumping.' It has also been said that the row of men working in unison carrying track down would walk wide-legged with the track between, appearing to waddle like a gander, moving rhythmically in unison, or gander-dancing-> gandy-dancing. I thought 'gandy' might derive from an Irish word for shovel, pick, mattock, or digging, but have not found such a word. So, when there are several etymologies, it is a longer but more interesting way of saying, who knows?


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