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Curling is "Bass Ball," or "Goal," or "Hook-em-Snivy," on the Ice?

Salience Noteworthy
Location US South
Game Oddball

In response to an article from the Alabama Reporter belittling the sport of curling, the Spirit of the Times writer attempts to describe curling to Southerners like this: "What is 'Curling,' eh? Why, did you ever play 'bass ball,' or 'goal,' or 'hook-em-snivy,' on the ice? Well, curling is not like either. In curling, sides are chosen; each player has a bat, one end of which is turned up, somewhat like a plough-handle, with which to knock a ball on ice without picking it up as in the game of foot-ball, which curling resembles." Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008. "



The Alabama Reporter, as reprinted in Spirit of the Times,  January 16, 1847, page 559. 


David Block explains, 2/27/2008: "Clearly, the writer had curling confused with ice hockey, which was itself an embryonic sport that the time." Or maybe he confused it with ice-hurling, which actually employs a ball. 

From Richard Hershberger, 12/8/09: "What makes this so interesting is that the response speaks of "bass ball" played on ice. This is a decade before such games were commonly reported, suggesting that the [later] practice by organized clubs was borrowed from older, informal play on ice."

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Could gentle readers please enlighten Protoball on the nature and fate of "hook-em-snivy," in AL or the South or elsewhere? I asked Mister Google about the word, and he rather less helpfully and rather more cryptically than usual, said this: "My Quaker grandmother, born in Maryland in 1823, used [the word] in my hearing when she was about seventy years old. She said that it was a barbarism in use among common people and that we must forget it.

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Submitted by David Block
Submission Note Email of 2/27/2008


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