Mudcat Café message #2709455 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #115011   Message #2709455
Posted By: Amos
26-Aug-09 - 08:06 PM
Thread Name: FSGW 2008 Getaway Pix & videos
Subject: RE: FSGW 2008 Getaway Pix & videos
"What it means is easy enough. To be one's huckleberry usually as the phrase I'm your huckleberry is to be just the right person for a given job, or a willing executor of some commission. Where it comes from needs a bit more explaining.

First a bit of botanical history. When European settlers arrived in the New World, they found several plants that provided small, dark-coloured sweet berries. They reminded them of the English bilberry and similar fruits and they gave them one of the dialect terms they knew for them, hurtleberry, whose origin is unknown (though some say it has something to do with hurt, from the bruised colour of the berries; a related British dialect form is whortleberry). Very early on at the latest 1670 this was corrupted to huckleberry.

As huckleberries are small, dark and rather insignificant, in the early part of the nineteenth century the word became a synonym for something humble or minor, or a tiny amount. An example from 1832: "He was within a huckleberry of being smothered to death". Later on it came to mean somebody inconsequential. Mark Twain borrowed some aspects of these ideas to name his famous character, Huckleberry Finn. His idea, as he told an interviewer in 1895, was to establish that he was a boy "of lower extraction or degree" than Tom Sawyer.

Also around the 1830s, we see the same idea of something small being elaborated and bombasted in the way so typical of the period to make the comparison a huckleberry to a persimmon, the persimmon being so much larger that it immediately establishes the image of something tiny against something substantial. There's also a huckleberry over one's persimmon, something just a little bit beyond one's reach or abilities; an example is in David Crockett: His Life and Adventures by John S C Abbott, of 1874: "This was a hard business on me, for I could just barely write my own name. But to do this, and write the warrants too, was at least a huckleberry over my persimmon".

Quite how I'm your huckleberry came out of all that with the sense of the man for the job isn't obvious. It seems that the word came to be given as a mark of affection or comradeship to one's partner or sidekick. There is often an identification of oneself as a willing helper or assistant about it, as here in True to Himself, by Edward Stratemeyer, dated 1900: " 'I will pay you for whatever you do for me.' 'Then I'm your huckleberry. Who are you and what do you want to know?' ". Despite the obvious associations, it doesn't seem to derive directly from Mark Twain's books."




ANd here just for spice are some deathless excerpts from "Tombstone", 1993 version:

What do you want Wyatt?
Wyatt Earp: Just to live a normal life.
Doc Holliday: There is no normal life, Wyatt, there's just life, ya live it.
Wyatt Earp: I don't know how.
Doc Holliday: Sure ya do, say goodbye to me, go grab that spirited actress and make her your own. Take that spirit from her and don't look back. Live every second, live right on through to the end. Live Wyatt, live for me. Wyatt, if you were ever my friend... if ya ever had even the slightest of feelin' for me, leave now, leave now... please.
Wyatt Earp: Thanks for always being there, Doc.

...

Doc Holliday: It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

....
Doc Holliday: I'm your huckleberry...

More great lines here.


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