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Did You Know That Eleven and Twelve Make 23?

Did You Know That Eleven and Twelve Make 23?
"What time is it down there?" "Just eleven." "It's twelve up here—you know eleven and twelve make 23." Handwritten: "Did this ever occur to you?"

So what does the mother mean by yelling "eleven and twelve make 23" down at the couple hanging out on the hammock in the front yard at midnight?

To understand the humor of this postcard from 1909, it helps to know that a fad about the meaning of the number "23" became wildly popular in the United States in the early twentieth century. Beginning around 1906 or 1907, "23"—along with "23 skidoo"—came to be used as a shorthand way of telling someone to "scram," "beat it," or "get lost," usually with a humorous or joking connotation.

Referring to "23" in unexpected ways—as on this postcard or on a valentine—and even placing "23" in surprising places (like on the front of a painted automobile prop in a novelty photo) was a humorous way to let others in on the joke.

So it's obvious that mom is keeping tabs on her daughter as she watches the couple from the second-floor window. And her reference to "23" makes it clear (to those in the know, at least) that she wants the guy to skedaddle.

Postmark, address, and handwritten note on the other side of this postcard:

Omaha & Ogden R.P.O. [railway post office], Apr 1, 1909.

Miss Hazle Hainline, Grand Island, Neb., 222 W. 6th St.

Hello Girlie, wish I could have had the pleasure to set and hear you sing and play tonight. How is mama and dad. Tonight is the first I have eaten since I left your place. Haven't been hungry. Mora.

113 Pub. by Keller Bros., Portland, Or.

What Means This Shoe So Very New? Why,

Too Many Places to Go and Too Much to See

Smiley Derleth, amylsacks, David Slater (Spoddendale) have particularly liked this photo


Comments
 David Slater (Spoddendale)
David Slater (Spodde… club
I'm glad you went to the effort of explaining the meaning of the '23'. I had never heard of that before. Thanks Alan.
14 months ago.
 Alan Mays
Alan Mays club
Hi David, You're welcome, glad you found it interesting! It's fun to take a look back at postcards and photos like this and try to understand what they meant to the people who used them.
14 months ago.
 vfm4
vfm4
interesting indeed! :-)
14 months ago.
Alan Mays club has replied to vfm4
Thanks, Victorie!
14 months ago.
 Deborah Lundbech
Deborah Lundbech club
I wonder what the origin of the 23 and "scat" was? Interesting and curious.
13 months ago.

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