Momma used to use the expression “we went to different schools together”. She had bosom buddies that dated back to childhood, but this expression identified buddies that were instantly sympatico, as warm and close as those with old school chums.
I was born in the Truman administration, but my siblings say it appeared to be something she’d used since the 1930s and not new even then. On the other hand, I’ve never heard the expression used by anyone who didn’t get it from her.
Google tells me that a Pittsburgh band used that as an album title in 1970, and a 1972 book of “one stagers for golden agers” a character trying to pick up a girl with that as a non-sequitur. I can find nothing in the sense that my mother used it, even though a Google n-gram search hits on “different schools together” as far back as the late 19th century.
I find it hard to believe such a useful phrase has survived into a third century without anyone noting a definition. obviously, my research skills are seriously insufficient to the task. Anyone know anything about going to different schools together?
Sometimes, google starts giving different results, or perhaps I’m learning how to use their tools better.
The Michigan Technic, in 1916, had a page of trivia little items, entitled “Transitory Slamts” ,one of which was “Our stenographer laughed at that. She and I went to different schools together.” Nothing preceding it which would explain what that was. The items all appeared to be unrelated. What’s the for the little fillers they used to stuff at the end of a newspaper article, back in the days of linotype? With computer layout, they’ve pretty well disappeared. I don’t know what the Technic was, but it sorta feels like a student magazine; it has pages of “Alumni Notes”. One of the other Transitory Slants was about something that “had subtlety sticking out all over,” so I think “went to different school together” was a new phrase to them that struck their fancy.
The earliest cite I see is the Dry Goods Reporter in 1901, whee an item began
Not so many months ago I got a telegram from my old friend, Jim Lessen, of Purcell, I. T. All the telegram said was, “Come quick, I am up against it.”
I used to know Jim when we went to different schools together, and he could eat more pie than any boy that ever went with his hair uncombed…
He sure paints a picture, doesn’t he? I bet many subscribers turned to that fellow’s column first, when their copy arrived.
The phrase caught fire about WWII. If you remember the movies “Man Without A Star” or “Prairie Schooner”, both of them used the phrase in the novels. I don’t know if the phrase was used in the Saturday morning matinees, but that surely would have added the phrase to general awareness. It has enough dissonance to get people’s attention, yet it says something that no other phrase really does well.
It might have been used in radio, as well, but Google doesn’t spider old radio broadcasts very well….
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