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Tilly Tickets (minicast)

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Did you ever use a tilly ticket in the bathroom?

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Over the years, we’ve answered lots of your questions about words and phrases that have to do with going to the bathroom.

We’ve talked about euphemisms like I have to go see a man about a horse. Or that Victorian-era locution, I’m going to go pluck a rose. Or my favorite: I’m going to visit Miss White.

We’ve also talked about the origin of biffy, a word for outdoor facilities. And we discussed how the word john may have become synonymous with that bathroom destination.

But recently we received an email that has me puzzled. It’s from Marge in Chula Vista, California. She writes: “My brother and I have been reminiscing about our childhood, spent in an old house in New Hampshire, during World War II. My mother always called toilet paper Tilly Tickets.”

She continues: “We don’t have a clue where that expression came from. Our memory was that when we were out of Tilly Tickets, we used the old scratchy patterns — the kind used for sewing.”

Eeeeuw. Well, her question made me squirm, and not just at the thought of using an old McCall’s pattern. I have to admit I’m stumped. “Tilly Tickets”? So I’m hoping you can help. Ever hear toilet paper called “Tilly Tickets”? If so, did you ever hear a story to explain that name? Let us know. Our email address is words@waywordradio.org.

One more thing: I want to share something I discovered while trying to find out about Tilly Tickets. You may recall that we’ve talked about the word lagniappe. It’s a term you’re more likely to hear in the Gulf States, especially in southern Louisiana. It means “a little something extra,” a little freebie that a vendor tosses in. A free keychain from your mechanic, or a calendar from a realtor–those are lagniappes.

Well, it turns out that in Ireland, and parts of Newfoundland, they don’t call it a lagniappe. They call it a tilly. I don’t think this type of tilly has anything to do with Tilly Tickets. Just a little extra something I thought I’d toss in.

Anyway, drop us a line if you know anything about Tilly Tickets. Hope you enjoyed this little tilly.

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