Shuffle off to Buffalo

On this Day:

In 1831, the 1st US railroad honeymoon trip, by Mr & Mrs Pierson, Charleston, South Carolina took place. Of course newlyweds had been shuffling off to places where they could not be found for years and years before this…

A marriage vacation is a vacation taken by newlyweds immediately after their wedding, to celebrate their marriage. Today, honeymoons are often celebrated in destinations considered exotic or romantic.

In Western culture and some westernized countries’ cultures, the custom of a newlywed couple’s going on a holiday together originated in early-19th-century Great Britain. Upper-class couples would take a “bridal tour”, sometimes accompanied by friends or family, to visit relatives who had not been able to attend the wedding. The practice soon spread to the European continent and was known in France as a voyage à la façon anglaise (translation: English-style voyage), from the 1820s onwards.

Honeymoons in the modern sense—a pure holiday voyage undertaken by the couple—became widespread during the Belle Époque, in the late 1800s as one of the first instances of modern mass tourism.

According to some sources, the honeymoon is a relic of marriage by capture, based on the practice of the husband going into hiding with his wife to avoid reprisals from her relatives, with the intention that the woman would be pregnant by the end of the month.

The honeymoon was originally the period following marriage, “characterized by love and happiness”, as attested since 1546. The word may allude to “the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest”.

According to a different version of the Oxford English Dictionary:

The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane; now, usually, the holiday spent together by a newly married couple, before settling down at home.

Today, honeymoon has a positive meaning, but originally it may have referred to the inevitable waning of love like a phase of the moon. In 1552, Richard Huloet wrote:

Hony mone, a term proverbially applied to such as be newly married, which will not fall out at the first, but th’one loveth the other at the beginning exceedingly, the likelihood of their exceadinge love appearing to aswage, ye which time the vulgar people call the hony mone. — Abcedarium Anglico-Latinum pro Tyrunculis

In many modern languages, the word for a honeymoon is a calque (e.g., French: lune de miel) or near-calque.[citation needed] Persian has a similar word, mah-e-asal, which translates to “month of honey” or “moon of honey”.

A fanciful 19th-century theory claimed that the word alludes to “the custom of the higher order of the Teutones… to drink Mead, or Metheglin, a beverage made with honey, for thirty days after every wedding”, but the theory is now rejected.

One 2015 scholarly study concluded that going on a honeymoon is associated with a somewhat lower risk of divorce, regardless of how much or little is spent on the honeymoon itself. However, high spending and incurring significant debt on other wedding-related expenses, such as engagement rings and wedding ceremonies, is associated with a high risk of divorce (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

A young couple were on their honeymoon . . .

. . . and they were staying at a hotel with a large swimming pool. They decided to go for a swim, and the bride donned a new bikini that she had just purchased. As she swam and splashed around in the pool, she soon discovered that the bikini was too large, and the top and bottom kept coming off. As they were the only ones in the pool, she and her husband would laugh and playfully retrieve the bikini from the pool’s bottom over and over again.

That evening they dressed for dinner and headed to their hotel’s elegant restaurant, where they were seated next to a huge aquarium. Strangely, the aquarium was devoid of any aquatic life.

When the bride asked their waiter why the aquarium had no fish in it, he smiled broadly and said, “That’s not an aquarium…that’s the swimming pool!”

Second, a Song:

“Shuffle Off to Buffalo” is a song written by Al Dubin and Harry Warren and introduced in the 1933 musical film 42nd Street, in which Ruby Keeler and Clarence Nordstrom sang and danced to it. Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, and the Chorus also performed it in the film.

Popular recordings in 1933 were by Don Bestor (vocal by Maurice Cross) and by Hal Kemp (vocal by Skinnay Ennis). The song was also popular on the radio in that year and was later performed and recorded by the Boswell Sisters, the Three X Sisters and The Andrews Sisters.

It was recorded by Roy Smeck and presented by The Lawrence Welk Show on television. Comedy acts with the song have included Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Fred Gwynne, and The Odd Couple.

The lyrics talk about going by railroad train “to Niag’ra in a sleeper” for a honeymoon. Niagara Falls, near Buffalo, New York, was long a popular honeymoon destination. Earlier use of phrases similar to the title in US popular tunes include the 1927 tune “Off to Buffalo” by Joe Candullo and Jack Carroll, recorded by Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra, and Irving Berlin’s lyrics to George Botsford’s 1910 hit “The Grizzly Bear” which includes the line “Show your darling beau just how you go to Buffalo”. Also, the 1985 John Fogerty song “Rock and Roll Girls” from his album Centerfield contains the lyrics “If I had my way, I’d shuffle off to Buffalo and sit by the lake and watch the world go by.”

Here is Kailey Jones as Maggie Jones in West Orange High School’s Mainstage Production of “42nd Street” (courtesy of Kailey Jones and I am amazed that this is a high school production!! I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“I have a fantastic husband. Here’s the honeymoon part: I still think he’s the funniest, wittiest, most clever man I’ve ever known.” – Sarah Jessica Parker

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Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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