California CPE: Gossip of railwaymen

p.j. kindelon

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From time to time I share bits of other “contact languages” besides Chinook Jargon, to help illustrate that these are typically used in “street” situations.

Today, some reasonably accurately quoted West Coast Chinese Pidgin English from a man whose character came into question by a man portrayed as a gritty detective, with a couple of comments afterward.

gossip of railwaymen

Gossip of Railwaymen

WHEN Special Agent P. J. Kindelon of the Southern Pacific was bumped into, head foremost, by a Chinese who had been expelled from an office on the eleventh floor of the Flood building, evidently by a violent kick, he was certainly startled and also hurt.

No man likes to have a battering ram assail him in the regions of digestion, and after the special agent had recovered his poise and also his dignity he said:

“What’s the matter, John?”

My name no John, you sabbee,” replied the Chinese with even more dignity than the chief himself.

“Well, what’s the matter?”

You lailload man, eh?


Some man heap bad lailload man,” sighed the Chinese.

“Who are you?” inquired the chief. He felt sorry, thinking the celestial might have met William Hood and asked him when a train started for Milpitas.

I laundryman.” and the Chinese shrugged his shoulders.

“Wanted to collect a bill, eh, and got kicked for your pains, eh? Well, you heathen, don’t you know that an office is no place to collect bills? Get out of here!” 

Then Kindelon saw him on the eighth floor, the intellectual floor of the Flood building, still apparently collecting bills. 

“Got bills here, too?” asked Kindelon.

Evely place,” chirruped the Chinese.

A little later the Chinese again made a rapid exit from an office.

“Now these chaps are not engineers given to bad expressions and actions,” remarked Kindelon to himself. “I’ll have that fellow examined.” 

When Kindelon got him in his office the Chinese gave a list of officials who owed him money for laundry and from whom he was trying to collect. 

Notwithstanding his remarks Kindelon searched him and found lottery tickets in his possession.

Be sport,” said the Chinese. “Take $50, let me go.

— from the San Francisco (CA) Call of February 24, 1909, page 6, column 4

Those couple of notes:

This railway cop P.J. Kindelon may be the Patrick Kindelon (1848-1919) who died “under mysterious circumstances in Golden Gate Park“. He must’ve been a well-known local character, as you can find plenty of mentions of him with ease by googling. I even encountered an auction for an Irish horseshoe-themed invitation card to a banquet in his honor.

The Chinese Pidgin English word “lailload” coincidentally has the exact same pronunciation as the loan-word for a “train” into Ay’ajuthem (Comox) Salish of Vancouver Island’s north coast, in Canada. And Chinese immigrants formed the majority of the labor force that built the railroads out West. (“Between 1881 and 1884, as many as 17 000 Chinese men came to B.C. to work as labourers on the Canadian Pacific Railway.” — The Kids’ Site of Canadian Settlement) (“Railway operations on Vancouver Island date from the 1860s.” — Vancouver Island Railroads)

Coincidence? 🙂

Kata maika tomtom? What do you think?