1888: A Halloween tangent

Only obliquely related to either Chinuk Wawa or Hallowe’en, the following piece of PNW regional humour was irresistible…

…So I’m republishing it for your fun.

Wah Wah is Chinook Jargon wawa ‘words, chat, speech, etc.’

walla walla wah wah 1

walla walla wah wah 2

walla walla wah wah 3


     The Only Walla Walla Wah
Wah, published at Walla Walla,
Walla Walla county, Wash. Ter., by J[ohn].
Watermelon Redington, a bad man
from Heppner [Oregon], is received. It is not
a thing ot beauty, and may not be a
joy forever, but like tne muscado-
mestica, it gets there just the same.
It is chuck full of joaks and will be
read when Donnelly, Shakspeare and
the tariff are forgotten, and probably
before then.

     Here are three of the advertise-

     Henry Hominy hereby offers his
valuable services as night guard of
watermelon patches. Punishment in-
flicted on boy poachers is guaranteed
painless; none but careful and xperi-
enced assistants mployed; terms 3/4 
of the crop.

     Also, will herd cows off your side-
walk at night for 1/2 the cow.

     Also, will contract to supply young
ladies’ seminaries with pure moun-
tain chewing gum in quantities of not
less than 14 barrels per month. My
gum-patch in the beautiful Blue
mountains is kept in a high state of

     Refers without permission to the
Duke of Delaware and Crown Prince
of Road Island.

     Prairie Schooner “Belle of the Buf-
falow-wallow,” now lying in port at
foot of Polar street — Neither the cap-
tain or crew will be responsible for
any stuff furnished the consignees of
this bark beyond four barrels of beer
to each man, and the usual amount
of cigarettes allowed on other vessels
of the United States navy. Prefer-
ence will in all cases be given to arti-
cles of home manufacture, and darn
the xpense.           J. JERKLINE.

     Notice to Mariners. — Look out for
a chuck hole in the road on the
grand driveway around the garrison,
where the ground was imperfectly
summer-fallowed while Windy Jack
held the brush-harrow over it 6 years
ago. It bears N NE S SE N of the
bow jib of the mountain howitzer near
the guardhouse.

          JACK O. LANTERN,
Supe. of gov. candlestix in this
hot-house dist.

     Here is a little chunk of editorial:

     Ensilage for canary birds is fast
finding favor as a popular plate
which cheers but does not make
drunk. It is imported in large quan-
tities from the rocks on Sand island,
where the sea-gulls deposit it on the
walking-beam of the Great Republic.
The price at which it is retailed in
the drug stores shows that it must
have been smuggled through the As-
toria custom-house.

     The Wah Wah is full of native
strength and solemn beauty and goes
on THE ASTORIAN’S X [exchanges] list without a

— from the Astoria (OR) Daily Morning Astorian of May 18, 1888, page 3, column 4

Bonus fact:


“Watermelon” (image credit: Oregon Digital Newspaper Program)

The Walla Walla Wah-Wah didn’t exist, but John W. Redington, formerly a scout in the Nez Perce and Bannock wars, did have a newspaper. He took on the challenge of running Heppner, Oregon’s weekly paper, when the former editor was run out of town by the bad guys. Redington became legendary for his unusual and confrontational, but humorous, style of newsmanship.

Here’s yet another regional newspaper honoring his spirit, and I think drawing one of the many parallels between Chinuk Wawa and the artificial international language Volapük:


— from the Pullman (WA) Herald of December 22, 1888, page 4, column 6

qʰata mayka təmtəm?
What do you think?