1880s: Archie Boyd’s Skagit reminiscences (hats off to Jargon in France)

The title of the article at the Skagit River Journal site is long and informative:

Screenshot 2023-03-13 083459

“Lewis Alexander Boyd:
sailed around the world pre-Civil War, broke sod in the Midwest,
first schoolmaster upriver, Skagit county clerk”

So here we’re treated to memories of early settlement in northwest Washington Territory..and far beyond!

The Boyd family moved there in 1882, and the following reminiscences are by L.A. Boyd’s eldest son, Archie.

Here’s one from the 1880s:

A man by the name of McEwan was editor of the Pu[g]et Sound Mail, the same being published at LaConner. In 1888 he went to Paris. He could not speak a word of French and he said he “damned near starved” to death for two weeks because he couldn’t tell them what he wanted to eat. One day he was standing on the street, hating h[i]mself, when a man came up and slapped him on the back and said “Klahowya Tillicum” (Hello Fr[ie]nd). He turned around and it was a man from LaConner whom he knew. He said he was “so damned tickled” that he kissed the man’s hand. When he was telling us about it he said: “I’ll tell you, Chinook Hi-as-klosh wa-wa,” and promised as long as he lived he would take off his hat whenever he heard Chinook spoken.

Chinook Hi-as-klosh wa-wa means ‘Chinook is a wonderful language!’

And here’s one from much later, recycling the perennial “disgusted Native speaking the Queen’s English in response to Chinuk Wawa” joke:

 I visited at Birdsview in April 1945. They had a party for me the first night I was there and it was 12:30 a.m. before we knew it. Every one of the Savage boys, along with Otto Pressentin are bald-headed [now]. The old Skagit has changed so much that no place looked natural. The first day I was at Birdsview, my cousin Ira Savage and his wife and I went out to the river. An Indian came along with two big trout. I said: “Klahowya Tillicum,” and he said: “How[ ]do you do, sir?” I said: “Hias cold ok-ok sun,” and he said: “Yes, rather cold.” I said “Cunsie chic-a-mon mika ticky copa ok-ok ke pish?” and he a[ns]wered: “I do not care to dispose of them (pish is fish in the Chinook language). I then said: “Will you go jump in the river?” He answered: “Nah-wit-ka,” and I thought Ira and Mary would die laughing.

Hias cold ok-ok sun = ‘It’s really cold today.’ Cunsie chic-a-mon mika ticky copa ok-ok ke pish? = ‘How much money do you want for those fish?’ (In northern-dialect Chinook Jargon.) Nah-wit-ka = ‘Yes.’

There’s also an anecdote of the evergreen “hias cultus Boston man” joke in the same web page, which I’ve built into a separate article here on my site.

Archie was a classic Northwest Settler of his time, knowing both the regional language and the humor that came with it.

Fun reading — go check out the Archie Boyd page. It’s definitely popular, to judge by the 3 million page views!

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