A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 12, 2008
“Drop edge of yonder”

In 2007, author Donis Casey published a book titled The Drop Edge of Yonder. In 2008, author Rudolph Wurlitzer published a book titled Drop Edge of Yonder. Both books have western settings. Casey has defined “drop edge of yonder” as an archaic Texas phrase meaning “on the brink of death.”

Citations from the 1930s-1940s show “drop edge of yonder” used in the state of Tennessee, but the ultimate origin of the phrase is unknown.


Donis Casey: Write Errant
Oh, Joy
December 12th, 2006
(...)
I’ll wait until I hear the verdict before posting any details about the book, but the provisional title is The Drop Edge of Yonder.  As most of you Dear Readers have probably realized, I attempt to choose titles that are ethnic and somewhat colorful, and I did try to do that with the new book.  The title is taken from an archaic phrase once used in Texas. It means “the brink of death.” I like it very much.  But when I told anyone what I was thinking, about half the time I’d get a blank stare.  So I was feeling uncertain about it, until I attended an authors’ roundtable a few weeks ago.  The moderator went around the room and asked each of the dozen or so authors there to tell something about her or his work, and while I was speaking, someone asked me about my next title.

I girded my loins and spoke, and most of the people in the room went “Oooh!” I took that as approval and flicked the sweat from my brow.  So for the time being, Drop Edge of Yonder it is.
(...)
Early “Drop Edge” Mention
June 4th, 2007
(...)
While I was at it, I did a Google search of Drop Edge of Yonder just out of curiosity, and much to my amazement, I came up with 90 hits. Unfortunately, only a couple of them had anything to do with my book. I was surprised to find that the phrase “drop edge of yonder” is apparently still in much wider use than I knew. In fact, I nearly dropped my teeth to see that there is another book with exactly the same title coming out in 2008. Lest you wonder if that’s kosher, I hasten to assure you that even though authors try not to do it, it really isn’t uncommon, because titles can’t be copyrighted - just the stuff that in the book. This other Drop Edge is a Western novel by a very much more famous writer than I, one Rudy Wurlitzer, who has written many books as well as the screenplays for several well known movies, including one of my favorites, Little Buddha.

The thing that amazes me is that I have never said that title to a single person who knew what it means, so I was pretty sure it isn’t much used any more. I begin to think that if I still lived on top of Texas, I’d have known better. Rudy lives in California, I’m sure, but he obviously is from my part of the world, or at least knows somebody who is.
(...)
“Drop Edge” Is Ready
September 9th, 2007
(...)
The Drop Edge of Yonder is a book that was thirty years in the making, more or less. There are at least two pivotal scenes in the book that owe their existance to three things that I read that have stayed with me all that time. The first is from a newspaper article I read when I lived in Lubbock, Texas, back in the ’70’s. Two women, an elderly mother and her grown daughter, were out shopping together, walking down the street, minding their own business, when a crazy person ran up and attacked the daughter out of the blue. The old mother jumped on the crazy man’s back and pummeled him and bit on him and basically beat the heck out of him. 

Google Books
Tennessee: A Guide to the State
compiled and written by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Projects Administration for the state of Tennessee
New York, NY: Viking Press
1939
Pg. 134:
Backcountry folks are prone to use parts of speech in strange ways—nouns as verbs, verbs as nouns, adjectives and adverbs as nouns or verbs. “I’ve got them weary dismals today,” moans the hillman. “Granny Tatum’s standing on the drop-edge of Yonder and we’ll soon be laying her down in her silent grave.”

Google Books
The American Language: An Inquiry Into the Development of English in the United States
by H. L. Mencken
New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf
1945
Volume 3
Pg. 217:
the drop edge of yonder, at the point of death

Google Books
You All Spoken Here
by Roy Wilder, Jr.
New York, NY: Viking
1984
Pg. 207:
Standin’ on the drop edge of yonder: About to peg out; about to hang it up. 

23 June 1985, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “One thing Borden County has plenty of is nothing” by Kent Biffle:
So, in escapist flight from the urban blight of boosterism and mega-hype, I stopped here on the drop edge of yonder.

Google Groups: seattle.general
Newsgroups: seattle.general
From:
Date: 1999/03/30
Subject: Another Metro Moment #45

The little weasel tried to Clinton his way out but nobody’s buying it. So his government’s now on the drop edge of Yonder as his party sets new record lows in the polls.

Google Books
Blue Highways:
A Journey Into America
by William Least Heat Moon
Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company
1999 (First edition 1982)
Pg. 33:
“I got some bad ham meat one day,” Miss Ginny said, “and took to vomitin’. All day, all night. Hangin’ on the drop edge of yonder.”

Google Books
How We Talk: American Regional English Today
by Allan A. Metcalf
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Reference Books
2000
Pg. 48:
TENNESSEE
Tennessee is Southern, and it shares Midland and Appalachian characteristics with Kentucky to the north. But the mountains kept Tennessee isolated enough to develop vocabulary of its own. To have the weary dismals, a somewhat old-fashioned term, is to be truly depressed. If you have too much of the dismals, you might be on the drop edge of yonder, elsewhere known as the brink of death.

February 2005, Wild West, “Bold Rally Against the Odds at Fort Lancaster"by Wayne R. Austerman, pg. 46:
Immaculate in its isolation, Fort Lancaster State Historical Park is located eight miles east of Sheffield on U.S. Highway 290 (a scenic loop off Interstate Highway 10). Visitors should take Exit 343 from the interstate and follow U.S. 290 to the park (call 915-836-4391 for more information). The largest major population center is San Antonio, approximately 240 miles to the east. Fort Lancaster effectively conveys the sense of loneliness that must have attended soldiering on “the drop edge of yonder.”

(OCLC WorldCat record)
Title: The drop edge of yonder :
an Alafair Tucker mystery /
Author(s): Casey, Donis. 
Publication: Scottsdale, AZ : Poisoned Pen Press,
Year: 2007
Description: 215 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Standard No: ISBN: 9781590584460 :; 1590584465 :
Abstract: In 1914 Oklahoma, Alafair Tucker launches a personal investigation when her daughter Mary is wounded in the same attack in which Mary’s uncle, Bill McBride, is murdered, hoping to find the killer before he manages to eliminate anyone who can possibly identify him.

Lesa’s Book Critiques
Friday, November 30, 2007
Donis Casey at Velma Teague Library
(...)
She chooses titles that are ethnic sounding. The Drop Edge of Yonder is an old Texas saying that implies a place halfway between this world and the next.

(OCLC WorldCat record)
Title: Drop Edge of Yonder.
Author(s): Wurlitzer, Rudolph
Publication: Two Dollar Radio Movement
Year: 2008
Language: English
Standard No: ISBN: 9780976389552; 097638955X
Vendor Info: Baker and Taylor Baker & Taylor (BTCP BKTY) 15.00 Status: active
Document Type: Book

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, January 12, 2008 • Permalink