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 November 08, 2006
“Gentleman from Odessa (TX)”

"Gentleman from Odessa” is a euphemism. Supposedly, there are no gentlemen in Odessa, TX.

Naturally, “Son of a Bitch Stew” is sometimes called “Gentleman from Odessa.”


Google Books
I Give You Texas!
500 Jokes of the Lone Star State
by Boyce House
San Antonio: Naylor Company
1943
Pg. 66:
“The gentleman from Odessa” is a term frequently heard in West Texas. This explanation by the inhabitant of a rival town:

“Have you ever wanted to call a man a so-and-so in mixed company? Well, a so-and-so would be a gentleman in Odessa.”

So far from resenting the term, frequently a citizen from that town will smilingly introduce himself as “a gentleman from Odessa.”

1 November 1936, Abilene (TX) Morning Reporter-News, “Odessans Give Facts to Show Its Recovery,” pg. 11:
They used to call him the Duke of Wellington. Now he is the “Gentleman from Odessa.” West Texans know it isn’t considered polite to call a man a gentleman from Odessa, but Ward doesn’t mind. It’s just a joke.

The Texas Cookbook
by Arthur and Bobbie Coleman
New York: A. A. Wyn
1949
Pg. 45:
And then there is the way that is all Texas’ own: the original Son-of-a-Bitch Stew. It grew up on the far ranches, where cowbrutes are the main source of food. But no one should let its apparent sparseness deceive him. The
Son-of-a-Bitch Stew is well-named—it is just that, in the admiring sense.

This recipe is straight off Uncle Jim’s range, out in the Pecos Country, exactly as Aunt Nannie gave it to us. Aunt Nannie ought to know. She has been cooking this stew and other good food for cowpokes since we were yearlings,
more or less. Of course, these quantities have been citified. Aunt Nannie is more used to fixing for a couple of dozen hungry hands than for a family.

Pecos Son-of-a-Bitch Stew
Throw into the pot 1 pound of neck meat cut in small pieces, 1 heart cut up, the brains, all the marrow-gut, a (Pg. 46—ed.) little of the liver, salt, pepper, and chiles. Start in cold water.  Cook slowly until done, about 6 or 7 hours. When the meat is almost done, add 1 large can of tomato juice, if desired. Feeds about 8.

For the edification of those who may be dubious about marrow-gut, it is not an intestine. It is a milk-secreting tract found only in calves, and it imparts to a stew a delicious flavor all its own, without which the stew is nothing like so distinctive. Here is another version of the Son-of-a-Bitch Stew, which Jack Thornton says out in the country where he ranched for many years is called “Gentleman from Odessa” (Odessa, Texas, of course)—nobody we ever met seems to know why—but for the mollification of gentlemen from Odessa, he smiled when he said it. In fact, he laughed out loud. 

13 January 1960, Dallas Morning News, “Tolbert’s Texas,” section 4, pg. 1:
That Stew Called
“Gent From Odessa”
By FRANK X. TOLBERT

“YOUR LITTLE DISSERTATION on son-of-a-blankety-blank stew last Sunday warmed the cockles of my tired heart and started the juices working in my ancient innards,” writes R. Henderson Shuffler of College Station. “When I lived out at Odessa in the 1920’s the best roundup cooks on the southern Staked Plain made son-of-a-blankety-blank stew in big black washpots.”

The true name of this wonderful concoction is an unfriendly term in which it is implied that the man receiving the insult has canine ancestry on the distaff side. Mr. Shuffler takes the stand that a better name than son-of-a-blankety-blank stew “for parlor conversations and family newspapers” might be, simply, “S.O.B. stew.”

He also writes that “old timers of the southern Staked Plain often referred to S.O.B. stew as ‘Gentleman-from-Odessa.’” And he says: “I have seen it listed on menus from Carlsbad, N.M. to Sweetwater as ‘Gent-from-Odessa.’”

MR. SHUFFLER EXPLAINED why the stew was called Gentleman-from-Odessa: “In the 1890’s when Odessa was a huddle of frame buildings beside the newly laid T&P Railway tracks it had only one general store (Mudgett’s) and four saloons. The town had something of a reputation for hell-raising. People from Sweetwater to El Paso generally agreed that what passed for a gentleman in Odessa would be the equivalent of what was called a son-of-a-blankety-blank in more civilized prairie towns. Thus the name grew up. Trying to live up to this reputation has gotten a lot of Odessa boys shot since then.”

FOR ABOUT a decade, Henderson Shuffler wrote a very popular, daily column in his newspaper, The Odessa American, under what he calls “the nom-de-typewriter” of The Gentleman from Odessa. He said that “many newcomers thought I was a former Congresssman or simply presumptuous, but the old-timers understood and loved the title.”

14 August 1966, Chicago Tribune, “How about a bowl of chili?” by Robert Cromie, pg. P4”
THE BOOK ("A Bowl of Red” by Frank X. Tolbert—ed.) DEALS WITH the chili peppers known as “grains of Paradise,” gives chili history and legend, lists the well-known “chili heads”—past and present [including O. Henry and Will Rogers], discusses canned chili and chili powder, tamales and enchiladas, various beans, and even “The Gentleman from Odessa” [a place which reputedly had none] or “S. O. B. stew.”

21 August 1973, Odessa (TX) American, pg. B1:
The chili fracus will be simultaneously conducted with the International Son-Of-A-Gun Stew Rendezvous.

The stew in question, also named the “the Gentleman from Odessa stew” was created in Odessa.

8 August 2002, Doylestown (PA) Intelligencer, Commentary by Molly Ivins, pg. A7:
And who should pop up to defeat him but our very own, very special, Sen. Phil Gramm. The gentleman from Odessa (that’s an old Texas expression that means something else) blocked the attempt to expense stock options.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (1) Comments • Wednesday, November 08, 2006 • Permalink


Overwhelming content about gentleman from Odessa! I assume that the gentleman from Odessa blocked the attempt to expenditure stock options.

Posted by David Hassy  on  04/10  at  01:35 AM

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