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.

Recent entries:
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (12/16)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (12/16)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (12/16)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (12/16)
“If the world is getting smaller, why do postal rates keep going up?” (12/16)
More new entries...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z


Entry from June 18, 2016
New Jersey: “What did Delaware?"/"Her New Jersey.”

"What did Delaware?” ("What did Della wear?") is an old pun on the state name. “her New Jersey!” is the usual answer. “What did Delaware?” was asked in the New York (NY) Sun in 1903? “If Mississippi wore Missouri’s New Jersey what did Delaware?” was asked in London Scraps in 1909.

A “State Song,” popular in the 1920s and of unknown authorship, asked, “What did Delaware?” The song “Delaware” (1959) written by Brooklyn-born Irving Gordon (1915-1996), was sung by popular singer and television personality Perry Como (1912-2001).


Wikipedia: Delaware (song)
“Delaware” is a popular song, written by Irving Gordon. The song was published in 1959 and has references to 15 states of the United States. The states were portrayed, in the form of puns, as: Della wear, new jersey, Calla ‘phone ya, how ar’ ya, Mrs sip, mini-soda, Ore gone, I’ll ask ‘er, taxes, Wiscon sin, new brass key, Arkan saw, Tenne see, Flora die and misery.

Gordon was apparently inspired to write the song after the success of another song that he wrote punning on the name of States of the United States of America: “Mister and Mississippi.”

Chronicling America
21 June 1903, The Sun (New York, NY), “More Questions on Geography,” pg. 6, col. 5:
What did Delaware?
(...)
PETER KARA.

Chronicling America
10 October 1904, Ocala (FL) Evening Star, pg. 2, col. 2:
HOME-MADE ADDITION TO STATELY POETRY
(By the Star poet.)
If Della had a dry goods bill
That made her husband swear;
Now truly tell me if you can
Just what did Delaware.

2 October 1909, St. Albans (VT) Daily Messenger, “English Puns,” pg. 6, col. 4:
If Mississippi wore Missouri’s New Jersey what did Delaware? (...)—London Scraps.

Google News Archive
23 April 1915, Bryan (OH) Democrat, “English Puns,” pg. 3, col. 3:
If Mississippi wore Missouri’s New Jersey what did Delaware? (...)—London Scraps.

Google News Archive
7 October 1915, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Bits of Byplay” by Luke McLuke, pg. 10, col. 3:
Dear Luke” As to what did Delaware and where did Maryland when she wore her New Jersey, and aso what did Tennessee, we have long ago quit pondering. (...)—Wyandot (O.) Union Republican.

Google Books
Phunology:
A collection of tried and proved plans for play, fellowship, and profit, for the use of Epworth leagues, Sunday school classes, and other young people’s societies

By E. O. Harbin
Nashville, TN: Dept. of Sunday school supplies, Pub. House of the M.E. church, South
1920
Pg. 408:
State Song
What did Delaware, boys? What did Delaware? Etc., etc., etc.,
I ask you again as a personal friend, What did Delaware?
She wore a New Jersey, boys. She wore a New Jersey. Etc., etc., etc.,

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
18 August 1922, Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, pg. 11, col. 2:
What did Delaware, boys,
What did Delaware?
(repeat twice)

I ask you again
As a personal frien’
She wore a New Jersey, boys,
(repeat twice)

I tell you then
Aa a pers’nal frien’
She wore a New Jersey.

31 August 1928, Sedalia (MO) Capital, pg. 5, col. 2:
ONE OF THE SONGS OF THE M. F. A. CONVENTION
Following are the words to one of the songs sung at the M. F. A. convention:

What did Delaware, Boys?
What did Delaware.
(Repeat twice)
I ask you then,
As a Personal Friend,
What did Delaware?

She wore a New Jersey, Boys,
She wore a New Jersey.
(Repeat twice)
I tell you then,
As a Personal Friend,
She wore a New Jersey.

Google News Archive
10 June 1957, The Times-News (Hendersonville, NC), “Geography Riddles,” pg. 7, cols. 3-4:
What did Delaware wear to the party?
She wore her New Jersey.

20 February 1960, Disc, “Disc Date: Price, Como, Conway, Eddy Have Winner” by Don Nicholl, pg. 10, col. 1:
PERRY COMO
Delaware: I Know What God Is
(RCA 1170)
“DELAWARE” is based on an old American children’s rhyme. Uses the names of American places as puns..."What did Della wear? She wore a New Jersey!”

Google Books
Biggest Riddle Book in the World
By Joseph Rosenbloom
Illustrations by Joyce Behr
New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
1976
Pg. 39:
What did Delaware?
She wore her New Jersey.

Google News Archive
28 June 1977, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), “Fun Time—The Riddle Box,” pg. 9, col. 2:
What did Delaware?
A New Jersey.

Google News Archive
10 November 1980, Nashua (NH) Telegraph, “Jumble” (word game), pg. 15, col. 3:
“What did Delaware?”
“HER NEW JERSY”

6 November 1994, Washington (DC) Post, “Children’s Books” by Michael Dirda, pg. X10:
What did Delaware? She wore her New Jersey.

10 November 2000, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “The Kids’ Reading Room; Reading by 9; Jokes & Riddles,” pg. E9:
Flo: What did Delaware do when Mississippi lent Missouri her New Jersey?
Joe: I don’t know. Alaska. (Julee, fifth grade, State Street Elementary, South Gate)

YouTube
Delaware - Perry Como.
Hi There. Enjoy yourself.
Uploaded on Aug 19, 2008
I Think this song is really funny.

Google Books
The Mammoth Book of Really Silly Jokes
By Geoff Tibballs
London: Constable & Robinson Ltd
2011
Pg. 128:
What did Delaware?
Her New Jersey.

Google Books
More One Liners, Jokes and Gags
By Grant Tucker
London: The Robson Press
2013
Pg. ?:
What did Delaware?
A New Jersey.

Posted by Barry Popik
Other ExpressionsOther States • Saturday, June 18, 2016 • Permalink