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FSF- In a Coon's Age

 

 

IN A COON’S AGE

 

I have been out traveling quite a bit the last two weeks. So have our masked furry friends. Raccoons are currently out looking for their winter homes and that has lead to a lot of dead one on the highway. With all those furry speed bumps in the road, how did “In a coon’s age” get its start? 
 
Meaning: Coon's age is short for raccoon's age, meaning a very long time.
 
Origin: "A coon's age" is an Americanism recorded in 1843 and probably related to the old English expression 'in a crow's age,' meaning the same. "References differ, but a wild individual raccoon might live up to 5 to 7 years (average survival being much lower, though, probably 2-3 years), and in captivity they can live up to 14-17 years. So their lifespan is comparable to that of a dog." In the early 1800s, it's doubtful if anyone knew how long raccoons actually lived, and two to three years in the wild is not really very long. But raccoon fur is hardy and reasonably durable, which might have given rise to the belief of longevity.
 
As you may know, the "coon" came to mean a whole different thing unrelated to expression "in a coon's age." Coon was first a term for a white person from the country, and then it became an insulting term for a black person.
 
"Coon” was originally a short form for raccoon in 1741, then by 1832 meant a frontier rustic, and by 1840 a Whig. The 1834 song 'Zip Coon' (better known today as 'Turkey in the Straw') didn't refer specifically to either a White or a Black and the 'coon songs' of the 1840s and 50s were Whig political songs. By 1862, however, coon had come to mean a Black and this use was made very common by the popular 1896 song 'All Coons Look Alike to Me,' written by Ernest Hogan, a Black who didn't consider the word derogatory at the time." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976), Page 54.
 
Thanks to political correctness the use of “coon” is now generally considered offensive.  However, if you are inclined not to use a coon's age because you think it refers to African Americans and not raccoons look at the dates and think again. On the other hand, it might be time to come up with a new term for "a long time" since the ones we have are more worn out than a month of Sunday’s!
 
For more info on Raccoons: http://icwdm.org/wildlife/raccoon.asp
 
Sources:
 
Farm Sayings Friday is weekly feature of Yield Starts Here. You might think your grandparents made it up, but that old saying likely goes back many years. In this feature we will figure out who said it first and what it really means! Do you hav

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  • Article Reference:: Calcium Products, Inc.
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