Black Maria/Paddy wagon

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14 comments on this post.
  1. Mike Maddux:

    Yours is a quote for all times:

    “It’s like having a little person living inside my computer deciding whether people, places and things are famous enough to pass muster. The rest of the time, of course, the machine is as stupid as a toaster.”

    “…the machine is as stupid as a toaster.”

    I think it neatly replaces the very old adage: “The only real use for a computer is to tie a rope on it and use it as an anchor.”

    Nice turn of the phrase, writer.

    It reminds us to always respect the tool as just what it is. Like a hammer or a screwdriver or a toaster it will not last forever, it is useful in VERY specific instances and is usually (at a cost)replaceable.

    Tool. Tool. Tool. Nothing more.

    Data is something else, of course, but is even more ephemeral than hardware. Data simply equals money, and as the financial system keeps reminding us money is quite ephemeral.

    Just a thought.

    Sincerely yours,
    Mike Maddux

    P.S. Best to you all… English is the greatest language in the world simply because we are not afraid to borrow and we eschew rigor. Probably goes with our democracy. Ain’t we the cat’s meow.

  2. IOANNIS STATHAKOPOULOS:

    I HAD ALWAYS HEARD OF THE TERM
    BLACK MARIA AS MEANING A HEARSE,
    WHICH WERE TRADITIONALLY ALWAYS BLACK,
    EVEN IN THE OLD WEST, THE HORSE OR MULE DRAWN ONES.
    TODAY IT SEEMS WHITE IS THE PREFERRED STANDARD COLOR.
    ,,,,, HENCE THE EXPRESSION
    “THAT’S A HEARSE (HORSE) OF A DIFFERENT COLOR”.

  3. Topi Linkala:

    How come ‘Black Maria’ is americanism as we here in Finland call our paddy wagons with the name ‘Musta Maija’. ‘Musta’ is finnish for ‘black’ and Maija is finnishization of Maria. Finnish paddy wagons have never been black, they’ve always been dark blue with white markings.

    Our ethymological dictionary puts its ethymology as translation on swedish term which originates as a translation on a dutch term.

  4. Jon Butterfield:

    My mother was taken to the hospital in a ‘Black Maria’ January 1944 in Chicago. Snow had totally crippled the city and she of course she went into labor with her first baby, the only moving thing in the whole city was the heroic policeman that got that big black panel truck through all that terrible weather to my mom, then, through the blizzard safely to the hospital where my oldest sister was born. My mom is 87 now and say’s she can still see the rough gentle faces of those men.

  5. Brenda Humphrey:

    My mother often referred to her father’s paddy wagon as the Black Maria. He was town marshall of a small town in
    Indiana during the depression.

  6. juancho:

    You know it means no mercy
    They caught him with a gun
    No need for the Black Maria
    Goodbye to the Brixton sun

  7. mrsfontes:

    What about the idea that “maria” is the plural for the Latin “mare” or “female horse.” A black wagon pulled by horses . . .

  8. Dennis:

    My father used to use this term when describing the RCMP prisoner panel trucks of the 40′s and 50′s in Prince George BC Canada. There were many beer parlour fights in those days in what was a rather wild frontier town full of loggers and ranchers in those days. I think he may have had a few rides in the Maria himself! I have seen it spelled with h at the end “mariah” to make it easier to pronounce. For some reason the word paddy wagon was used for a vehicle used to pick up mental patients as it was padded inside to prevent people from injuring themselves. Also interesting is the use of the word goal to describe a jail, as the term the prisoner was sentenced to 30 days in goal was used in newspaper reporting up into the 1980′s.
    The term beer parlour was common also, with its separate ladies and escorts signage above the door ways. They only served beer in those days, and to get hard drinks you had to go to the lounge.

  9. Natalie James:

    I love this, there are so many old sayings that are disappearing and the people who used them too old too remember them or their meanings, or these older folk are simply not with us today. To know we can come here and find out what the sayings originally meant is great. I remember the “black mariah”, my parents saying behave or the black mariah will come. Conjured up a picture of some black ghostly wagon being pulled by black horses driven by some ghostly looking headless boogeyman hahaha the imagination, usually scared us enough to behave.

  10. john o'brien:

    my family from the ‘old sod’ of Ireland tell me the ‘paddy’ was a drunken wastrel as opposed to the ‘patty’s’ who drove the thing.the ‘black mariah’ was in effect your hearse for when it came for you, from the brits or constabulay, you wouldn’t be coming back.

  11. Maurice Clark Scott:

    I am in my eighties and always heard my Irish side of the family (Clarks and Scotts) describe the Irish hearse as a black myrhia or some similar spelling, but my spell checker will not accept it or any version that I attempt. I know only that many published books that refer to the old Irish black hearses alway used my “lost” spelling of the word – but, I can assure you that all contain the alpha character “y.”

    We always state that one cheated the black myrhia(sp) another time when describing a close encounter …
    mls

  12. K.B. Robertson:

    “Come on bay beeeee. Getinto my big black caaaar…
    Sounds ominous.
    (And it is. : )

  13. K.B. Robertson:

    Big Black Mariah

    I’m cutting through the cane break rattling the sill
    Thunder that the rain makes when the shadow tops the hill
    Big light on the back street hill to evermore
    Packing down the ladder with the hammer to the floor

    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Mariah baby
    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Ford

    Well I’m all boxed up on a red belle dame
    Flat Blue Johnny with a blind man’s cane
    A hundred yellow bullets with a rag out in the wind
    That old blind tiger an old bell

    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Mariah baby
    Here come the Big Black Ford yeah

    Now we’re all boxed up on a red belle dame
    Flat Blue Johnny with a blind man’s cane
    A hundred yellow bullets with a rag out in the wind
    That old blind tiger on a

    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Mariah baby
    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Ford

    Oh yeah
    Big Black Mariah here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Mariah
    Here come the Big Black Mariah

  14. elf:

    It looks like even in russian language we got Blac Marusia (Marusia is variant of Maria name) from poem of Anna Akhmatova, who knew Black Maria from James Joyce’s “Ulisse”

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