Sunday, June 13, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering, . . .

Smart alec - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "According to Gerald Leonard Cohen, author of Studies in Slang Part 1 (1985), the phrase 'smart alec' arose from the exploits of Alec Hoag. A celebrated pimp, thief, and confidence man operating in New York City in the 1840s, Hoag, along with his wife Melinda and an accomplice known as 'French Jack', operated a con called the 'panel game', a method by which prostitutes and their pimps robbed customers.

The key to his activities was that they did so in close association with two police officers, who shared the loot and provided protection. Most was done by pickpocketing, with Melinda taking the victim’s pocketbook while the victim was otherwise engaged and surreptitiously handing it to Hoag or French Jack as they walked by. Hoag's downfall came because he got into financial difficulties and tried to cheat his police protectors out of their share of the loot. In one exchange, Hoag lay behind a wall in a churchyard and had Melinda drop the goods over the wall to him so that the constables could not see them."

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