Seven weeks ago Frank Silver, Jewish-American author of the so-called Banana Song, spoke as follows (TIME, July 2):
"About a year ago my little orchestra was playing at a Long Island hotel. To and from the hotel I was wont to stop at a little fruit stand owned by a Greek, who began every sentence with ' Yess.' The jingle of his idiom haunted me and my friend Cohn. Finally I wrote this verse and Cohn fitted it with a tune."
Last week T. A. Dorgan ("Tad"), able cartoonist for the New York
Evening Journal and other Hearst newspapers, wrote TIME the following letter:
"Regarding our telephone conversation this afternoon regarding Yes, We Have No Bananas, I can tell you that I have been using that expression on and off for about four years in the Hearst papers.
" A friend of mine, Jas. Mulvey, a politician of San Francisco, cracked it while I was there on a visit in 1919. An Italian fruit man with a stand near the corner of Jim's house used to keep his bananas inside, while on the sidewalk he kept apples, peaches, plums, etc. The kids, getting wise, used to buy bananas and while he went inside to get said fruit they'd cop an apple, peach or whatever they fancied.
" The wop didn't tumble for a long time but as his OUTSIDE STOCK gradually diminished with the sale of bananas he finally got wise and later on sold NO BANANAS AT ALL. When the kids approached and asked for bananas the wop THEN smilingly replied: ' Yes—we have no bananas.'
"It was a laugh to me and I felt sure it would drag one from the rest of the world, if I kept it going long enough. It did.
"Most of my popular slang phrases and sayings originated in San Francisco. The once over, ' 23,' run out powder, hire a hall, jitney, flivver, Larry turn the crank, get your goat, where d'ye get that stuff, and hundreds of others came from there.
"I hope this is what you wanted.
"Yours truly, "TAD."