Looking through 1860’s A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words is a great way to waste a large amount of time. You’ll learn that a bitch party is merely a tea party, cheesy used to be a good thing, and there have always been lots of words for drunkenness, prostitutes and money. My favorite words in the book, however, are the ones that are slang for something that you don’t see much of these days. To wit,
a “mush faker.” That’s an itinerant umbrella repairer. “Mush” was short for mushroom, which was slang for umbrella, and I guess a faker is somebody who patches something up so it works all right. That’s all well and good. The thing about this, though, is that there used to be guys going from town to town fixing umbrellas. That is a high level of specialization. That’s like being a person who fixes the end of your shoelaces (the aglet, you know), and he only sets up shop at train stations. Sure, if this was the only thing you did all day you’d get really good at it, but variety, spice of life and whatnot. Maybe this is why I’ve never seen a mush faker. I sure hope I don’t break my umbrella any time soon.