A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

First mention: “Clean and sober”

In one of the “Mad Men” discussions, someone asks if it was anachronistic to describe Freddy Rumsen as “clean and sober” in 1963 (from here, I think.)

The first clear use of this expression in the New York Times archives is from August 28, 1892, which has the embedded note in an article about a murder trial:

DEAR MISS CLOVER: WIll you meet me outside the Canterbury at 7:30 to-night? DO you remember the night I bought your boots? You were too drunk to speak to me. If you come clean and sober, please bring this paper and evenelope with you. (Neill held for murder; The death of Matilda Clover described by a witness; New York Times, August 28, 1892).

Someone else found hundreds of references in Google Books. So it’s ok to say Freddy was clean and sober; I hope he stays that way.

Update: going back to find original discussion which got me thinking.

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