Here, terms are listed in the order they appear in the script. Page numbers correspond to the Plume publication by Penguin Group, 1990.


 Parchman Farm another name for the Mississippi State  Penitentiary, the oldest prison and only maximum security  prison for men in the state of Mississippi. Inmates work on the  prison farm and in manufacturing workshops. The prison holds  male offenders only, classified at all custody levels. (8, 63)

Irene Kaufmann Settlement House The Council of Jewish Women of Pittsburgh irene kaufmannestablished a social settlement in the midst of the Hill District. Soon the Council took larger quarters and moved to 1835 Centre Ave. To carry on and enlarge this work, in 1908 Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kaufmann, in memory of their daughter, donated the Irene Kaufmann Settlement. At the settlement, anyone who needed help could get it. The needy were provided with food, shelter, English lessons, and these programs expanded into community activities, where children could take art and music lessons. (10)

“The land of milk and honey” a Biblical allusion to the story of Moses in the Book of Exodus, in which God promised a plentiful land to the Chosen People. The phrase is also used colloquially  to describe a place where luxuries are abundant and easily acquired. (17)

 Sugar tit a folk name for a baby pacifier that was once commonly made and used in North America and Britain. It was made by placing a spoonful of sugar, or honey, in a small patch of clean cloth, then gathering the cloth around the sugar and twisting it to form a bulb. The bulb was then secured by twine or a rubber band. The baby’s saliva would slowly dissolve the sugar in the bulb. (18)

Ham hock the joint between the tibia/fibula and the metatarsals of the foot, where the foot was attached to the hog’s leg. It is a portion of the pig’s leg, also known as a pork knuckle. Ham hocks are sometimes prepared by smoking. Since this piece generally consists of much skin, tendons and ligaments, it requires long cooking through stewing or braising to be made palatable. (26)

Squirrel Hill a residential neighborhood in the east end of the city of Pittsburgh. It has a historically very white and Jewish population. (29, 58)

Jaundice is often seen in liver disease such as hepatitis or liver cancer. It may also indicate gallstones or pancreatic cancer. It is often characterized by a yellow discoloration of the skin. (31)

 “on Centre” Centre Avenue is a busy street that is one of several main thoroughfares in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It stretches from Sixth Avenue near the Allegheny County Courthouse to East Liberty.  (33)

Sunflower County is a county in the state of Mississippi, with a black majority and white minority population. (3, 34)


“Jumping the broom” Most marriages between enslaved blacks were not legally recognized during American slavery, so slaves instead adopted a custom known as “jumping the broom.” The ceremonial jumping of the broom served as an open declaration of marriage. Jumping the broom was always done before witnesses as a public ceremonial announcement, showing that a couple had chosen to become as close to married as was then allowed. (44)

“Yellow Dog” a train line that ran from Memphis, TN to New Orleans, LA between 1882 and 1946. The railroad – or its predecessor, the Yazoo Delta Railway, appears in a number of blues songs as the Yellow Dog Railroad. According W. C. Handy, locals assigned the words “Yellow Dog” to the letters Y.D. on the freight trains that they saw. (45, 85)

Corn dodger a cake of corn bread that is fried, baked, or boiled as a dumpling. (47)

Rhumba ThScreen Shot 2015-04-16 at 3.06.58 PMeater a cinema located on Fullerton Street in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. (61)

Florsheim Shoes a brand of men’s dress shoes. (62)

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 3.33.13 PM

Staggerlee The historical “Stagger Lee” was Lee Shelton, a famed African-American pimp living in St. Louis, Missouri in the late 19th century. Tales of his crimes entered into American folklore and became the subject of songs and toasts. (62)

Daniel … the Lion’s Den a Biblical allusion to the Book of Daniel, Chapter 6, in the Old Testament. It tells the story of Daniel, who was put to the test, but survived an entire night alone in a den full of lions through his continual praise, strong faith, and devotion to God. (63)

 Rockefeller John D. Rockefeller had a long and controversial career in the oil industry followed by a long career in philanthropy. He is perhaps most often remembered for the raw size of his wealth – an estimated $200 million in 1902. Calling someone a Rockefeller is synonymous with saying they are incredibly wealthy. (91)

Patchneck Red a notorious gambler and hustler, well known in Pittsburgh. (100)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s