A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 25, 2016
Brooklyn Boys (delirium tremens)

“Brooklyn boys” is 19th century slang for delirium tremens (DTs). The term has been cited in print since at least 1883 and the exact meaning is unknown, but it probably refers to Brooklyn’s many breweries. There is no evidence that the term comes from Gaelic.
New York City-born playwright Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953)  included “Brooklyn boys” in his plays The Iceman Cometh (1939), Hughie (1942) and A Moon for the Misbegotten (1947).
Wikipedia: Delirium tremens
Delirium tremens (DTs) is a rapid onset of confusion usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol. When it occurs, it is often three days into the withdrawal symptoms and lasts for two to three days. People may also see or hear things other people do not. Physical effects may include shaking, shivering, irregular heart rate, and sweating. Occasionally, a very high body temperature or seizures may result in death. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from.
Society and culture
Nicknames include “the horrors”, “the shakes”, “the bottleache”, “quart mania”, “ork orks”, “gallon distemper”, “the zoots”, “barrel fever”, “the 750 itch”, “pint paralysis”, seeing pink elephants. Another nickname is “the Brooklyn Boys” found in Eugene O’Neill’s one-act play Hughie set In 1920’s Times Square.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
19 November 1883, Albany (NY) Morning Express, “Invisible Spirit of Wine,” pg. 1, col. 8:
Not so with the man of brains,—a drunk of that duration paralyzes his system; he is unable to eat or sleep, his nerves are unstrung and soon the “Brooklyn boys” are chasing him, in imagination, from pillar to pillar.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
13 November 1885, Port Chester (NY) Journal, pg. 3, col. 3:
Some call it an “hallucination,” but others less mincing in their language call it delirium tremens. No man will jump out of a two-story window—or attempt to do so—unless the “Brooklyn boys” are after hlm.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
23 December 1886, Port Chester (NY) Journal, pg. 1, col. 4:
“The Brooklyn Boys.”
He was therefore residing with his father, last Friday morning, when, seized with delirium tremens, he fled out of the house, as though the Furies were on his track.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
21 August 1888, Hudson (NY) Daily Evening Register, pg. 4, col. 3:
A Delirious Darkey.
Phiip Harder, the negro in jail, had a serious attack of the ‘Brooklyn boys,” or delirium tremens, last night.
29 December 1891, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “Treatment Given at the Home,” pg. 2, col. 2:
Let “pictures” appear on the walls; let “Brooklyn boys” torment the patient, no whisky will be given him to save his nerves.
3 May 1903, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Slang Phrases of St. Louis’ Big Fair,” pg. 2B, col. 3:
Brooklyn Boys—Delirium tremens, also known as snakes and D.T.s.
Google Books
A Moon for the Misbegotten
By Eugene O’Neill
New York, NY: Modern Library distributed by McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Pg. 375:
TYRONEi Nuts! The Brooklyn boys are talking again. I guess I’m more stewed than I thought—in the center of the old bean, at least.
Google Books
By Eugene O’Neill
New York, NY: Dramatists Play Service
Pg. 12:
The Brooklyn Boys march over the bridge with bloodhounds to hunt you down.
Google Books
The Iceman Cometh
By Eugene O’Neill
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Pg. ?:
You’ve told that story ten million times and if I have to hear it again, that’ll give me D.T.s anyway!
Gittin’ drunk every day for twenty years ain’t give you de Brooklyn boys. You needn’t be scared of me!
New York (NY) Times
Hey Sport! ​Know Your Old New York Slang?
Lingo of the 1920s is back on Broadway. Test your knowledge, with help from Forest Whitaker.
4 of 6
“Brooklyn Boys”
Origin: Appears to be derived from the Irish/Gaelic words brucht (belch), lionn (alcohol) and baithis (head).
I ain’t worried. Just moaning low. Hell, who don’t when they’re getting over a drunk? You know how it is. The Brooklyn Boys march over the bridge with bloodhounds to hunt you down.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • Thursday, February 25, 2016 • Permalink

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