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Hi:

I just read your current issue while visiting San Diego, and there were some comments regarding the origin of the slang term "86," meaning to discard or get rid of something. I didn't see the original article, so forgive me if this was already mentioned. I recently visited New York City, and the small, colorful bar Chumley's in Greenwich Village also claims to have originated this term. Their address is 86 Bedford Street. Supposedly, during Prohibition, when they were a speakeasy and were raided by the police, the workers would sometimes yell out "86!" meaning to leave the bar via the 86 Bedford Street entrance. (There are about three entrances to the bar, plus a hidden exit.)

-- Tom Rombouts, Torrance

Aw, Tom, New Yorkers think they invented everything. Cute story, though. Just the kind of tidbit a "colorful" spot like Chumley's would lay on out-of-towners, along with the heavily salted peanuts. Maybe it's not so far-fetched, when you consider that the "official" explanation for 86 does involve short-order cooks and bartenders. If 86 was already in use at Chumley's, it might have made a handy substitute for "Cheese it! The cops!" But an orderly egress through the 86 Bedford door is unlikely. Once again, it sounds like coincidence. Thanks for the contribution. We'll add it to the list of speculations about the origin of "86," though I'm about 85 1/2 on the whole subject at this point.

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