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Sender: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2023 01:24:22 +0000
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Those who know me know how much I enjoy a research challenge like "sucking cane heads." I too thought first of canes made of sugar cane, but soon discarded that. Mature sugar cane is tall enough, about six feet, but it is too thick (about 2 inches in diameter) and not sturdy like bamboo. Caveat: It was occasionally sucked for a sucrose high, more or less like as today's caffeine energy drinks, but that purpose is clear when mentioned) I also thought of candy canes, which were first created over 350 years ago and was only seasonal after it became a popular Christmas Tree decoration in America in the early 1800s. After using the online free collection of over 200 million articles in 4,300+ newspaper titles to seek out some hundred or so newspaper mentions of the various forms of that phrase (suck his cane; sucking his cane; sucking their canes;  etc. etc.) I find it was exactly that, sucking the head of a cane. If you use some of those and other variations of the phrase on you will see what I mean, and why I conclude that they were indeed sucking the head of a walking stick cane. A strange fad which faded away in the 1890s, but no more nor less than that.    In a message dated 7/15/2023 7:21:04 AM Pacific Daylight Time, [log in to unmask] writes: 
I'm reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, in chapter 5 it read "...for they had stood in the vestibule sucking their cane heads, a circling wall of oiled and simpering admirers...", I don't quite understand what the young men are doing, is "sucking their cane heads " a metaphor? Can someone explain it?Tks