05 November 2009

Googies or Gypsies are Coming

For some reason, we have two copies of "Where the Sidewalk Ends" at our house. I think one was my wife's and one was mine. But anyway, I just noticed last night that in the newer one, the word Gypsy was changed to Googie. I don't know much about Shel Silverstein, but I am assuming that when he wrote the original in approximately 1974, that he was unaware of the Gypsie/Roma history of discrimination. I am pretty sure that the Googie change came before Silverstien died in 1999.

Gypsy first verse:

Googies first verse:

Googie Image. Maybe it was a good idea to change from Gypsy. The image is quite "Gypsy" looking:

The books are exactly the same, except the price on the earlier one was $9.95 and was published by Harper and Row, and the newer one is priced at $14.95 and published by Harper Collins. My earlier book is inscribed and dated Christmas 1980, but the later one has no obvious date.


Quimbob said...

I am sure Silverstein knew about gypsies of Romania. He was at least aware they were like, what, #2 on Hitler's extermination list. I would hope he was not the one to suggest the change.
I am not a parent but I would think that, by using gypsy or some other real ethnic group and absurd behavior, it would give the parent & child a good place to start a discussion of the goofy myths people start about cultures they find strange and frightening.
But I don't have kids, so I might be full of crap.

Julianne said...

Funny, I was thinking about the same topic recently.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that the poem was changed because of the negative/stereotypical image of Roma people. My memory tells me that there was an effort by Roma people in MN to ask S. Silverstein to change the poem, because of the effect that it had on their children. S.S. refused, but the publisher made the decision to change it.

lunargarden said...

I have wanted a first edition Where the Sidewalk Ends for some time. Both copies say 1974?? One says Copyright Shel Silverstein and one says copyright Evil Eye Music I assume.