By Ben Welter
This likely apocryphal slice of life about a slice of pie deserves a better headline than the one served up by the Minneapolis Daily Star. Can you top it?
One Indian Word
A new waiter came to the White Bus restaurant in Onamia, Minn., today. He was unacquainted with the Chippewa Indian language and was at a loss to understand the strange noises Indians made when they ordered dinner.
John Mah-gua, from the Mille Lacs lake reservation, came into the restaurant with a hunger for pie. When the new waiter heard the order he felt that it was too big for his restaurant to fill.
|A woman with a prize-winning pie — and a prize-worthy frock — in 1926. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
John asked for Mus-ke-Me-man-Bash-ski-me-ne-se-gan-be-tow-see-chi-gan-Bah-gway-zhe-gan. The new waiter caught his head in his hands and ran out to the kitchen to recuperate.
Then he called up H.D. Ayer at the Mille Lacs Trading Post and tried to repeat what the Indian had said.
“Send the Indian to the telephone, then I’ll tell you what it is he wants,” said Mr. Ayer.
“John Mah-gua want Musk-ke-ge-Me-man-Bash-ski-me-ne-se-gan-BeTow-see-chi-gan-Bah-gway-zhe-gan,” said the Indian. “
“Give him a slice of cranberry pie,” Mr. Ayer told the waiter, who was on the point of hysterics.
After his experience the new waiter declared that he would learn the pronunciation of that word if it killed him.
Here is the explanation: Mus-ke-ge-Me-Man means berry or bog berry; Bash-ski-me-ne-se-gan means jam; Be-tow-see-chi-gan means between two layers, and Bah-gway-zhe-gan means flour, or bog berry jam between two layers of flour.