Skip to comments.Travelers...who, what and where are they?
Posted on 09/21/2002 8:52:13 PM PDT by Conservababe
Since the news and tape of Madelyne Gorman/Toogood's beating of her child has been made public, there seems to be much interest in posters that the mother was an Irish Traveler. I, myself, have done searches on the net to learn more of the Travelers or Gypsies in the USA. I have not found anything that is more interesting than that of the posters who have given their individual experiences with these people. But, it is so much fragmented in many threads. I am hoping that by starting this thread, Freepers can relate their experiences and knowlege of these people, the Travelers. I wish it not to discuss the mother or her actions, necessarily, but to discuss the nature of the clan or cult or whatever or whoever is the Travelers.
The police look on them with extreme disfavor around here. They blow in en masse about once every five years or so, scam whoever they can and disappear without a trace...
KSU 27 USC 20 :-(
I've read they date back to the Williamson clan, a huge extended family that travels almost continuously doing various temporary work that sometimes results in scams.
I am wondering how Travelers can be nomadic in their SUVS, really. I mean, this is the modern world and they do not drive buggies as the Amish.
Okay, so I have seen posted on another thread (remember, I am trying to tie this fragmented information of Travelers together on one thread) that Travelers try to marry off their young at an early age in order to bring more of their own from overseas legally.
Etymologies & Word Origins:
Not worth a tinker's damn is a phrase that is often uttered, although most people who say it nowadays have no idea what a tinker is. There is also considerable confusion over the word damn in this phrase, which is often spelled dam.
A tinker was an itinerant tradesman who mended pots and pans. The name could derive from either the sound of a bell that the tinker rang to announce he was in the neighborhood (perhaps the name Tinkerbell from Peter Pan is an allusion to this practice), or it could be an onomatopoeic phrase for the tinking sound he made as he worked on the pots and pans. This explanation first appeared in 1440, and Samuel Johnson in his 1755 dictionary agreed with it.
Many etymologists agree with Dr. Johnson, but there are those who disagree as well. The earliest cite in the The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition (OED2), dates from 1265 and is a surname: "Editha le Tynekere." This one is also of interest because it refers to a trades woman not a man. Other sources date the surname Tynker as early as 1252, and the Scottish form, tinkler dates to 1175. The verb to tink meaning to mend a pot dates only to the fifteenth century, and the words tink and tinkle, referring to the bell or metallic sound, date only to Wyclif's translation of the Bible in 1382, 1 Cor 8:1:
"I am maad as bras sownnynge or a symbal tynkynge."
Presumably the verb would have come first, but it could have existed outside the surviving literature or it could be a backformation from tinker.
It is very possible, and perhaps probable, that the word comes from the word tin, the material with which the tinker worked.
But what about the damn? Some say that it should be spelled dam because it is not a curse, but rather a term for a method used in mending pots. The tinker would use a piece of bread, or other soft material, to plug the hole he was mending to prevent his solder from flowing all over and escaping. This dam was worthless after the pot was mended, and was discarded. Therefore, a tinker's dam was a worthless bit of detritus. Brewer's notes this explanation, but does not take a position. The OED2 calls this a "baseless conjecture."
This explanation seems strained. Also, Hugh Rawson (A Dictionary of Euphemisms & Other Doubletalk) notes that the earliest use of the spelling dam in the phrase dates only to 1877, while the phrase tinker's damn was used in 1839 by Thoreau, and the OED2 cites usage of tinker's curse as early as 1824. Dam is probably a Victorian bowdlerization, and the explanation followed to justify it.
Similarly, some have suggested that the dam is a reference to the tinker's horse, usually a worthless nag. Not only does this explanation share the problem with dates, but dam does not mean horse; it means mother. A horse has a sire and a dam - -a father and a mother.
The origin of the phrase is most likely the simplest explanation. Tinkers had a reputation for cursing, and a tinker's damn was not worth much because tinkers damned everything.
© 1997-2000, by David Wilton. All rights reserved
BTW, someone mentioned 60 Minutes did a piece on this group a few years ago and I saw it, too. As much as I dislike 60 Minutes, I tend to believe that expose, and if I saw a Traveler coming toward me, I would give a very big tinker's damn about it, and run as fast as I could in the opposite direction.
Police Officers who investigate home repair scams typically encounter "American Gypsies" also called "Travelers", and "Rom Gypsies". Travelers are made up of three groups of Travelers, English, Scotch, and Irish. The English Travelers, especially the Boswells, Coopers, and Stanleys, , actually call themselves Gypsies. Other English Travelers go by the names of Small, Oaks, Harrison, and Herrin. Irish Travelers use Sherlock, Gorman, and Donahue, while Scotch use Williamson, Galvin, Haliday, Keith, Parks, and Holden. Although little is known about the Traveler's history, they all speak in a "cant", a secret language among each other. They have been labeled Gypsies or Travelers primarily because they travel as families and groups and because of their nomadic ways.
Asphalt Driveway Sealing/Paving: Most of the victims are approached through door to door contacts. The suspicious person will offer to fix the driveway but the final price will not be what was agreed on. The Asphalt mixture will soon crumble. The sealant will give it a white appearance that washes off with the first rain. The check given for payment will be immediately cashed. Often the suspect will steal any written contract back after the victim lays it down so there will not be anything to show the police.
Roof Sealing/Fix Shingles/ Leaks: Victims are approached through door to door contacts. Travelers do have regular customers who get their roof sprayed every year and never realize they have been swindled. The substance sprayed on the roof may be oil, motor oil, or gasoline mixed with silver paint, or even regular latex paint. The substance is not a fire retardant, will not prolong the life of the roof, will not seal down the shingles, and will not fix any leaks. The Travelers are as a rule very neat and clean and maintain their equipment.
Home Invasion/Burglary: While engaged in a home repair scam, the victim's attention is distracted and an accomplice will steal valuables out of the house. The victim may not miss the items for several days. It is not uncommon for the victims to lose more in the burglary than in the home repair scam.
House Painting: The painting is shoddy with paint that is cheap and thinned down.
Alert: Asphalt, Roofing, and Painting Travelers- The Travelers come to our area every year in the spring and summer. They will come to your door and tell you they have a load of hot asphalt left over from a job. They may say they are in the area doing painting or roofing and you must act quickly to get this special offer or special price. These people often contact senior citizens and can be very intimidating. They will request cash or will offer to take the senior to the bank to get the money. If a personal check is taken, the check will be cashed at your bank within the hour. The work will be of very poor quality including, thinned down paint or an inadequate amount of asphalt to do the job properly. Travelers always have new trucks and equipment with out of state vehicle tags. Often they will have no business markings or will give you an out of state business address or phone numbers. Don't be pressured. Ask for references, verify workman's compensation insurance, required permits from regional building, call the Better Business Bureau, but above all, don't pay in advance and don't pay more than the agreed upon price. Pay only after the work has passed an inspection. If you think you are dealing with a group of Travelers call your local police department so these people can be checked out.
Their lavish lifestyle is paid for with proceeds from their crimes. In this case, crime does appear to pay. I hope this latest story about child abuse puts a whole lot more heat on this group, and on the INS for opening the doors to them.
BTW, did I mention that I love the Irish?
The Irish Travelers speak Shelta.
There is another class of scam artists known as travelers. Scott said travelers basically perform the same acts as gypsies but are more organized.
In the spring, the travelers leave Murphys Village in North Augusta, Ga., and travel around the country posing as home repairmen or government officials.
Kayes added that there are other groups in South Carolina and Tennessee. He also said there are groups in the Chicago suburbs, and even one that used to be DeKalb, but that was several years ago.
Gypsies and travelers are difficult to catch because they are nomadic and have perfected their scamming techniques, Kayes said.
When they steal, they sometimes put it in the mail, Kayes said. If they are stopped later, they can say they dont have anything.
In the rare chance that a gypsy or traveler is arrested, they will do anything to stay out of jail, including offering to pay back what they stole.
If you steal from 10 people, and pay one back, then you really havent lost much, Kayes said.
"And the Tinker he can't mend kettle nor pot...
Without a little bar_ley___corn"
On another thread, I saw a post from Freeper (sorry that I cannot remember your name) that the gypsies were contracted by hire to make the nails that were to nail Jesus to the cross. This poster said that the gypies made all of them except the gold one that was meant to peirce Jesus heart. In a secret deal, they were told that if they forfeited and reniged on the deal...that they would have sanction from g-d that they could steal and theive forever, without guilt.
This has my interest.