A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 23, 2012
“Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses”

"Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses” (that is, subordinate Santa Clauses) is an annual Christmas pun that’s frequently included in Christmas joke collections. “Regards to Mrs. Santa Claus and all the subordinate Clauses” was cited in print in 1946. The joke has enjoyed wide popularity since the 1960s.

Google News Archive
24 December 1946, Kentucky New Era (Hopkinsville, KY), “Fire and fall back” by Joe Dorris, pg. 9, col. 1:
Regards to Mrs. Santa Claus and all the subordinate Clauses,
Coach Ralph Mills.

Google News Archive
16 December 1955, The Bulletin and Scots Pictorial (UK), “The Adventures of Timothy and Tansy,” pg. 7, cols. 3-4:
“You see, Santa Claus, who lives in the the log-cabin, is the principal Claus and we are the subordinate Clauses.”

24 December 1961, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Old San Nicholas” by Walter Trohan, pg. 3-A, col. 3:
Students at St. Stephen’s, a private preparatory school in Alexandria, Va., who take their English lessons seriously, have come up with an erudite definition for Santa’s little helpers. They’re “subordinate clauses,” they say.

14 November 1963, Rockford (IL) Register-Republic, “Elephant Jokes Big Nationally; Local Teens Say They’re Passe” by Gerrie Nosalik, pg. A15, col. 3:
For instance, “What are Santa’s helpers called?” The answer—“Subordinate Clauses.”

11 September 1964, State-Times (Baton Rouge, LA), “Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 8-C, col. 3:
An intrepid journalist named Manges paid a visit to Kris Kringle’s workshop at the North Pole recently, and promptly named old Santa’s helpers “Subordinate Clauses.”

Google News Archive
17 December 1967, Modesto (CA) Bee, “Here And There: Did Jolly Old Saint Nick Really Blitz Blitzen?” by Laurelei Mullen, pg. B4, col. 2:
Lots of subordinate clauses...the college crowd’s name for Santa’s helpers.

Google Books
Teachers Are Funny
By Hymen Alpern
London: Yoseloff
Pg. 46:
“Teacher, are Santa Claus’s helpers subordinate clauses?

7 April 1968, The Sun (Baltimore, MD), pg. M29:
HAVE you heard about the English teacher who regarded Santa’s helpers as a bunch of subordinate clauses?

Google News Archive
7 December 2001, The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), “Some Really Corny Jokes,” pg. D8, col. 5:
What do you call Santa’s helpers? Subordinate Clauses!

Google Books
The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said
By Robert Byrne
New York, NY: Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)
Subordinate clauses.
Answer to “What do you call Santa’s helpers?” —Don Wiles

Google Books
The Laugh-a-Day Book of Bloopers, Quotes & Good Clean Jokes
By Jim Kraus
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books
DAY 247:
Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.

The Frictionary
The Frictionary # 418
4100. Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Sunday, December 23, 2012 • Permalink