Entry in progress—B.P.
Wikipedia: Cooter Brown
Cooter Brown, sometimes given as Cootie Brown, is a name used in metaphors and similes for drunkenness, mostly in the southern United States. Cooter Brown supposedly lived on the line which divided the North and South during the American Civil War, making him eligible for military draft by either side. He had family on both sides of the line, so he did not want to fight in the war. He decided to get drunk and stay drunk for the duration of the war so that he would be seen as useless for military purposes and would not be drafted. Ever since, colloquial and proverbial ratings of drunkenness have been benchmarked against the legendary drinker: “as drunk as Cooter Brown” or “drunker than Cooter Brown.”
A different source offers the following:
“This is an African American expression very familiar to the informant, who is from New Jersey. She says it is current and, so far as she knows, it ‘came up with the African Americans from the Carolinas.’ She thinks it probably derives from some proverbial drunkard.”
The Dictionary of American Regional English, Vol. I, A-C
Frederic G. Cassidy, ChiefEditor
Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Cooter Brown, drunk as adj phr Also drunk as Cooter, ~Cooty Brown chiefly Sth
1967-70 DARE (Qu. DD15, A person who is thoroughly drunk) Infs GA77, SC40, Drunk as Cooter; AL8, TX100, Drunk as Cooter Brown.
1970 DARE File, Drunk as Cooty Brown. This is a Black expression very familiar to the informant, who is from New Jersey. She says it is current and, so far as she know, it"came up with the Blacks from the Carolinas.” She thinks is probably derives from some proverbial drunkard.
23 February 1932, San Antonio (TX) Light, “Once Overs” by O. O. McIntyre, pg. 20, col. 7:
“Why you so-and-so, you’re drunk as a cootie right now.”
The Night Air
By Harrison Dowd
New York, NY: Dial Press
With Sam, drunk as a cootie.”
Simple Speaks His Mind
By Langston Hughes
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
“Another thing I have wondered is, who is Cootie Brown? Last Saturday night somebody said to me, ‘Man, you’re drunk as Cootie Brown.’”
“Which meant high as a Georgia pine.”
“I know what it meant, but I do not know who Cootie Brown was. Do you?”
“I guess he was just somebody who got pretty drunk all the time.”
6 March 1950, Racine (WI) Journal-Times, “Union Grove Man Accused In Arkansas Murder Case,” pg. 6, col. 2:
Mrs. Cox said the three were as “drunk as Cooter Browns” and that shortly after she got in the car, Betty and Butch argued and they slapped each other.
28 July 1953, State Times (Baton Rouge, LA), “Picturesque Comparisons Are Used For Colorful Speech of the Ozarks” by Vance Randolph with George P. Wilson, pg. 3A, col. 6:
In Washington County, Arkansas, people used to say drunker than Cooter Brown, but nobody seems to know who Cooter Brown was.
You All Spoken Here
By Roy Wilder, Jr.
New York, NY: Viking
Drunk as Cooter Brown: Someone who can’t hit the ground with his hat in three throws.
Gettin’ It On:
A Down-Home Treasury
By Lewis Grizzard
New York, NY: Galahad Books
The time has come to announce the winner of the First Annual Drunk-As-Cooter Brown Award. The award is named for the immortal Cooter Brown, who could get drunker than anybody.
More Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake A Stick At
By Anne Dingus
Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing
Drunk as Cooter Brown.
Waurika (OK) News-Democrat
May 8, 2009
Like it or not, Cooter’s a famous American
Although prohibitionists and teetotalers may blush and condemn him, Cooter Brown has become the colloquial and proverbial standard of drunkenness, and being “Cootered” has become a benchmark of inebriation.
In fact, I’ve sometimes wondered: What do you have to “blow” to be as “drunk as Cooter Brown”? Is there a demarcation on a breathalyzer that’s called “Cooter”?
Things Church Girls Don’t Talk About
By Susan Sieweke
Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse
“Justine…you’re as drunk as Cooter Brown.”