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 March 03, 2005
“The Hawk” or “Hawkins” (strong cold winter wind)
Chicago's wind is called "Hawkins," or "The Hawk." The origin of the name is a mystery, but one thing is certain: it didn't originate in Chicago.

Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang
Volume II, H-O
by J. E. Lighter
New York: Random House
Pg. 48:
Hawkins v. [orig. unkn.] Black E. 1. keen winds or bitter weather. Also Mister Hawkins.

Dictionary of American Regional English
Volume II, D-H
Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press
Pg. 925:
hawk n
1. also with the; also Hawkins; The wind, esp. that of winter; cold weather; winter. chiefly Chicago IL chiefly among Black speaker

HDAS and DARE citations:
1934 Baltimore Sun Dec. 21) 14: Hawkins is outside (is coming). [HDAS}
1944 Burley Hndbk. Harlem Jive 25: I tossed and rolled./Trying to collar a wink as Hawkins blew cold. Ibid. 26: Mister Hawkins flapped it round like a hothouse fan. Ibid. 140: Hawkins:...Cold winter wind. [HDAS]
1946 (1972) Mezzrow-Wolde Really Blues 333 IL Hawk: winter. Hawk's out with his axe: it's freezing weather. [DARE}
1946 Boulware Jive & Slang 4: Hawkins...Cold weather. [HDAS]
1958 Hughes & Bontemps Negro Folklore 484: Hawkins: The wind, wintertime, cold weather, ice, snow. In February, Hawkins talks. [HDAS] [DARE]
1964 R. S. Gold Jazz Lexicon 141: According to jazzmen, Hawkins has been current esp. among black jazzmen since c1900, hawk since c1935. [HDAS]
1966 Lou Rawls "Live" (Phonodisc) Chicago IL, In the wintertime when it's very, very cold...when it's around ten above zero and it's about twelve inches of snow outside, and the hawk, I'm speakin' of the almighty hawk, Mr. Wind, when he blows down the street around 35, 40 miles an hour it's just like a giant razorblade blowin' down the street, and all the clothes in the world can't help you. [DARE]
1970 DARE (Qu. B18...Kinds of wind) Infs IL137, Hawk...IL139, The hawk. [Both Infs Black, both from Chicago IL] {DARE]
1972 Claerdaut Black Jargon 68, Hawk...the wind: The hawk is strong tonight. [DARE}
1972 DARE File Chicago IL [Black]. The hawk - cold weather, esp. with strong cold winds. The hawk is coming. [DARE}
1977 Smitherman Talkin 67 [Black}. Ashy refers to the whitish cvoloration of black skin due to exposure to the Hawk (cold and wind). [DARE]

3 January 1877, Chester (PA) Daily Times, pg. 3, col. 2:
"When Dat Soup House Start."
Yesterday, while walking along Third street, we met that well-known colored man Minus, and saluted him with the time of day, adding that Hawkins was out pretty strong to-day.

25 January 1877, Chester (PA) Daily Times, "Domestic Olapod," pg. 4, col. 1:
"Hawkins" has made his appearance again.

10 March 1877, Chester (PA) Daily Times, "Locals," pg. 1, col. 2:
Hawkins was out last night in full force.

7 November 1877, Evening Dispatch (York, PA), "Local Department," pg. 4, col. 1:
"Old Hawkins" as cold weather is familiarly called, seems to be around.

9 November 1877, Chester (PA) Daily Times, pg. 3, col. 4:
HOW THEY MISSED IT. -- Last night everybody reporters met on the streets had something to say about the heavy storm, and all predicted a snapping cold day. One man rubbed his hands and said: "I tell you now this wind is going to hop out nor'-west, and set old Hawkins a-howling round here in the morning."

12 December 1877, Chester (PA) Daily Times, "Local Intelligence," pg. 5, col. 1:
Old Hawkins has been merciful to the poor thus far this winter.

16 December 1879, Chester (PA) Daily Times, "The Fourth Street Cadets," pg. 3, col. 3:
Most of the boys have nothing but dusters, and as old Hawkins was pretty strong this morning they concluded not to turn out.

4 November 1881, Chester (PA) Daily Times, "Squibs," pg. 3, col. 1:
Old Hawkins was around last night, and blew away the close, murky weather we have had for the past week.

15 November 1881, Chester (PA) Daily Times, "Squibs," pg. 3, col. 1:
Old Hawkins arrived in the night in his customary blustry way, and he is blowing the coal piles up the chimney this morning.

11 October 1884, The State Journal (Harrisburg, PA), pg. 4, col. 1:
Jack Frost has gently reminded us that old Hawkins is not far distant.

13 November 1885, Public Opinion (Chambersburg, PA), "Home Happenings," pg. 3, col. 2:
THE MOST PLEASANT PERIOD OF THE YEAR. (...) Let us make the most of it while it is here, for it will not last long, and the chilly blasts of "Old Hawkins" will soon be blowing at our doors.

29 October 1886, Public Opinion (Chambersburg, PA), pg. 3, col. 6 ad:
Visit of Old 'Hawkins,"
(P. H. Peiffer's Factory for wagons and carriages. -- ed.)

21 November 1893, Franklin Repository (Chambersburg, PA), pg. 4, col. 2:
A Heavy Snow.
About the time REPOSITORY got its telegraphic weather-report this morning came a message from Hagerstown saying that a very heavy snow-storm was on the south of them and was blocking the N. & W. R. R. Soon afterward we heard Hagerstown was in the storm and then just before noon the flakes began coming down here and continued steadily until at 3:30 several inches were on the ground and it still a-coming. "Old Mrs. Hawkins" is here of a verity.

7 October 1895, The Morning Times (Washington, DC), pg. 7, col. 4 ad:
OLE MAN HAWKINS is almost here. Get ready for him by coming to us for an elegant custom-made suit or overcoat, "the least bit worn," at prices without a precedent. JUSTH'S OLD STAND, 619 D st. nw.

30 September 1896, The Morning Times (Washington, DC), pg. 6, col. 7 ad:
LOOK out for Hawkins, he is coming, the only way to avoid him is to have one of our fine custom-made suits or overcoats; the least bit worn; at prices that will surprise you. JUSTH'S OLD STAND, 619 D st. nw.

30 September 1905, The Daily News (Frederick, MD), "Our Market Gossip," pg. 4, col. 3:
The appearance of the chestnut makes you realize that old Hawkins will soon be coming over the mountain -- possibly on the Wabash or some other road.

21 October 1905, The Daily News (Frederick, MD), "Our Market Gossip," pg. 6, col. 4:
Butter and eggs are steadily making their way to the twenty five cent price everywhere. Of course, this is due to Old Hawkins peeping his head over the observatory at Braddock Heights.

28 February 1906, Washington (DC) Times, pg. 9, col. 2:
Most Lamblike Entry Predicted for March.
Wind and Cold to Leave Washington Tonight.

Hawkins Howled Last Night.
Not content with sending a good old-time snowstorm, the Weather Bureau set the wind machinery in motion, and by 9 oclock last night old Hawkins was howling like a good fellow. He roared and tore up and down the streets and made more fuss than a steam engine at full speed. Flags on top of buildings were beaten about in great shape, and in spite of his strenuous performance through the night, Hawkins' energy is not yet spent.

3 December 1912, Chester (PA) Times, pg. 5, col. 3 ad:
Hawkins is coming. Who is Hawkin's? Jack frost is Hawkins, and you better order your tombstone before he gets too deep in the ground.
(D. H. Burns. -- ed.)

4 March 1916, The Daily News (Frederick, MD), pg. 6, col. 4:
Few Dealers and Patrons on Market -- Prices Are High.
"Old Hawkins" caused the attendance at the base of supplies to be rather slim this morning.

2 March 1919, Washington (DC) Herald, pg. 6, col. 2:
Well! well! well! It's an ill wind that blows no good, and Tuesday was no exception, as Old Man Hawkins blew into the hall -- that old-young patriarch, the father of Clarendon.

17 October 1919, The Daily News (Frederick, MD), pg. 5, col. 3:
Frost Due Tonight If Chilly Winds Abate -- But Be Saving With Those "Diamonds" in the Cellar.
"Hawkins is coming over the mountains, and real Fall is here at last.

29 October 1922, Washington (DC) Times, "Washington Has Reason to Be Proud of Comfortable Haven for Outcast Beasts at Animal Rescue League" by Harry Shreve, pg. 7, col. 1:
There's a chill in the air that announces old man Hawkins is just around the corner and coming fast.

21 December 1934, Baltimore (MD) Sun, "Down the Spillway" by John O'Ren, pg. 14, col. 7:
NEITHER friend nor stranger is safe from my inquiries since I first embarked on the enterprise of ferreting out the derivation of "Hawkins," meaning a bitter wind, something disagreeable, or a bogeyman, as defined by our cook.

While my efforts thus far have been marked by a signal lack of success, a friend the other day contributed an interesting analogy. I was telling him of my theory that "Hawkins" is descended in its present form from the name of Sir John Hawkins, British admiral and slave trader--due, no doubt, to the fear he inspired among the Negroes with whom he dealt. My friend countered this by telling me of the use of Oliver Cromwell's name today in Ireland.

The dictator and his cropheads, not content with terrorizing the cavaliers, so conducted themselves among the Irish that even to this day his name is anathema to any true son of Erin. Hence, when some child has been particularly naughty, so says my friend, its nurse will bring it to time with the threat: "Oliver Cromwell will get you if you don't behave."

27 December 1934, Baltimore (MD) Sun, "Down the Spillway" by John O'Ren, pg. 10, col. 7:
Dear Spillway:
I have a very faint gleam of light to throw on the darkness of the saying "Hawkin's (sic) is outside" when the wind is biting cold. My young colored cook says that her old father always used the expression when he was alive, and that her mother thinks he meant that there was a mean old man going by. Why not your British slave trader?
Baltimore, Dec. 24.

IT LOOKS as though we were on the right track, or, as the youngsters say, a "hot trail."

5 January 1935, Baltimore (MD) Sun, "Down the Spillway" by John O'Ren, pg. 10, col. 7:
Dear Spillway:
I am a little late telling you what I know about Hawkins, but Christmas and one thing and another delayed me.

I remember, as a small child, hearinf adult members of my family--of Virginia stock for many generations--say on a day when the wind was particularly high and cold, "Hawkins is certainly out today." I have heard similar expressions from Negroes, but I have never had the impression that Hawkins was of African origin. It was my idea that the darkies had borrowed him from the whites.

This idea is strengthened by what my wife tells me. She is English, and spent her early years in Devonshire and South Wales, and she says that Hawkins was frequently mentioned there when the wind was especially nippy.

But who Hawkins is and why he should be the personification of a sharp and cutting wind, neither she nor I, nor anyone else I have talked to, has any explanation whatever. I hope your researches may discover the answer. At least the gentleman seems to be widely, if rather unfavorably, known.
W. G. M.
Norfolk, Va., Dec. 31, 1934.

8 January 1935, Baltimore (MD) Sun, "Down the Spillway" by John O'Ren, pg. 10, col. 7:
Dear Spillway:
In the interest of the advancement of science, I recently asked a venerable Negro named Clarence Thomas whether he had ever heard the expression "Hawkins is outside."

He replied in the affirmative and said that his old father had frequently used this quaint expression to indicate that the weather was inclement, cold and windy. I then asked him what his notion was as to the etiology of this bit of folklore. He replied that he did not know.

I beg to remain, sir, your obedient servant, always willing to aid in the advancement of the sum total of human knowledge.
Baltimore, January 6.

I'LL BET he said: "Etiology, Marse Scientist? Etiology? That's sumpin' we all just ain't studyin' a-tall!"

9 January 1935, Baltimore (MD) Sun, "Down the Spillway" by John O'Ren, pg. 10, col. 7:
Dear Spillway:
In the long, long ago when I was an apprentice on an Eastindiaman -- we spelled it that way then; it was in the late eighties -- I used to hear great yarns about a famous Pirate Hawkins, a native of Penzance, Cornwall, England, from our old sailmaker, who also said Hawkins was an ancestor of his. Hawkins always chose the worst of weather to make his raids in the English Channel and about the Cornish coast. Thus, I expect, he became a second Flying Dutchman to the weather-wise. I began my sea life in 1889 and ended it in 1920. Happy New Year!
Colonial Beach, Va., Jan. 6.

WELL, the consensus is -- whatever the Research Department may ultimately report -- that Hawkins was a devil of a fellow, and again I am disposed to offer my apologies to the most excellent members of his family for ever bringing up the subject.

24 October 1936, Chicago (IL) Defender, "Bronzeville in Chicago" by James J. Gentry, pg. 20:
And these cold mornings are on us -- in other words "Hawkins" has got us. Many of us didn't have time to think about our "kivvers," for "Hawkins" sneaked upon us overnight.Some smarty has launched a smart number titled, "When Winter Comes, Will You Be Ready?"

2 December 1939, New York (NY) Amsterdam News, "Backdoor Stuff" by Dan Burley, pg. 20:
PEOPLE ARE FUNNY. They rip and run to a scene of violence as though their very lives depended on being there first. 'Twas early Tuesday morning a week ago and the icy wind whispered evilly: "I am Mister Hawkins. Have you got it? I am Mister Hawkins. Have you got it?" A lot of folks out that time of the morning were answering in the negative as the icy wind blew more convincingly and searched beneath summer underwear for cringing flesh with frozen fingers that numbed at the touch.
And in going to town his fingers ripped the red dress from the neck to the hem and the icy wind growled: "Bewate of tempting me. I am Mister Hawkins."

18 October 1941, New York (NY) Amsterdam News, "Back Door Stuff" by Dan Burley, pg. 14:
LATEST reports are that there's a scuffle and a shuffle on the part of the playboys to trade in their Cadillacs for overcoats since Mister Hawkins (the wind, to you) started blowing so strong the past few days.

15 January 1944, New York (NY) Amsterdam New, "Dan Burley's Back Door Stuff," pg. 10A:
And there were the Homeys, who during the heavy heat stretch, put it down in the surf or on the turf, with those flimsy drapes and Big Apple capes, who are now shaking and quaking as Hawkins asks each and every livin', "ole man where's your benny?"
A benny is an overcoat and Hawkins is without question, the cold winter wind.

30 September 1944, New York (NY) Amsterdam News, "Dan Burley's Back Door Stuff," pg. A14:
BACK DOOR WEEKLY CLOTHESLINE: That wind, old man, is Mister Hawkins asking: "Hey, boy, where IS your overcoat?"

30 November 1946, The New Yorker, pg. 75:
(Pg. 78, col. 2 - ed.)
"Hawkins is inside tonight," she said. "I only got five shots."

"It's still early," Miss Palmer said.

"Who's Hawkins?" I asked.

"Oh, that's just an expression that means things are bad," Miss Cook said. "I picked it up from the musicians. There used to be an amateur drummer down in Washington named Hawkins who was always getting some band to let him sit in with them. He was so terrible that when everything was going wronf in the joint the musicians got to saying that Hawkins was inside. When things were jumping, they'd say Hawkins was outside. Well, so far as I'm concerned, he's inside every place on the Street tonight."

20 November 1952, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, pg. A1:
As they came to the door, there was an outburst of jazz music. Outside the Jimmy Walker band was playing Bellson's song, "The Hawk Talks."

23 September 1956, New York (NY) Times, pg. 138:
COLEMAN HAWKINS: The Hawk Talks (Decca). The elder statesman of the tenor saxophone is plagued by strings and steel guitars throughout most of this disk, but he manages to break through occasionally with some of his customary strong, striking statements.

American Negro Folklore
By J. Mason Brewer
Chicago, IL: Quadrangle Books
Pg. 304 (Cold Weather Signs):
If turkeys roost high in a tree, it's a sign of cold weather. You will hear the old folks say, "Look out, children. Hawkins is coming."

7 January 1973, New York (NY) Times, pg. 159:
The sun isn't up yet and the "Hawk," Chicago's cruel wind, lashes down on the thousands of workers huddling at bus stops.

19 February 1989, New York (NY) Times, pg. SM34:
IN THE SOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO, in the lobby of a former union hall, there hangs an old photograph. Striking stockyard workers, blacks and whites, are huddled together for solidarity, and perhaps for warmth, against the fierce winter wind that whips off Lake Michigan, an infamous gale known here as "The Hawk." Across the photograph is emblazoned the slogan, "Negro and White - Unite to Fight!"

15 July 1997, New York (NY) Times, pg. A10:
But not even the infamous winter wind, known here as The Hawk, appears likely to chill the property market here.

Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request.mov
Oct 22, 2011
(By Steve Goodman, 1948-1984. The lyrics and story behind the song can be found at Baseball Almanac. -- ed.)
A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request
by Steve Goodman (1983)

By the shore's of old Lake Michigan
Where the "hawk wind" blows so cold
An old Cub fan lay dying
In his midnight hour that tolled ...

Lou Rawls Dead end street live 1967
Dec 1, 2015
Mauro Groove Zanchetta
(Genius.com lyrics. The song won Lou Rawls the 1967 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance. Songwriters: Sly Dunbar / Ewart Everton Brown / Herbert Harris / N. Barnett / Clifton Dillon / B. Jordan / R. Shaw. -- ed.)
Dead End Street
Lou Rawls
Album The Essential Lou Rawls

I was born in a city the called the Windy City
And they called it the Windy City because of the Hawk
The hawk. The all mighty Hawk
Mr. Wind
Takes care of plenty business around winter time
Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesWindy City, Second City, Chi-Town (Chicago nicknames) • Thursday, March 03, 2005 • Permalink

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