By Karin Carlson
One small obstacle that I encountered as I went through the WCVB film and assignment sheets was terminology, and speaking to other archivists around the country who work with news film I found that this can be a common problem. First there are unfamiliar industry related news terms. These are a little confusing when you first start with a collection, but are pretty universal and can be interpreted with a little research. For example, it took me a little while to realize that “NC” is short for “News Conference.” There are also film related terms like cuts (for outtakes) or track (for soundtrack), which I was already familiar with, but are still universal terms easily deciphered. The things that can be a little more difficult to figure out are the regional expressions and vocabularies that are local only to a particular station.
An example of station specific terms that we encountered was found in the assignment sheets. When the interns at WGBH went through and originally cataloged the assignment sheets they deciphered that names like Bee and Zebra at the end of the story were code names for the camera team that would be assigned that story. I also encountered a slightly different problem with language that was station specific. I misinterpreted “Day” for awhile before I recognized that it usually referred to the reporter Joe Day and was not part of the title (as in “Marathon Losers Day”) nor was it a reference to when the footage was shot (Day vs. night). Not being from this region (I am originally from Wisconsin) I found some of the local Boston slang a little hard to understand. The newsmen occasionally write in a phonetic Boston accent that I could not decipher until I read it out loud. Phrases like “Aht in the Pahk” looked like gibberish when I saw it written on a film reel, but made sense when I pronounced it. I was also a little confused when people were referred to as “Beans” in the assignment sheets.
One thing I still haven’t figured out is the use of “yummies” in the assignment sheets. I’m not sure if this is local Boston slang (though asking around makes me think that it isn’t) or more specifically a term used within the station or maybe just slang from the time period. At first I thought it referred to criminals since it is often used when referencing prisoners or bank robbers. For example “Needham Jewelry Holdup - Definitely not a biggie. However, it made a lot of noise on the radios for a while. 2 yummies, one with a potbelly and a moustache over his lip (that what he said) held up the Needham Jewelry Co.” Then I thought that it might be like “dummies.” For example, “The warm blood yummies at "L" street go swimming in 33 degree water and mid-teen air temps.” Or “Balloonist news conference - The 2 yummies that tried to go up last year will try again, this time from Maine.” But then descriptions like, “Lunchtime Theater - Yummies brown bag it while watching a play at the Boston Arts Group Theatre” made me question my previous definitions. Judging from the usual tone of the assignment sheets and slugs I assume that this is probably an “un-PC” term, but I am still curious about its meaning. Anyone out there heard this before?