Saturday, 30 May 2015

Eponym 4 - 'Tod'

‘Tod’ as in ‘to be on your tod’ means to be alone with no help or assistance from anyone. The word derives from James Forman ‘Tod’ Sloan who was born in 1874 in Indiana. His mother died when he was young and he went to live with another family on the instruction of his dad. He was a solitary child who found work on the oil fields and later as a stable hand in St Louis, where he lived with the horses. When he was eleven, he moved to Kansas City and within ten years he had become a very successful jockey, winning half of all races he entered.

In 1901 he came to England, installed as the Prince of Wales’ senior jockey and as you can imagine, he was surrounded by money, people and fame. 

However, the British Jockey Club resented Sloan who had an extroverted personality, and they persuaded the prince not to renew his contract. He became resented by both sides of the Atlantic, and although he had enough money to convert a small bistro in Paris (now Harry’s New York Bar), financial hardships forced him back to America where he lived the remainder of his life alone, dying of cirrhosis in 1933. But, Sloan’s life has never been forgotten. George M. Cohan’s endearing song ‘The Yankee Doddle Boy’ is based on the life of Sloan in England. His popularity ensured he entered Cockney rhyming slang – to be ‘all on your tod’ means to be ‘alone like Tod Sloan’. Interestingly, Sloan’s 1915 autobiography is titled ‘Tod Sloan by Himself’.

[courtesy of 'It's a Wonderful Word' by Albert Jack]

No comments:

Post a Comment