Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The 'King' and 'Little Egypt'

Josie Brooks, owner of the Book Emporium in Harrisburg, recently auctioned off on eBay a 12-year-old American Weekend section of the Daily Register that contained my cover story on how Southern Illinois became known as Egypt.

I saw the sale, bid on it and as I was just notified, lost. I didn't really need it but I haven't been able to find my copy the last time I looked. It really doesn't matter because the original article is posted here.

An expanded version of the story is posted on the wall in the basement of the SIU Student Center near the craft shop as part of a larger display on Southern Illinois and the Egypt theme.

The item on eBay led to a night of Internet surfing searching for Little Egypt references. Here's my favorite and it's also why Will Griffith, the late publsiher of the Egyptian Key magazine back in the 1940s disliked the name "Little Egypt" rather than just "Egypt".



Note: I realize that the Coasters released this song in 1961 and Elvis did it in 1964 in the movie "Roustabout", long after Griffith died, but Little Egypt the dancer had been around in one form or another since 1893. There was even a movie about the dancer titled "Little Egypt" in 1951.

For more on the dancers named Little Egypt, check out the Wikipedia article. It seems fairly accurate.

In the whole debate over Little Egypt versus Egypt, I prefer Egypt as the historical name for Southern Illinois, but Greater Egypt for modern usage.

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