A few weeks ago, I received an email message from a complete stranger asking for help finding the source of a “NEPA” saying. I figured that I would be able to easily find the saying in the CoalSpeak Dictionary, but that wasn’t the case. Really wanting to help out the guy, I turned to social media to (hopefully) find my answer. Here’s the original email message:
Greetings from North Dakota!
My wife grew up in Wilkes-Barre (1956-1974). When her mother felt flustered, she might say that she felt like she was going to “fly to Jaboobia” (spelling conjectural).
Over the years we’ve wondered where on earth that expression came from. It didn’t seem likely that my wife’s mom would have invented it. Was it perhaps from a movie? Was it an expression used by other people in Wilkes-Barre? (Mom lived all her life in Wilkes-Barre and rarely got farther away than neighboring communities.)
I wondered if you, or contacts whom you may have, know the origin of “I felt like I was going to fly to Jaboobia!” as an expression to use when it was all getting to be too much.
(Mr.) Dale Nelson Associate Professor of English Mayville (ND) State University
So what exactly does “fly to Jaboobia” mean? To the Interwebs, Batman!
I posted the email message to the “You know you’re from NEPA (Wyoming Valley, Wilkes-Barre)when..” group on Facebook to see if anyone had the answer to Mr. Nelson’s question. Much to my surprise, I received 10 likes and 31 comments to my posting! Here are some of the more popular ones…
Other variations that were offered up include: zaboodie, lower japricka, zababoonie, Jaboobiland, and Jaboogy Beach. It seems as though every family had a different variation of the word, but essentially they all translate to the same thing….a place far far away. Although no one was quite sure of the exact origin, the most likely explanation was based on old radio shows, comic strips, a location in Africa or a placeholder name. This doesn’t exactly answer Mr. Nelson’s question, but it should get him started on the right path.
Did your Mom ever want to send you to a real or imaginary place far far away and if so, what did she call it? Leave me a message in the comments!