Art Babbitt’s Guide to Spanish

Art Babbitt 1941

Art Babbitt in mid-1941

In January 1942, Art Babbitt went on a solo voyage to South America, probably to clear his head.

It was on the heels of the famed Disney Strike.  Art just vilified his boss in front of a global audience.  It was Law vs. Public Opinion, and Art Babbitt sided with legality.

With the strike settled but his law suits not (more on this later), Art drove from Hollywood to New York, and from there took a ship to South America.  He spent nearly three months there, keeping a daily diary that shows his highs of travel and his lows of anxious doubt.  What’s more, Art took this trip mere months after Walt took his South America good-neighbor tour, and encountered some of the same people Walt did.

More diary stuff will be to come, but I thought I would whet your appetite with an entry detailing Art’s wit as he attempts to grasp a foreign language.  (Scroll to the bottom to read a more legible transcription)

March 26, 1942

[…] he’d cut a slit in the crotch of the girdle. The girl was of course terribly surprised when he gained entry.

I’ve been thinking of my Spanish that I’m rapidly forgetting and how I’d learn words by association – for example:

“Gustar” means “to enjoy” and “gastar” is “to spend.” I say to myself that in order to “gustar” one must “gastar”.

“Apenas” means “hardly”.  I think of “hard” which recalls “penis” and there I have it.

“Rincon” means corner – so I think of Billy Sundaya revival meetings and our profane version of “Brighten the Corner Where you are.” We sang it “Right in the corner – where you are”.

“Consado” means “tired” and “cassado” means “married” — the connection is obvious.

“Acostarsé” means “to go to bed” – the connection is somewhat remote but I think of “accost” – and what follows may be “acostarse”.

I don’t indulge in dirty jokes so I get my vicarious pleasure by learning my Spanish vocabulary.

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2 Responses to Art Babbitt’s Guide to Spanish

  1. Michele Kane says:

    Say, Jake, any idea who was with my dad who gained entry to the girdle? Art’s speaking in the third person. It appears that he just appreciated someone else’s drive and creativity.

    • Art Babbitt says:

      He writes, “I happen to recall the ingenuity of T__. He was the owner of a riding academy and sometimes he didn’t want to ride horses. – but a woman in riding breeches presents a problem when they’re unwilling to go the limit.” I’ll have to post that entry eventually.

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