January 24, 2013

Voted The "Jiviest"

Voted The "Jiviest" 

Ralph Greenwood

adjective, jivier, jiviest. Slang.
resembling, suggesting, or characteristic of jive; lively. 

1940-45; jive + ey

The negative numbers on the thermometer could not keep me from visiting the library tonight. The Saratoga Room was open and I was still in hot pursuit of more signs from Clem. I did find signs but they were not from Clem they were from my father Ralph. 

I began the night looking through old Saratoga High School Recorders from the late 1930's and early 1940's. My hope was to find an ad for Clem Signs in the back of the year books. Many yearbook ads were from longtime city businesses. Since I had proof that Clem was listed as a sign painter in the 1940 Census I was hopeful to find an ad promoting his livelihood. I didn't find any such ad but as I thumbed through the 1942 yearbook I stumbled across an entire page listing the senior superlatives. Things like 'most likely to succeed' and 'most talkative' etc…There were male and female names for each superlative listed. What I saw in the middle of the page was my father's name, Ralph Greenwood. I never made the senior superlatives but apparently Ralph did. I expected to see him voted most talkative or nicest smile. I was stunned to see him voted, "Jiviest". Say what? Jiviest, what the heck is jiviest? Is it even a word? 

Apparently it is and apparently the word originated between 1940 and 1942. Is it possible that Ralph invented jivieness? After all he was the jiviest in 1942! I never knew. His sense of humor was legendary but his jivieness had been kept a secret for over seventy years. Although come to think of it, Ralph and Helen did tear it up when a jitterbug was cranked up loud and the beers were three or four deep on the bar. So that was my sign for today. It caught me like a high fastball and backed me right off the plate. An unexpected sign of jivey. A 1942 history lesson in library searches. But wait, don't run away too fast, a Walter 'Clem' Clements connection was not too far away. If you continue down the list you will see right below the 'Jiviest' is the 'Most Artistic'. I'll be a son-of-a-gun it's a Clements; Bill Clements. Was he related to Clem? Was he a brother or a cousin? Here we go again, another damn sign...


  1. How about that?! Very cool discovery. Also intrigued by the whole 'searching for Clem' journey.

  2. What a great adventure and such cool discoveries. Jiviest? To describe a parent? How cool is that?

  3. John,

    That was a most wonderful piece of information to find out about your own father...I guess you might well try to live out some of his words John, by holding a summer dance event, just in his memory...A Jive-Talkin event..Jive Talkin, a record by The Bee-Gees.:)

    Best Wishes,

  4. Your quest has already been full of surprises...none greater than this one! Mr. Greenwood must have been one cool dude. Diane

  5. Jiviest. LOVE it, how little we know our parents :) Keep up the detective work, I'm enjoying it.

  6. Life just keeps going round and round... and where it stops...

  7. "Clem" did the signs for my parents grocery store, Grasso's Grocery located at 46 West Circular Street. It is now Marino's Pizza. And isn't it amazing the things you'll find when you're not even looking for them. I agree, your dad was jiviest.