My father, Long John Herrick (1915-2011) loved cracking jokes with his 6 kids. He constantly wrote clever songs and invented pun puzzles. One of his favorite games was making puns out of world cities. His most famous wordplay, circa 1967, was “baby eschews the bottle.” This, of course, was Constantinople. This answer naturally elicited the shrieking declaration from his wife, Doris (1919- 2003), of “ESKIMO!” “Eskimo,” was my mother's response to anything remotely salacious. Doris was a devotee of the JUMBLE. To this day, I solve the Jumble daily and consider those guys as heroes.
Fast forward to 2012. My modern era hero Dan “The Stork” Roddick tells me that he has penned the ultimate Tom Swifty. He had. While the Eskimo quotient is high, the standard has been set. As DTSR put it, “once you’ve bowled 300, move on.” Naturally, he stopped trying to write a better Swifty (he has eclectic pursuits), and I chose to take up the challenge. I immediately began composing compound Swifties. Here was my first Swifty: "I really admire Aron Ralston," Tom mentioned _____.
For some time around 2014 I sent my siblings, DTSR, and a few others my Swifties in an email I called “Daily Swift.” I composed them as I lay awake at night. If they were good enough that I remembered them in the morning, I would send them out to my inner circle. This lasted about a year or so. About that time, Dr. Stephen L. Weber, President of San Diego State University, introduced me to Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Seth Mallios. “Jim, Seth Mallios wants to meet you, why? I don’t know!” Steve, like his successors and others, often used me as a foil. If I had a shrink, they might tell me why.
Seth and I became friends which, to this day, is high on my list of life’s joys. We discovered some significant common interests—first around SDSU history and then about playing sports and ultimately about things that were fun, and then things that were funny. Eventually, in 2016 I revealed my interest in Tom Swifties even though my daily compositions had long since dried up. Seth immediately rekindled the fire. His enthusiasm was infectious and we began composing and trading and challenging each other on a daily basis. I had compiled my inventory from the Daily Swift, and Seth, invoking his organizational prowess, compiled our ever-growing inventory in an excel spreadsheet. In the spring of 2017, he announces we have over 200.
We mutually lament that they are not illustrated—like the gold standard, the JUMBLE. I contacted my old college roommate, Rob. Rob once did a standing backflip on the sidewalk in Ithaca New York after drinking 8 beers. He was extraordinarily talented, including cartooning. I once encouraged him to pursue it professionally, upon which he thrust the daily paper at me and asked me to count the number of syndicated cartoons. “33" I answered. “That's how many jobs are available in that field,” he said.
Seth and I talked about hiring a cartoonist. For a long time, nothing developed. Until September 8, 2017. Seth drew a cartoon. The Swifty was awful but the cartoon wasn’t.