Who the hell is Joe Blow from Kokomo, anyway?
[From the Pointless Internet Search Files, Case #25615]
When we were kids, if the kitchen door happened to swing open on its own, Mom always said it was "Joe Blow from Kokomo."
[When we left our closet door open, on the other hand, Dad chastised us for "letting a draft in," which I misheard as "letting a giraffe in," and the fear of some eighteen-foot ungulate extricating itself from my closet while I slept was nightmare-inducing.]
I recently caught myself tempted to pass the "Joe Blow from Kokomo" reference along to my boys when I wondered, for once, just who was Joe Blow anyway and how had Mom heard of him? I suppose I could just ask Mom, but with the worldwide web ever at my fingertips, I thought I'd do some quick and pointless research.
After many frustrating misses I discovered, thanks to a William Safire article, that terms for the average person have evolved over time, often as John (notably "John Doe," "John Hancock," and "John Q. Public"), but also as Joe:
The average Joe appeared as Joe Blow (1867), Joe Doakes (1926), Joe College (1932), GI Joe (1943) and, in Britain, Joe Bloggs (1969). Though Joe Zilch (1925, probably a play on zero) and Joe Schmo (1950, rhyming with hometown Kokomo) are derisive, Joe Cool (1949) gets respect.Joe Everyman continues to evolve, now making more frequent appearances as "Joe Six-Pack."
But in our house, in the interest of preserving meaningless and inscrutable mystery, I now attribute self-opening doors to Joe Blow from Kokomo, a memetic nod to my mother, and a taunting bit of trivia for my grandchildren should the name successfully propagate to yet another generation.