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On the beach

Posted by R. Berg on August 05, 2007

In Reply to: On the beach posted by Kahrobaie on August 05, 2007

: Could "to be on the beach" mean jobless or being in land instead of sea in the following phrase? It's a phrase in "1919" by John Dos Passos (Joe is a deserter - he has deserted US navy becasue he doesn't want to fight in Europe) He's in B.A. and just found a job in a freight ship:

: "Go get your dunnage (luggage) and be back here in an hour," said M. "Haven't got any dunnage. I've been on the beach." replied Joe.

Eric Partridge, "A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English," has two entries that might apply.

[1] "beach, be" or "go on the." To be or become a beach-comber: coll.: late C. 19-20.

[2] "beach, on the." Ashore, whether on leave or having retired from the sea: nautical: mid-C. 19-20....

The second one fits the context pretty well. ~rb