Friday, December 9, 2011

Firewater Friday - Maggie's Drawers

Maggie’s Drawers . . . a strange expression, to be sure.  I came across it while reading a book that made reference to Lee Harvey Oswald's shooting skills.  According to the testimony given to the Warren Commission by a fellow Marine: "I remember seeing his [shooting]. It was a pretty big joke, because he got a lot of "Maggie's drawers," you know, a lot of misses, but he didn't give a darn . . ."

Among old time military types, it means to miss something completely.  On a military rifle range when a shooter misses their target the spotter in the pit waves a red flag indicating a miss. 

The targets are generally a fair distance away from the shooters, so the flag has to be big enough so that it can be seen by the people on the firing line. The large flag is reputed to be as big as "Maggie's Drawers” (underwear).

. . . "it was quite funny to look at, because he would get a couple of disks. Maybe out of a possible ten he'll get two or three Maggie's drawers. Now, these [the Maggie's drawers] are a red flag that's on a long pole, and this is running from left to right on the target itself. And, you don't see this on a firing line too often--not a Marine firing line. . . And we thought it was funny that Oswald was getting these Maggie's drawers so rapidly, one after the other. And this is why I can't think that he could be a good shot, because a good shot doesn't pull this. He'll pull a three, but he won't pull a Maggie's drawer-- that's a complete miss."

The expression is a reference to an old . . . albeit obscene . . .  folksong.  There are different versions of the ditty but I will spare you and share a milder . . .  but still nasty . . .  rendition. 

Those Old Red Flannel Drawers That Maggie Wore

They were wrinkled at the top,
For a nickel they would drop,
Those old red flannel drawers that Maggie wore.

They were baggy at the knees,
And the crotch was full of cheese,
Those old red flannel drawers that Maggie wore.

There were maggots in the cheese,
You could hear the bastards wheeze,
Those old red flannel drawers that Maggie wore.

May you never shoot Maggie's Drawers.


  1. Oswald's documented marksmanship ability was nothing special. Decent, but not spectacular. "Marksman" (the rating achieved by Oswald during his Marine service) is the lowest of the three qualification ratings used in both the US Army and US Marine Corps. Sharpshooter and Expert are the two ratings above Marksman. Any Marine rifleman is proficient, but this hardly proves the Warren Commission's official version of the "Lone Gunman" and "Magic Bullet" explanations of the JFK assassination. I would wave "Maggies Drawers" at the Warren Commission report!

  2. I went through basic at PI in late 1970. SteveL is exactly correct about the Marksman-Sharpshooter-Expert quals. Rifle qual is based on 250 total shots at what are called "dog targets" from 100, 200 and 500 yards.
    "Marksman" is a score of 185-200 out of 250, Sharpshooter is 200-215, and Expert is anything above 215.
    Personally, my boot camp qual was "Marksman", that's 185-200 with the 7.62 M-14. My remaining quals were all Sharpshooter with M-14 and M-16 (.223), as 1971 was the last year the Marines qualled with the M-14.
    The reason I mention this is, although I do know the embarrassment of "Maggie's Drawers", I was a fair-to-midling shot, enough to get around in close combat; but sniper, no way.
    I could have never made that shot from the Texas Book Depository, 220 feet downrange and 60 feet above a moving target, through a cluster of oak leaves that allegedly covered part of that window, with a 6.5mm Manlichter Carcano that has a reputation as junk.
    No Marine Corps rifle Sharpshooter could.
    Marines are, or were, required to qualify with the rifle annually. What were Oswald's qual scores after boot camp? If his shooting never improved beyond Marksman after basic, then it would have been impossible for him to fore the shot that killed JFK.
    Besides, the impact on the Zabruder film shows the energy of the kill-shot as being fired from the front.
    The government was never good at its own coverups.