Ironfoot Jack, the Sydney years

After yesterday’s look at arch-Bohemian Ironfoot Jack, butterscotchclouds – illustrious archivist, assiduous commenter to these pages and imminent recipient of the Congressional Medal of Finding Really Great Things – found this review of Benney’s book (sorry ‘clouds, your comment ended up in trash – so rude! – and I can’t reattach it to the post). It reveals, thrillingly, that Jack hailed from my hometown of Sydney, and that his want of personal hygiene was so extreme that “vagrants would edge away from him”. Another review further reveals that Jack came from the inner city suburb of Woolloomooloo, though misspelt (in fact it was so notoriously difficult to spell that someone came up with a musical mnemonic which I learnt as a child: “double-u double o double l o, o m double o l o, o”).

The campaign to get a street in Woolloomooloo named after Ironfoot Jack starts here.



  1. I thought you’d be excited by the Sydney connection, hooray! Now how does one join the campaign?

    The Woolloomooloo mnemonic is like the one we learn in the States for the state of Mississippi: “m i double-s i double-s i double-p i.’ It’s apparently been perplexing people since the turn of the century.

  2. This is marvy! The ad hominem review was a hoot. Ironfoot reminds me of an unseen character in “Night and the city”. . The medieval contraption to extend his leg is terrifying. A torture device re-purposed from the Spanish Inquisition.
    I was trying to imagine an American Cousin that would meet the international grand guignol standards of this Gothic Soho firebrand and I think I have a worthy candidate in Mississippi poet/novelist/Greenwich village roustabout Maxwell Bodenheim. I do not think you have featured Max, yet. He is dying to be rediscovered.

  3. Wonderful, he’s even got ‘Boheme’ in his name. What an intense existence. And now, just because I feel confident spelling Mississippi, I’m going to.

  4. …and Mississippi Maxwell’s parents were German. What a tidy circle.

  5. Jay Low.

    It makes sense, =not always easy for an Australian to survive in Europe, you need a gimmick or two.

    I say we rename the street sign ourselves, Jack would have done it so.

    • Good idea! How about this one? It’s in two legs and one is longer than the other – perfect for Jack – and I imagine any resident of Bland Street would welcome a change in name.

      • Jay Low.

        I’m heading back that way soon, and it will give me something to do while stalking the city streets at night.

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  8. Budd Fox

    There is now a book out about him called “The Surrender of Silence”

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