Some of the best Tom Swifties I’ve ever seen were posted recently on Facebook. For those who may have forgotten, Tom Swift is the hero of a series of boy’s books, the first of which, Tom Swift and His Motor Cycle, was published in 1910. They were written by the pseudonymous “Victor Appleton,” actually publisher Edward Stratemeyer and several of his employees. The same group also published books about the Bobbsey Twins, the Rover Boys, the Hardy Boys, Uncle Wiggily, Don Sturdy, and Nancy Drew—all by Stratemeyer and his team using various noms de plume.
The style of the Tom Swift books was noted for usinig adverbial modifiers for many of Tom’s statements, as: “….Tom said cheerfully” or “…Tom said eagerly.” This practice gave rise in the 1920s to a type of pun called a “Tom Swifty.”
Here are some of the examples I just came across:
“I can’t believe I ate that whole pineapple,” Tom said dolefully.
“I dropped the toothpaste,” Tom said, crestfallen.
“That’s the last time I pet a lion,” Tom said offhandedly.
“I’ll dig another ditch around the castle,” Tom said remotely.
“We need a home-run hitter,” Tom said ruthlessly.
“I shouldn’t sleep on the railroad tracks,” Tom said, beside himself.
And a variant: “You call this a musical?” asked Les miserably.
Some other gems, which, incidentally, can be found in my book Puns, Puzzles & Wordplay (originally Words Gone Wild), still available at a greatly reduced price at amazon.com, are:
“Elvis is dead,” Tom said expressly.
“Your honor, you’re crazy,” Tom said judgmentally.
“I work in the prison cocktail bar,” Tom contended.
The Bard of Buffalo Bayou, in honor of this occasion, has resurrected one of his verses, which needed only a little resuscitation before showing signs of life:
There once was a guy named Tom Swift,
Whose 9-to-5 shift got short shrift.
By noon he would lift
Several pints—get my drift?
To show he was swift getting squiffed.