Douglas Koller wrote: a very amusing post. PC as I am, I hesitated to bring 
up the slavery connection...but we must bear in mind that in the earliest 
days, there were slaves and/or indentured servants in the North, too.
>To this Yankee ear, Mr. [First Name], used in earnest, sounds like a relic 
>of slavery days: "Yaz'm, Mister (Massah) Douglas." Up north (and I 
>presumptuously assume, nationally), it is still used in kiddie speak to 
>anthropomorphise things: to wit, just heard on an episode of "Dharma & 
>Greg" something to the effect of  "If we're going to drink Mr. Grape Juice, 
>let's take off Mr. Silk Tie."

I've been doing that for some years; must have picked it up from a friend, 
as I never watched the kiddie shows, and haven't seen too many sitcoms of 
recent vintage. (Though when I was a travelling publisher's rep, and didn't 
feel like going out that day I'd catch the occasional episode of Romper Room 
(or local equivalent) on morning TV; so cringe-inducing that it _did_ prompt 
me to get to work.........)
>Miss [First Name] has a slightly different trajectory. "Yaz'm, Miss Audra." 
>hearkens back to slave days, surely. But there's also "Missy" which could 
>be used by a slave to the younger miss ("Yaz'm, Missy") or by someone in 
>authority to put a younger miss in her place ("Don't you talk to me that 
>way, Missy!")

In my youth I heard Missy used in that way, by lots of people definitely of 
non-southern extraction (unless you count southern Norway and Sweden).

>(I view all of this as (stereotypical?) Southern usage).

I tend to agree; but how, then, did it come to the North? perhaps via 
migrating Black working class ~servants?  Plus, abetted by the schoolmarm 
appelation, which was simply a title of respect. Perhaps reinforced by the 
novel/movie of "Gone With the Wind"? but that's just mid-late 1930s, and I'd 
imagine it was prevalent before that.

>But "Miss Thing/Thang", jocular at best, hardly respectful at worst, I 
>suspect, started there, before being adopted by the gay community.

Ah yes. And of brief popularity in the 60s: "Thrilling Thing" from Jean 
Genet (what's that in French??); and "Flaming Creature(s)" an oft-suppressed 
"underground" film of the era. (The police raided the auditorium when they 
tried to show it at U.Mich. I'd seen it in NYC and was amused, not shocked.)