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Trivia...A bunch of it
Old 03-01-2017, 01:49 PM   #1
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Trivia...A bunch of it

What follows are several trivia catches that I have run across or that have run across me. I will not vouch for the accuracy of any of it.

Did you know the saying "God willing and the Creek don't rise" was in reference to the Creek Indians and not a body of water? It was written by Benjamin Hawkins in the late 18th century. He was a politician and Indian diplomat. While in the south, Hawkins was requested by the President of the U.S. to return to Washington. In his response, he was said to write, "God willing and the Creek don't rise." Because he capitalized the word "Creek" it is deduced that he was referring to the Creek Indian tribe and not a body of water.

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In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are 'limbs,' therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, 'Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg.' (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint)

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As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October) Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term 'big wig... ' Today we often use the term 'here comes the Big Wig' because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.

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In the late 1700's, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The 'head of the household' always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal.. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the 'chair man.' Today in business, we use the expression or title 'Chairman' or 'Chairman of the Board.'

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Personal hygiene left much room for improvement.. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, 'mind your own bee's wax.' Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term 'crack a smile'. In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt . .. . Therefore, the expression 'losing face.'

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Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in 'straight laced' wore a tightly tied lace..

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Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the 'Ace of Spades...' To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't 'playing with a full deck..'

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Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to 'go sip some Ale and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. 'You go sip here' and 'You go sip there.' The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term 'gossip.'

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At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts,' hence the phrase 'minding your 'P's and Q's'.

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In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem....how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make 'Brass Monkeys.' Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations w
ould shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey; Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)
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Old 03-01-2017, 02:00 PM   #2
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I loved it, the first ones rang true but it did seem suspicious towards the back half of the list. thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-01-2017, 02:08 PM   #3
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Fun but I suspect many/most/all are apocryphal. For example, as etymology of "gossip" Wikipedia reports, "The word is from Old English godsibb, from god and sibb, the term for the godparents of one's child or the parents of one's godchild, generally very close friends."
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Old 03-01-2017, 03:22 PM   #4
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Hate to break it to you, but mostly not true:

Etymology of 'Little History Lesson'
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Old 03-01-2017, 03:39 PM   #5
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So much of this may be bogus, but there are good examples out there.

When I moved to North Carolina, people from Asheville would tell me they owned the word "bunk" (as in "claptrap") because it was named after the name of their county, Buncombe.

Yeah, right. Sure.

Then I look it up, and sure enough, it is! Of course, this was due to disparaging political talk. Imagine that!

Bunkum | Define Bunkum at Dictionary.com
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Old 03-01-2017, 06:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeyd View Post
In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons.
And they certainly wanted those cannons tied down against recol. If not, .........
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Old 03-01-2017, 06:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)


Local San Antonio TV meteorologist Jud Ashmore was famous for telling his viewing audience to "bring in your brass monkeys" on the few winter nights when he forecast the temp to drop below freezing...
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Old 03-02-2017, 06:50 AM   #8
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Like others I was enjoying this until I got to a few dumb sounding assertions. Looked em up and they were apocryphal or clearly BS. Too bad, now made up etiologies are rolling around in my head on some of these topics. I would rather see factual stuff of this ilk.
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